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Spain's iconic Sagrada Familia eyes completion, possible evictions

The massive architectural wonder held an Easter Vigil on Saturday ahead of its planned 2026 completion date after 142 years of construction.
Spain's iconic Sagrada Familia eyes completion, possible evictions
Posted at 11:56 AM, Mar 30, 2024

It has always been a marvel of architecture and art, whether you want to classify it as religious or not. 

The basilica was built in 1882, and over the next 142 years it would be perpetually under construction, with pauses during the Spanish Civil War in in the 1930s, and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Saturday, the basilica held an Easter vigil led by Javier Vilanova, who is the auxiliary bishop of Barcelona, the organization behind the basilica said on X, sharing a link to a live stream for the service and photos of the awe-inspiring interior. 

The project has seen war and financial difficulties over the decades. This month, an announcement was made signaling a completion date that was cemented in place for 2026 that would coincide with the 100-year mark after Gaudi's death in 1926. He died in a Spanish hospital of trauma after being hit by a tram. 

After the 2026 official completion date, more work on sculptures, adornments and a staircase is expected, Arch Daily reported. 

The basilica has been widely expected to become the world's tallest church when its sky-scraping spires are finalized, with other European church officials raising their eyebrows in anticipation. 

Around 1,000 homes and businesses could be relocated for the work to proceed, reports said. 

As Euro News reported, residents have sought legal action amid planned evictions. 

Salvador Barroso, a lawyer working with the Association for those Affected by the Sagrada Familia, told the outlet, "This was not the work of Gaudí but it is going to affect the lives of about 3,000 people who live near the basilica. That means people like me who have lived next to the place for over 30 years or more." 

He said, "This is a sword but no one knows where it is going to fall. In cases of expropriation, the only one who can make the decision is the local council. They should do so quickly and not look the other way."

Euro News reported that Barcelona's Mayor Ada Colau has advocated to stop any evictions. 

Arch Daily reported that when the basilica was first constructed, the area was a vast agricultural area that grew into a dense urban center over the decades. 

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The Gothic Revival-Art Nouveau-Modernism blend of work that makes up the structure's many columns and features spanning at least an entire city block, or bloc de la ciutat in Catalan (one of Barcelona's official languages apart from Spanish).

Legendary Spanish designer and architect Antoni Gaudi designed the Roman Catholic minor basilica known for it's organic form. Gaudi took over in 1883 as its chief architect, and he worked on the project for the rest of his career. 

Arch Daily said almost 5 million visitors come to admire the project and provide it with what is considered a stable contribution of money to keep it going. 

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