On one of the heraldic constellations is a bull, on the other a lion. The lights will be turned on for the first time tonight in the two newest towers of the Sagrada Familia. After that, it seems like a matter of three years: in 2026, architect Gaudí’s masterpiece in Barcelona should have been fully completed.
It took nearly 144 years of continuous work at the Extraordinary Church. The light in the 135-meter-high towers illuminated today represents the evangelists Luke and Mark. They are depicted there as animals. A bull for Luke and a lion for Marcus. Animals represent humility and courage.
Two more towers will be completed next year, dedicated to the other evangelists Matthew (angel) and John (eagle). During this last phase, the construction of the highest tower in the heart of the cathedral will also begin. The Sagrada Familia will then be higher, because the central crossing tower of Jesus Christ will soon end at 172 metres.
On the tower there will be a cross with four giant arms that will shine its light in all directions. “Now we are mainly working on the preparations for the Tower of Jesus Christ and the Crucifixion. Hopefully, in 2026, on the anniversary of Gaudí’s death, everything will really be ready,” sighs current architect Jordi Foley. With his pointed beard, right-parted hair, and black jacket, he actually resembles his illustrious predecessor.
Everything is tightly arranged when the lights are switched on in the twin towers for the first time tonight. Shortly afterwards, the Christmas party begins among the colonnaded forest in the impressive nave of the building.
However, not everyone is happy with the expanding church. Local residents are concerned about plans to demolish homes in nearby neighbourhoods. A wide platform should be placed on the site in the direction of the basilica.
Private property must go.
“The church council has largely demanded that the Barcelona municipality demolish the houses in the neighborhood,” says lawyer Salvador Borroso, head of one of the local residents’ groups. “But you speak of the private property of the citizens. That property must go so that the Church can finally complete her great memorial.”
“Then they want to receive the liberated land as a gift,” says Boroso. “The architects who finished Gaudi’s cathedral consider themselves his heirs. They see themselves as huge and important. But the church is not above the law.” There are now two outstanding cases between the local residents and the church council.
3.4 million visitors
But that administration may be shrugging its shoulders. The Sagrada Familia attracted 3.4 million visitors this year. Tourists provide the church with €87 million, which is used to finance construction. Next year, more than 100 million euros are expected to arrive, just as it was before the Corona pandemic.
Borroso doubts whether Gaudí ever laid out the plans for the platform. Architects completing their work nowadays have to do without original models and building drawings. This article was lost in a fire in 1936, at the start of the Spanish Civil War.