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Gaudi’s Sagrada Família secures building permit—137 years later

A deal between the city and the church foundation aims to complete construction work on the architect’s quixotic final project

Exterior de La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Photo: Canaan

The Basilica of the Sagrada Família has finally been granted a building permit a full 137 years after construction of Antonio Gaudí’s quixotic unfinished structure began, according to the church’s official architecture blog.

The church’s cornerstone was laid in 1882. But an application for a building permit filed three years later was apparently never approved, city officials said on Friday upon issuing the new document, which is valid until 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death. The architect was struck by a streetcar during his morning walk to confession and was interred in the basilica’s crypt.

"It was a historical anomaly that La Sagrada Familia did not have a license," Janet Sanz, Barcelona's deputy mayor for Ecology, Urbanism and Mobility told media at the permit signing. As part of an agreement between the city and the Sagrada Família foundation overseeing the church’s completion, Barcelona will receive €4.5m and the foundation will help cover the expenses generated by the building.

A fantastical blend of Gothic, Art Nouveau, Surrealist and other influences, the basilica is one of Spain’s most visited tourist sites. The goal is now to complete the church’s unfinished Glory façade as well as work on its central towers, the Sagrada Familia blog says.