It’s one of the most famous buildings in Europe: partly because it isn’t finished yet more than 100 years since it was started.
Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona is just a few years away from completion, however, as the towers of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John have been fully erected. When the ultimate tower is finished—slated for 2026—the building will be finished, 144 years after it was started.
The original designer, Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, wanted the facade to contain 16 spindly towers which would each be dedicated to a biblical figure: 12 for the apostles, 4 for the evangelists, one for Mary, and one for Jesus.
It was last Wednesday that the final sculptural element was placed on the tower of Matthew, and the day after that, John’s tower was crowned with an eagle.
The basilica celebrated the triumph on Facebook.
For local Christians, they will get to enjoy this building on November 12th for the basilica’s inaugural mass, when the four towers of the evangelists will be illuminated. They will remain so until after Christmas.
On Sunday, the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra gave the debut musical performance at the Sagrada Família. Led by head conductor José Rafael Pascual-Vilaplana, the concerto featured a repertoire chosen for the occasion that paid tribute to the symbiosis of nature, faith, and art represented in the Sagrada Família’s art and sculpture.
The towers have been the final pieces of this massive, complicated, and oft-interrupted puzzle which first hit snags upon Gaudi’s death in 1926 when only 10% of the building had been finished.
Interrupted by the wars of the 20th century, much of the subsequent work had to be done off imagination because Gaudi’s original models had been destroyed. The Sagrada Familia was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, more than 20 years after it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Now only the tower of Jesus remains unfinished, and when the scaffolding is finally pulled down it will be the tallest cathedral in Europe at 566-foot tall (172.5 meter) plus a 56-foot tall (17-meter) cross.
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