Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia Finally Gets Planning Permission – 137 Years Later

Authorities hope the Barcelona church will be completed ahead of the 2026 centenary of the architect’s death

The exterior of La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, 2017. Courtesy and photograph: Fred Romero

The exterior of La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, 2017. Courtesy and photograph: Fred Romero

A famous basilica and popular tourist destination in Barcelona has been granted a building permit, 137 years after construction first began. La Sagrada Familia, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, was issued with a permit on Friday 7 June which will allow architects and builders to continue working on the basilica until 2026.

Authorities hope that the seven-year licence will allow enough time for the Roman Catholic church to be completed in time for the centenary of Gaudí’s death, which will be celebrated in 2026. Much work still has to be done to complete the church’s central towers, which, when completed, will make La Sagrada Familía the tallest religious structure in Europe at 172.5 metres. Construction will be based on Gaudi’s plaster models, photographs and published prints of his drawings.

It is unclear whether a building permit, which was first applied for in 1885, had been approved or rejected by city officials, despite building work starting three years earlier, in 1883.

The deadlock was broken after the city reached an agreement with the foundation responsible for the preservation and eventual completion of the Sagrada Familia, who have committed to pay EUR€4.6 million (GBP£4.10 million) in fees, the highest price for a building permit in Barcelona’s history.

Each year, the church receives 4.5 million visitors who pay EUR€17–€38 in entrance fees. An additional estimated 20 million tourists view the exterior of the church each year.

In a statement, Janet Sanz, Barcelona’s deputy mayor for Ecology, Urbanism and Mobility, said: ‘It was a historical anomaly that La Sagrada Familia did not have a licence.’

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