The Sagrada Familia is one of the most famous buildings in Barcelona, Spain... even though it's still not actually finished! The building has been under construction for over a century, and now, the site is having to pay a fine to the government for working without a building permit since the late 1800s. Building began on the Sagrada Familia in 1882, with architect Francisco de Paula del Villar at the helm. However, it is Antoni Gaudi who is most commonly associated with the project, as he took over in 1883, and devoted his life to completing it.
However, Gaudi died in 1926, with much of the work left undone. Since then, the Sagrada Familia has been a huge tourist draw, as people come from all over the world to see the work that Gaudi did on the church. Building has also continued since Gaudi's death, slowly, and funded by donations. The Sagrada Familia is projected to be completed in 2026 - and has now taken a financial hit, after being fined for building without a permit.
The Sagrada Familia will pay $41 million to the city of Barcelona, in a deal that the mayor is calling 'historic'. The money will be paid out to the city over the next decade, with promises to funnel it back into the neighborhood around the Sagrada Familia itself, focusing on public transport as well as access to the monument. The building on the site will then be considered legally permitted once more (as of early next year).
This deal is sure to please the city, as well as local residents and tourists who will get better access to the monument itself - something that is overdue, with 4.5 million people visiting the structure each year, and 20 million visiting the neighborhood around it, but not entering the basilica itself.
This marks the end of a long fight between the monument and the city of Barcelona, who have been battling over the building permit issue for some time. The Sagrada contests that they do, in fact, have a building permit: issued in 1885 by Sant Martí de Provençals (the original town where it stands). Barcelona argues in return that when Sant Marti de Provencals became a part of the city of Barcelona a few years later, a new permit was required. The Sagrada also claims that no one from the city has asked for a new permit to be filed in the intervening years - potentially simple administrative oversight. Who would think that the most famous building site in the city could operate without a permit to build?