It's a Spanish Property of Cultural Interest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it has even been consecrated and named a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI. However the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona's most-visited landmark, hasn't even been completed yet. Started in 1882 and taken over the following year by the famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, this iconic structure has been under construction for almost 129 years. In fact, it only reached it's halfway point sometime around 2010.
Sagrada Familia nears completion... finally. — Photo courtesy of munksynz
Even though the progress is slow and steady, apparently the current architects of Sagrada Familia have decided on a date of completion: somewhere between 2026 and 2028, which would coincide with the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the project.
So what has taken the Sagrada Familia so long to construct? When Gaudi was asked why construction was scheduled to take so long, he famously replied "my client is not in a hurry." Still, after his death several events including the Spanish Civil War halted work on the basilica. Gaudi's original plans were also destroyed by Catalan anarchists, so many of the modern plans are based on interpretations of Gaudi's vision.
Calling the Sagrada Familia a "unique" design is something of an understatement. Several art critics say it is arguably the most extraordinary example of church architecture that is found nowhere else on the planet. Yet, Barcelonins are divided on its construction, saying it will compete with Barcelona's famous Cathedral of Santa Eulalia or that because Gaudi's original plans were lost, no one can truly create Sagrada Familia in the way he envisioned. There is also the little issue of the city's plans for a high-speed train that could put the entire cathedral at risk.
Still, with the amount of tourist dollars that Sagrada Familia generates, it's hard to imagine halting construction at this point, especially when they are so close to the finish. Well, halfway close at least.