An official building permit has finally been issued for the unfinished Barcelona church designed by architect Antoni Gaudí 137 years after construction started on La Sagrada Familia Basilica.
Barcelona City Hall said Friday it granted the current builders a work permit that is valid through 2026. The builders say that is enough time to finish raising the landmark Roman Catholic church’s central towers.
Barcelona officials said the city will be paid 4.6 million euros ($5.2 million) in fees under an agreement negotiated with a foundation devoted to completing and preserving La Sagrada Familia.
The basilica’s first stone was laid in 1882, but Barcelona officials said there was no record showing a construction license ever was granted although one was requested in 1885.
However, work on the popular tourist destination never stopped.
Barcelona official Janet Sanz said the agreement puts an end to “a historical anomaly in our city.”
Over 4.5 million visitors pay 17-38 each to tour the church each year. The Barcelona government estimates 20 million tourists simply enjoy the view from outside of the large basilica’s breathtaking bell towers.
When completed, its central tower will make La Sagrada Familia the tallest religious structure in Europe at 172.5 meters (566 feet) tall, according to the builders.
A fervent Catholic, Gaudi largely dedicated his life to the project, which incorporated Christian symbolism and the organic forms that reflected his modernist aesthetic. The architect died in 1926 after being struck by a trolley when just one facade was complete.
Work on the building continues based on his drawings.