By Marion Caspar
After over 135 years of construction work, he Basilica Sagrada Familia is almost finished. According to the communication and press department of the most famous church in Barcelona, it will be finished in 2026. It will not be completed entirely, just architecturally; there will be some sculptures left to build. We will not be able to see the entire Gaudí’s creation before another decade.
The press and communication department of the church reveals: ‘what mostly attracts tourists to the Sagrada Familia is that it is under construction. This statement is the proof that the best for the city and the Sagrada Familia is to keep it under construction forever.
Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in the world with more than ten millions visitors per year and this number seems to increase over the years. Barcelona is a really attractive city thanks to its heritage, its street plan and its perfect balance between tradition and innovation. The City of Prodigies is named on purpose: some of its monuments are UNESCO world heritage sites: The Parc Guell, the Palais Guell, la Casa Mila, la Casa Vicens, the Nativity façade of the Sagrada Familia and the crypt, la Casa Balto and the crypt of the Colonia Guell.
The Basilica Sagrada Familia is the most visited monument with 4.5 million visitors in 2016: a new record. According to its press and communication department, the Basilica is the most visited Gaudí’s masterpiece, even though it’s still under construction. The construction is still in process because of the money; the only income for the Basilica comes from the sale of tickets and private donations.
The municipality and its Mayor Ada Colau take no part in the construction of the future highest church in Spain and today she tries to slow the construction for economic reasons and taxes the church has to pay, or not.
Barcelona experienced in August 2017 a terrorist attack which may influence the influx of tourists next year. Moreover, a few months ago local inhabitants of Barcelona demonstrated against the masses of tourists.
If the amount of tourists goes down because of these factors, the church will not earn enough money and the construction will take even longer. In this case, we can imagine that it will be a problem for tourism. As Manuel Vicent, columnist for El País (Madrid) wrote about the Sagrada Familia:’ The only saving grace of the Temple of the Sagrada Família was the fact that it was unfinished […] when its walls are finally enclosed, there will be no one inside but Japanese tourists’.
Furthermore, the complete construction of the Basilica may not fit the real dream and perception of Gaudí. Almost all of his plans, notes and drawings were lost in a fire during the ‘Guerra Civil’ in 1936. Losing the work of Gaudí means losing the authenticity, the originality and the creativity of the church.
The tourist of 2018 can already see the difference between the Passion facade and Nativity facade: sharp forms, straight lines, no energizing colors, Gaudí‘s touch is missing here. Loved
and admired for his special style and his unique vision to see the world around us, if the church doesn’t look like his work, tourists may be disappointed.
A former mayor of the Catalan economic capital reveals: ’to try to finish this temple nowadays is no longer about following his exact plans. From the point of view of respecting his work, it would have been much better to stop at the point when we were no longer sure that this was exactly what he wanted’. In this end, completing the construction of the Basilica Sagrada Familia won’t help tourism, on the contrary, it will slow it down.
As we don’t know how tourism will evolve with the exterior factors from the church, we have to wait until 2026 to discover the almost entire Sagrada Familia, the creation of Gaudí, and several generations of architects.