The coronavirus has ended the dream of those responsible for the Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudí’s expiatory temple, of being able to finish the work in 2026, coinciding with the centenary of the architect’s death. The lack of visitors, especially foreigners who represent 94% of the total, and the forecast that the situation will reverse in the coming months, has blown up the date long announced in recent years. “If there is not a miracle, the works will not be able to be finished in 2026 as we had foreseen,” Esteve Camps, delegate president of the Construction Board, announced forcefully yesterday, during the annual meeting with the media prior to the open days for the Barcelona’s Mercè festivities.
Despite the fact that the works, interrupted on March 13, the same day that the Sagrada Familia closed its doors to visitors, they will return “from fifteen days, maximum three weeks”, Camps and the chief architect of the works, Jordi Faulí, did not want to advance a new date for its completion. “In 2021, with the remaining money we had, apart from being able to complete the salary of the workers who are in ERTE, it will be possible to finish the Maria tower, the second tallest in the building, at 138 meters high.
The work has already been completed and now the crowning of about 25 meters and the auction will begin; a seven-meter-high star made up of twelve points of steel and glass that will light up at night; but nothing else ”, they explained inside the nave of the temple, strangely empty and silent. The works will begin in La Galera, the enclosure located in the municipality of Gaia (Bages), with the size of 11 football fields, in which the parts are pre-assembled and then moved and placed in their place. “The stone and metal are already bought,” Camps pointed out.
“If the measures against covid-19 allow it during all this time, we have the right margin to finish the Torre de María in the last months of the year 2021”, confirmed Camps, while Faulí explained that the cross is the symbol that identifies to María and showed images from Gaudí’s studio showing models of polygonal stars hanging from the ceiling, like the one that will be used to finish this tower.
Camps explained that in July 2019 they received a daily average of 15,600 tourists; while this year, in the whole month, they were only 2,000. “If you extrapolate it to the current situation, you will see that this means that we can only open Saturdays and Sundays, as long as there is a minimum number of tickets sold, because the security and health expenses of the visitors double the entrance.” He also revealed that they had foreseen that if the 3,000 visits were exceeded a day, one more day a week would be opened. “But neither in July, nor in August, nor in September, in no case have we exceeded 2,000 and therefore it is impossible to do so.”
Also, that before the end of the year a part of the interior of Provença street with Sardenya will collapse and the City Council will give up two and a half meters of sidewalk, “a pact that had already been made.” It will be to build the Assumpta chapel, a building that will be erected in the cloister of the Nativity façade and that needs to occupy 2.6 meters of the Provença sidewalk along 21 meters in length. In return, the temple recedes into the Marina and Sardenya chamfers.
Last year 4.5 million people visited the temple. The forecasts for this year were to obtain income of 103 million euros, 55 of which were for works and the rest “was intended for a possible decrease in visitors.” Yesterday Camps assured that, after its readjustment, the budget for this 2020 will be only 17 million euros.
“I want to remember that this building is made with donations from people. Worse moments have passed; work was even stopped during the Civil War, but always, to a greater or lesser extent, Gaudí’s project continued to become a reality. And now it will not be an exception. We maintain our commitment and enthusiasm. The temple will be finished, ”continued Camps, who announced that in November they will promote a campaign for citizens to make donations.