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Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia has been under construction for more than 130 years.

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The Sagrada Familia, or the Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family, is a cathedral located in central Barcelona, designed by legendary architect Antoni Gaudi. Construction began on March 19, 1882, and continued until Gaudi was hit by a streetcar and killed in 1926. At that time, only 15 percent of the building was completed. It's still not finished.

Construction has been halted frequently because of lack of funding, with donations providing a lot of the necessary financing. In recent years more money has poured in, and the church has benefited from its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The sheer scope and ambition of the project have also made work proceed slowly, and some original plans and models were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War. Sagrada Familia is a gorgeous cathedral, with delicately shaped spires rising high into the sky. The structure is filled with tremendously detailed carvings, sculptures, friezes and other ornamentation.

­Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2026, and despite ongoing work, Sagrada Familia remains Spain's most popular monument. However, 400 prominent Spanish artists and intellectuals released a statement in December 2008 saying that construction should stop. They argued that the building no longer matches Gaudi's artistic vision and has been compromised in the name of tourism. But defenders of the ongoing construction say that Sagrada Familia is great precisely because it's a collective work, clearly bearing Gaudi's imprimatur but also featuring contributions from workers and artists over many decades.

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