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Never has there been a longer or more famous construction project than Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia. For 137 years, the iconic Roman Catholic church has carried out construction on the building having to do so without a building permit. While it’s unclear why they couldn’t secure one after all these years, Barcelona’s city council just awarded the permit to finish the project that started in 1882.
According to a Twitter post by Janet Sanz, the woman in charge of urban planning, Barcelona’s city council approved the license to complete the construction, which is expected to be wrapped up by 2026, at a price of for 4.6 million euros (about $5.2 million) for the permit alone. This comes after the architectural attraction agreed to pay $41 million to city authorities last year as a penalty for the oversight.
Although it’s still unclear as to why it took so long, Sanz told Agence France-Presse that the council was able to “resolve a historical anomaly in the city—that an emblematic monument like the Sagrada Familia... didn’t have a building permit, that it was being constructed illegally.”
The UNESCO World Heritage Site is, of course, famous for Catalan modernist Antoni Gaudí’s design. He was still working on the project when he was killed in 1926, leaving several other architects to finish the work. The final product, if all goes as planned, will be completed exactly 100 years from Gaudí’s death. It will be based on the architect’s plaster models and copies of his original drawings. According to the new building permit seen by AFP, that will include a 564-foot-high basilica and will cost 374 million euros in construction costs.
This new build is sure to attract even more visitors who flock to the site to see the grand design. In fact, about 4.5 million people already visit the Sagrada Familia each year and it’s estimated another 20 million come just to see the intricate facade.