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Surprising facts about Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia, an unfinished masterpiece by the modernist architecture genius, Antonio Gaudí, is one of the most symbolic temples in Barcelona and visited by millions of people. For almost 120 years, it has stood majestically in the centre of the city and is awaiting completion by 2026. This date coincides with the anniversary of Gaudí's own death. Its construction and the characteristics of the building are full of surprises and anecdotes.

Gaudí was not responsible for laying the foundation stone of the project on March 19th, 1882, but the architect, Francesc de Paula Villar, was. However, before completing the monument, there were disputes with the city council and as a result, he abandoned the entire project. Then, at the age of 31, Gaudí took charge of the project and ended up getting so deeply involved that he spent the last 15 years of his life living inside this church. 

Following its unique design, Sagrada Familia temple consists of curved columns in its entire structure, which imitate nature in different shapes and forms. Everything is calculated with mathematical perfection and arithmetic. The same columns emulate the form of gigantic trees that rise from the ground to the ceiling, with growth trajectories traced by mathematical calculations.

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Photo © Engel & Völkers Barcelona

Another unique fact about this monument is its conception as a Temple of Atonement in which its expenses are covered exclusively by private donations and its entry ticket sales to visitors.

These factors made Gaudí realise that he would not live to finish the project. Only the nativity's exterior has been preserved as Gaudí's own work. For this reason, he worked on sketches, drawings, blueprints, and illustrations for his successors, before his accidental death, on June 10th, 1926. He was hit by a tram.

However, at the beginning of the Civil War, Sagrada Familia was burned down, including the architect's old workshop and all his materials. The works have had to continue without the guidance of those original plans. This is why the temple cannot be completed exactly as he pictured it.

When the construction is finished, it will have 18 towers in different heights. The 12 lower ones will represent the apostles, while, at a higher height, another four will be erected in honour of the evangelists. One of these towers, which will stand higher than the previous ones, will represent Virgin Mary. The highest tower will be reserved for the glorification of Jesus Christ and will be more than 172 metres in height.

One of the most mysterious aspects of Sagrada Familia is based on Gaudí's alleged link with Freemasonry. In fact, there are several symbols in the temple that suggest this, such as the imposing four metre square on the Passion facade, numbers that always add up to "33" or the pelican stone structure inside the temple, which experts identify as the 18th degree of the Freemasons order.
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