1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Gaudi's Sagrada Familia to become world's tallest church

October 22, 2015

Germany's Ulm Cathedral is getting competition from the long-unfinished Sagrada Familia in Barcelona's for the world's tallest church. The prized pinnacle on Gaudi's masterpiece won't be finished for another 11 years.

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

It will only have taken 144 years to complete. But the massive construction site at the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona hasn't kept tourists from coming in droves; it's the Catalonian city's most popular destination.

In Wednesday's presentation of the project - which began in 1882 - chief architect Jordi Fauli said that the church's six planned central towers were in the works. The tallest of them, the so-called Tower of Jesus Christ, is set to measure 172.5 meters (566 feet).

It would surpass the current title holder for the world's tallest church spire: The 162-meter-tall Ulm Cathedral in southern Germany. St. Peter's Basilica in Rome will still have the tallest interior.

Fauli, 56, also said that the impressive towers were on track to be completed by 2026, which also marks the 100th anniversary of founding architect Antoni Gaudi's death.

And when will one of the world's most famous unfinished projects finally be complete? "It's difficult to predict, but we can say that it will be completed by 2030, 2032," said Fauli. The church is currently 70 percent finished.

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Copyright: picture alliance / Sergio Pitamitz/Robert Harding
The scaffolding will be a round for a while longer - but tourists don't seem to mindImage: picture alliance / Sergio Pitamitz/Robert Harding

Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926), who had made a name for himself designing lavish homes for some of Barcelona's wealthiest families, started working on Sagrada Familia in 1853. Gaudi was killed in a trolley accident in 1926. Since then, work on the church has been overseen by a series of other chief architects - Jordi Fauli is the ninth - and work was disrupted for a time during the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

According to Fauli, 25 million euros ($28 million) are spent annually on the construction project, which is funded exclusively by donations and ticket sales. Last year alone, some 3.2 million people visited the UNESCO World Heritage site.

kbm/eg (AP, dpa)