Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família
2010 World Monuments Watch
Seemingly defying gravity, the towers of the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família stretch to the heavens above the Barcelona landscape, and are now synonymous with the city’s identity. Begun in 1882, this massive, continuing project is the crucible of architect Antoni Gaudí, who took over the commission from diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar in 1883. Gaudí continued to execute designs and oversee construction until his death in 1926. As a lasting symbol of his connection to the project, he is entombed in Sagrada Familia’s crypt. Three grand façades comprise the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família: the Nativity to the east, the Passion to the West, and the Glory to the South. The still-to-be-completed Glory façade is the concern of a heated controversy regarding the Sants-Sagrera stretch of the Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona-French border high-speed train line. The underground train tunnel will pass along this façade, with a protective screen of pylons planned just six feet (two meters) from the Glory foundations. Given the proximity of the pylons, the tremendous weight of this portion of the church, the future structural settlement of the completed façade, and the vibrations caused by the train and its construction, there are concerns about whether Sagrada Família will be adequately protected from potential damage. Advocates have called for more rigorous analysis of the planned infrastructure development and its impact, and for a possible rerouting of the train line farther from this unique and beloved building.