Arts and Culture

The iconic Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, which 12,000 people visit every day, under construction in the Catalan capital. Pictures by Bill Heaney

The iconic Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona has agreed to pay €36m to the city authorities after going without a building permit for more than 130 years.

Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi’s famous building has been under construction for 136 years – but with no official oversight or permit from either the local council or regional government.

The cathedral is also not listed in the property registry and since 1995 has only been marked as an empty plot belonging to the diocese of Barcelona, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais.

The famous cathedral is set to be completed in 2026

In 2015, the construction board and Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau began negotiating to regulate the building and licence payments.

Over the next decade, the basilica’s money will fund improvements to public transport and access to the monument, as well as assisting the local neighbourhood.

By next year, its status should become regularised, the mayor said.

“Today, the Sagrada Familia and [Barcelona city council] signed an agreement to begin the procedures to obtain the works licence of the Antoni Gaudi project,” the basilica’s Twitter account posted.

El Pais reports that the lack of oversight has seen some building anomalies, including where eight columns were found to have been built up to 50cm across the pavement in 2007.

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