The trustees of Barcelona’s historic Sagrada Família have reached an agreement with the city council to pay off $41 million in debt for not having the appropriate building permits. As the New York Times reports, the saga has continued for more than a century, as an original building permit issued in 1885 by Sant Martí de Provençals was no longer valid when the town was absorbed into the city of Barcelona. Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí in 1882, the Sagrada Família is still under construction 136 years later.
Church officials have agreed to pay off the debt over a 10 year period in installments. In exchange, they plan for the permit to help improve public transportation in the surrounding areas. “The Sagrada Família is an icon and the most visited monument in our city,” Ada Colau, mayor of Barcelona, tweeted on Thursday. “After two years of dialogue we have made an agreement that will guarantee the payment of the license, secure access to the monument and facilitate local life with improvements to public transport and redevelopment of the nearby streets.”
One of the best known structures of Catalan Modernisme, the Sagrada Família draws over three million visitors annually. Gaudi worked on the project until his death in 1926, in full anticipation he would not live to see it finished. Once completed, La Sagrada Familia will feature eighteen towers presenting a unique view of the temple from any single vantage point. Even as construction continues, older portions are undergoing cleaning and restoration. The temple has relied entirely on private donations since its inception, and has seen many delays due to lack of funding.
The Sagrada Família is set to be complete in 2026, the centennial of Gaudí’s death.