The second-highest tower of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia was officially inaugurated on Wednesday with the illumination of the gigantic 5.5-ton star crowning its highest point.
The inauguration marks a crucial stage in the long completion of what has been dubbed the “world’s oldest building site”
At a height of 138 metres, the new tower of the Virgin Mary is the first to be completed since 1976.
The complex was designed by visionary Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi.
The glass and steel structure – known as Bethlehem’s Star – has 12 points and will change the city’s skyline both day and night.
Gaudi designed the basilica as a “Bible made of stone”, with lots of cryptical symbolism reflected in its structures, sculptures, and embellishments.
Construction of the world’s oldest building site was set to be finished by 2026, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced its consortium to change plans, a new completion date is yet to be set.
Nevertheless, the basilica has entered its final phase and will soon begin raising five immense towers that will make it Europe’s tallest religious building, surpassing Germany’s Ulm Minster. St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome will still have the tallest interior.
The “Tower of Jesus Christ” will be crowned by a cross and tightly surrounded by four other towers dedicated to the four evangelists.
A mere 15 years ago, there was no roof on the inner part of the church, as it stood between two facades with eight bell towers, one side looking like a sandcastle, the other a work of art inspired by cubist painting.
Gaudi won the patronage of some of Barcelona’s wealthiest industrialist and upper-crust families, who commissioned him to build homes and other daring buildings and parks that have helped make Barcelona a leading tourist destination.
A fervent Catholic, Gaudi largely dedicated his life to the project, incorporating both Christian symbolism and organic forms into a unique aesthetic.
Gaudi, who died in 1926 after being struck by a tram, never expected the cathedral to be completed in his lifetime, just one facade was finished when he died.