The basilica reopened on July 4, 2020, following a more than 100-day closure due to the coronavirus crisis.
The unfinished church, which was forced to close to tourists from March 13, 2020, offered free entry to medical workers and their families in the first phase of its reopening.
The basilica is expected to be completed in 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death.
Gaudí, a devout and ascetic figure, began working on the project in 1883. In 1914, he stopped all other works to focus exclusively on the basilica, to which he dedicated himself until his unexpected death.
He was struck by a tram in 1926, at the age of 73, while walking to Barcelona’s St. Philip Neri church for confession. Passers-by did not recognize the famed architect because of his worn-out clothes and lack of identity papers.
He died three days after the accident and was buried in the crypt of his unfinished basilica. His cause for canonization was opened in Rome in 2003.
In June 2019, the basilica finally received an official building permit, 137 years after its construction began.
Progress on the construction was initially slow as the works depended on private donations. Building work was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, during which combatants set fire to the crypt and destroyed some of the architect’s designs and plaster models.
Gaudí created numerous celebrated works in Barcelona using his distinctive style inspired by natural forms and eschewing the sharp angles associated with modernist architecture. He summed up his approach by saying, “The straight line belongs to men, the curved one to God.”
When questioned about how long it would take to build the basilica, he reputedly said, “My client is not in a hurry” -- referring to God.