Sagrada Familia invites medical workers to attend July 4 reopening

shutterstock 603926081 A rainbow over Sagrada Família in Barcelona, February 10, 2016. | TTstudio/Shutterstock

The Sagrada Família, designed by Antoni Gaudí, will reopen its doors July 4 following a more than 100-day closure due to the coronavirus crisis.

The unfinished basilica, which was forced to close to tourists March 13, will offer free entry to medical workers and their families Saturday in the first phase of its reopening.

Cardinal Juan José Omella, the archbishop of Barcelona and president of the Spanish bishops' conference, will meet the presidents of the colleges of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and physiotherapists on the same day, reported the website Religión Digital.

Entry in the first phase will also be extended to others engaged in the fight against the pandemic, including security guards, workers for social organizations and NGOs, and the staff of businesses and retail groups.

This tribute to Barcelona's front-line workers will last for two weekends, July 4-5 and July 11-12.

In the second phase, called "Hora Barcelona" ("Barcelona Hour"), city residents will enjoy free entry to the basilica, in small groups and without the presence of tourists.

When the first batch of 37,000 tickets for the second phase was made available June 16, all the tickets were reserved within five hours. The second phase will cover the months of July and August.

In the third phase Sagrada Familia will admit both local and international tourists.

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.

Last month, 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.

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