Sagrada Familia cathedral gets building license 130 years after work began

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BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) - More than 130 years after construction first began, Barcelona’s towering Sagrada Familia cathedral is finally to get a building permit, the city council and the monument’s official blog said.

Cranes and scaffolding still flank the ornate spires of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi’s most famous monument, which draws some 20 million visitors a year. Stained-glass windows had to be installed at the last minute before a papal visit in 2010.

Under an agreement announced on Thursday, the basilica will pay city authorities 36 million euros ($41 million) to help fund Barcelona’s public transport system and to revamp nearby streets, thus ending a dispute over the building’s legality.

Some of the money will also be channeled into providing direct access to the monument and expanding its current entrances, the council said in a statement.

Gaudi’s design features 18 towers dedicated to the 12 apostles, four evangelists, Jesus and the Virgin Mary and famously includes modernist and Art Nouveau as well as more traditional Gothic elements.

Sagrada Familia, which means ‘holy family’ in Spanish, is finally due to be completed in 2026, the centenary of Gaudi’s death. He was hit by a tram in 1926 when only about a quarter of his building had been completed and progress has been slow and sporadic since then, picking up pace in recent years.

Once the license is granted, a works commission including local residents will be set up to finalize the project.

($1 = 0.8720 euros)

Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Gareth Jones