When Xavier Martinez, the director general of the construction council was able to return to the Sagrada Familia a fortnight ago, he took advantage of the temple in solitude: “I went to the naves to breathe and to feel again, after these long closed months, that something was missing. “
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Since the start of the pandemic, this still unfinished basilica, visited each year by 4.5 million tourists, has gone through a singular period, where tranquility and silence reign.
The reopening will be done slowly. The first phase will be “Tribute to express our gratitude to the health professionals who will visit it during the first two weekends of July”, explains Xavier Martinez. The Barcelonians will then have the scoop, from July 18 until the end of the year, every afternoon every Saturday and Sunday for free.
The Catalan capital, usually beset by mass tourism, therefore finds a strange calm, where “Barcelonians have the opportunity to rediscover their city”. The Sagrada Familia initiative, which has been under construction for one hundred and thirty-eight years, has found its audience and its success: all the tickets have already been sold out for July and August. Xavier Martinez is looking forward to it: “Many residents will rediscover this dynamic basilica where the works are changing its physiognomy. “
A site largely financed by ticketing
Only here, the pandemic and these free visits blocked the works, only financed by 60% of the entries of the visitors, in majority tourists. The origin of this funding goes back a long way. “During the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, the world discovered the Sagrada Familia, in particular with this famous image of the Olympic swimming jump, where the towers were distinguished”, likes to remember Xavier Martinez.
At the time, only donations allowed timid progress to advance the site. After these images, tourists began to flock to end up funding almost all of the work. The date of their recovery remains uncertain.
“We don’t have a date yet, everything will depend on when tourism resumes”, assures Xavier Martinez. The general manager is calm and serene: “We will adapt the pace of the works to the number of entrances, we were to finish in 2026, we will see if that will be possible, but our generation will see the Sagrada finished, I am sure of it.” “