Work starts on immense towers at Barcelona's Gaudi church

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Work starts on immense towers at Barcelona's Gaudi church
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: Employees work on the Birth's Facade of 'La Sagrada Familia' on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: A general view of the Basilica of 'La Sagrada Familia' on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21, 2015 that the temple entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will be crowed with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: 'La Sagrada Familia' stands over residential buildings on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Visitors of the Sagrada Familia Basilica, designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. Barcelona's breathtaking La Sagrada Familia Basilica has begun its final phase of raising six immense tower. Presenting the project Thursday, chief architect Jordi Fauli said the central "Tower of Jesus Christ," the tallest of the six, will rise 172.5 meters (566 feet) high, making it "the tallest religious building in Europe." (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: Labourers work on 'La Sagrada Familia' on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: A general view of the Passion's facade of 'La Sagrada Familia' on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain.'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: Tourists look at a mockup of 'La Sagrada Familia' as they visit the temple on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: A statue of the Passion's facade of 'La Sagrada Familia' is seen on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: A general view of the Passion's facade of 'La Sagrada Familia' on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain.'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: People enjoy the view over the city with 'La Sagrada Familia' in the background on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: A detail of the top of two of the towers of 'La Sagrada Familia' is seen on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: Towers and cranes stand over the Birth's Facade of 'La Sagrada Familia' on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: The name of 'Jesus' is read on the door of the Passion's facade of 'La Sagrada Familia' is seen on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: A general view of the Basilica of 'La Sagrada Familia' on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: A general view of the Basilica of 'La Sagrada Familia' on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 21: Tourists visit the basilica of the Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain on October 21, 2015. Each year more than 3 million people visit the unfinished work of Catalan architect. (Photo by Albert Llop /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: A general view of the Basilica of 'La Sagrada Familia' on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: A tourist looks at the Birth's Facade of 'La Sagrada Familia' as she visits the temple on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: Employees work on the Birth's Facade of 'La Sagrada Familia' on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: Tourists visit the Basilica of 'La Sagrada Familia' on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 21: An inside view of the basilica of the Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain on October 21, 2015. Each year more than 3 million people visit the unfinished work of Catalan architect. (Photo by Albert Llop /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26: A general view of the Basilica of 'La Sagrada Familia' on October 26, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation announced on October 21 that the temple has entered final construction phase. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882 following the Neo-gothic design drawn up by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the first architect of the 'Sagrada Familia'. Antoni Gaudi took over the design of the Sagrada Familia in 1883 until his death on June 10, 1926 due to a traffic accident. The main projects being undertaken over the coming years are the construction of the west sacristy, the central towers and the Tower of Jesus which will eventually be crowned with a cross 170 metres above the ground level. According to 'La Sagrada Familia' Foundation, the temple could be finished in the first third of the 21st century. More than 3 million people visit the temple each year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona's breathtaking La Sagrada Familia Basilica, designed by visionary architect Antoni Gaudi, has begun its final phase of raising six immense towers that will make it Europe's tallest religious building, surpassing Germany's Ulm Minster.

Presenting the project Thursday, chief architect Jordi Fauli said the central "Tower of Jesus Christ," the tallest of the six towers, will make the architectural marvel that draws millions of visitors each year one for the record books when it is finished in a little over a decade.

The Sagrada Familia, an emblematic fixture of the Barcelona skyline and major tourist site, had its first stone laid in 1882. It is 70 percent complete.

Fauli said the plan to have the towers and most of the church's structure completed in 2026 for the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death is still on schedule. He said there will still be some elements left to finish, such as decorations.

"It's difficult to predict but we can say that it will be completed by 2030, 2032," he said.

"The central tower of 172.5 meters (566 feet) will make it the tallest cathedral in Europe, because the tallest tower in Europe is Ulm, at 162 meters (531.5 feet)," Fauli said.

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 five other towers, one dedicated to Mary and four slightly shorter ones for the four apostles.

Fauli unveiled the next phase of the construction in a newly finished chamber that formed a small amphitheater perched 60 meters (196 feet) above the floor of the church from where hundreds of visitors gazed at the church's stained glass windows and arching ceilings.

The tower will rise directly above the chamber, which is designed to support the weight of the towers and channel sunlight into the building.

A mere 15 years ago, there was no roof on the inner part of the church as it stood between the two beautiful facades with eight bell towers that leave spectators overcome with awe, one side looking like a sand castle and 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 gorgeous 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 trolley, never expected the cathedral to be completed in his lifetime. Only one facade was finished when he died.

Fauli took over as the chief architect in 2012. He inherited the charge of carrying on the task of making Gaudi's drawings, some of which were only rough sketches, into the massive monument that is now reaching its conclusion.

The monument received more than 3.2 million visits in 2014, making it one of the biggest tourist sites in Spain.

The entrance fees of 15-20 euros ($17-22) finance the construction budget of 25 million euros ($28.38 million) a year.

Gaudi Basilica Construction in Final Stage
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