Faith

Barcelona's Most Famous Church Went Without a Building Permit for 130 Years

Photo by Bernard Gagnon, released into public domain.

This week, authorities at the Sagrada Familía basilica, the most famous church in Barcelona, Spain, stuck a deal with the city to pay £31 million ($41 million) to finally secure a permit. In a story that would make any libertarian proud, the basilica went 130 years without officially registering with the government, the BBC reported.

Renowned architect Antoni Gaudí began work on the building in 1882. A Unesco world heritage site, the building is still under construction, and is slated for completion in 2026, the one hundred year anniversary of Gaudí’s death.

About 4.5 million people visit the Sagrada Familía each year, with 20 million more people visiting the area of Barcelona where the church is located, in order to see the famous landmark.

For such a historic building and landmark as the Sagrada Familía to go 130 years without a government building permit should inspire libertarians across the world. Even so, this incredible status proved unsustainable.

Mayor Ada Colau announced that the building will be registered early next year, after the church agreed to pay the money in a 10-year deal. The funds will improve public transport and access to the Sagrada Familía.

Unfortunately for libertarians, it may prove difficult to find the sort of loophole the Sagrada Familía utilized for over a century. After all, most buildings are not designed by a famous Spanish artichect like Antoni Gaudí.

When my wife and I visited the church in 2016, we had no idea it had dodged a building permit for more than 100 years. Now, my wife — even more libertarian than I am — is proud to have patronized a church that thumbed its nose to the government for more than a century.

While the city of Barcelona may lament this astonishing century-long dodge, this story may make the Sagrada Familía an even more attractive tourist destination — especially among libertarians.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.