The Sagrada Familia is the most popular tourist attraction in Barcelona and the number of visitors to this unique monument amounts to over 2,000,000 a year. Venerated by the World of Architecture as one of the most imaginative and ambitious contemporary buildings, it has been a work in progress since 1882 and isn't expected to be completed for at least another 25 years. The building is also declared Patrimony of the Humanity by UNESCO.
Recently there are worries that the Expiatori Temple of the Sagrada Familia could be in danger since the Spanish government agreed to a major project that involves constructing an underground tunnel to provide a high-speed train line. The line will link Madrid and Barcelona and allow trains to pass underground just a mere 4m in front of the basilica's main facade on Mallorca Avenue.
The project is expected to last for a period of 28 months in which time the Sagrada Familia's foundations will be subjected to constant vibrations that could have a serious effect on the building and surrounding area. The monument is the last building planned by the architect Antoni Gaud and his masterpiece, and every day more than 7000 tourists visit the site.
However, it isn't only the Expiatori Temple of the Sagrada Familia that is in danger, the project could also put an end to the Mil House, also known as La Pedrera, which took 4 years to construct and is a leading model of Gaudi's civil architecture, visually pleasing in addition to being exceptionally practical.
As well as 2 of the most important works by the Catalan architect, there are other eminent famous buildings that could be irreparably damaged if something isn't done to protect them. Amongst them are a farmhouse of the XIVth century, a refuge of the Spanish Civil War and two archaeological deposits, this is in addition to hundreds of local citizens who have houses nearby.
Going ahead with the project will not only put these buildings and residents in danger, they will also cause considerable risk to the construction workers who work on the Sagrada, and the thousands of people who visit every day.
Initially The Public Works Ministry approved a project to build a high-speed rail tunnel crossing Barcelona, far enough away from the Sagrada Familia to cause no concern. However, plans were changed when in 2005 there was a partial collapse in the district of Carmel resulting in a huge hole due to a weakness in the soil and insufficient planning, and ended in over a thousand people having to be evacuated from their homes.
The new plans involve the train line now crossing under the main facade of the Temple, the Facade of the Glory. To protect the tunnel and buildings above the idea is to position an underground protection screen; this screen would have to bear the weight of the facade of Glria, a colossal weight as the columns alone weigh 22.000 tons.
There are two groups opposing the project, the Sagrada Familia preservation society and the neighbourhood association AVE pel Litoral. The former have undertaken an in-depth study stating their arguments against the project and calling it 'recklessness that borders the irrational'.
The Ministry's analysis hasn't taken into account the effect vibrations will have on the buildings over time, technical information point out that the vibrations from excavation and passing trains could damage the mosaics, glass windows and roofs, and even cause breaks and landslides, whilst destroying the structure of the temple.
A number of alternative routes have been presented to the Spanish government whereby the risks, and impact on the surrounding areas, are not as great, safer options that put neither homes nor monuments in danger.
The work of Antoni Gaud symbolizes an outstanding creative contribution to the development of architecture and building technology in the 19th and 20th centuries. If you have never been to Barcelona before then now might be a good time before the government goes ahead with its plan. Rent an apartment in the city as a convenient and economical option, suitable for all types of travelers, whether you are in the city on business, with your family or a group of friends. Barcelona apartments are economical, fully equipped and stylish. They also offer you more privacy than a hotel and lots of space