Barcelona's Sagrada Familia finally has a building permit – 137 years after work started

The church, designed by Antoni Gaudi, is one of Barcelona's top tourist attractions

FILE - In this file photo taken Jan. 13, 2010 shows Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada Familia church, an unfinished Barcelona landmark in Barcelona, Spain. An official building permit has been issued for the unfinished Barcelona church designed by architect Antoni Gaudí 137 years after construction started on La Sagrada Familia Basilica. Barcelona City Hall says it granted the current builders a permit valid through 2026. The basilica's first stone was laid in 1882, but the city says there is was no record a construction license ever was granted. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)
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La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona has just received a building permit, more than 137 years after the first stone was laid at the famous church.

On Friday, Barcelona finally granted a licence allowing building work to continue at the site until 2026. It is not clear why the building has not had a building permit up until now.

La Sagrada Familia is perhaps the most design by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, and is one of Barcelona’s top tourist attractions.

Gaudi's Sagrada Familia and Barcelona's skyline are seen against the backdrop of a snow-covered mount after a snowstorm March 9, 2010.  REUTERS/ Albert Gea (SPAIN - Tags: ENVIRONMENT CITYSCAPE) *** Local Caption ***  BAR103_SPAIN-_0309_11.JPG

Despite almost 140 years of construction, the building is yet to be finished, however, it is hope the new permit will allow for its completion in 2026, which will coincide with the centenary of Gaudi’s death.

Last year, the Unesco heritage site agreed to pay $41 million (Dh150 million) to city authorities as a penalty for the licence oversight.

Barcelona’s deputy mayor of urbanism, Janet Sanz, said the new agreement put an end to a “historic anomaly” in the city.

A further $5.2 million (Dh19 million) will be paid to the city in fees as part of an agreement with the church’s foundation, which is responsible for the completion and preservation of La Sagrada Familia.

The church attracts around 4.5 million visitors each year, with a further 20 million visiting the site surrounding La Sagrada Familia.

The final stages of its construction are being carried out based on copies of Gaudi’s original drawings and plaster models.