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    Sagrada Familia: End of the Century

    The end of the century at Sagrada Familia has been a busy time. Due to the quantity of tourists visiting and workers working on its construction, they had to take down the majority of the interior scaffolding in the nave on December 31st.

    Early in the morning on this past December 27th a loud crash woke up the residents living in the neighborhood of Sagrada Familia. The noise was caused by a 200 kg. block of cement that fell from an altitude of some 45 meters above the sculpture factory on Mallorca Street. Fortunately, this incident occured at one o'clock in the morning, at which time there was no one in the factory, thus the consequences were only a few damages to the covering.

    The press took advantage of this incident to revive the debate over the continuation of the construction and point out any problems they could find in the construction. Since the Joint Constructor of Sagrada Familia Directive, they have attributed the falling rock to "a rare gust of wind" (AVUI 12-28-00). Ramon Espel, technical architect of the church, assured that all possible safety measures would be taken in order to avoid any future accidents, although he emphasized that the construction site is safe as it is.

    After two days, all of the fuss was calmed with the conclusion of the Facade of the Nativity, which was culminated with the placement of nine sculptures -- the singing angels -- by Japanese sculptor, Etsuro Sotoo, who has been working on Sagrada Familia now for 23 years. Gaudí began this facade in 1892 but only saw the left tower -- dedicated to Saint Barnaby -- complete, just before his death in 1926.

    The finishing of this facade and withdrawl of the scaffolding from the interior of the central nave vaults were two objectives that the Joint Construction of Sagrada Familia Directive had proposed to be realized before the end of the milenium.

    The removal of these scaffolding has made visible the 45-meter-high brick and Muranese glass vaults. In all, they cleared away 1700 square meters, and took advantage of the evening of December 31st to celebrate the New Year, with a mass, the first one carried out under the nave roof. The mass was led by cardinal Ricard Mª Carles, 5 auxilary bishops, and 166 priests.

    Attending the mass were some 5000 people, among which were public authorities such as the president of the Generality of Catalonia, Jordi Pujol, the arquitect of Sagrada Familia, Jordi Bonet i Armengol, and the Director of the Center for Gaudinist Studies, Luis Gueilburt.

    For the occasion, the recently-unvelied vaults were lit up so that those attending were able to enjoy the interior view of Sagrada Familia that, until that day, was only possible through imagining what it might look like using the small-scale models left behind by Gaudí.

    If the construction continues at its current pace, we will be able to enjoy 4500 square meters of the fully completed nave by the year 2007.

    Carlos Martínez

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