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Sagrada Familia star
Photograph: Pep Daude / Sagrada Familia

In pictures: the big shiny new star on top of Barcelona’s Sagrada Família

The five-and-a-half tonne sculpture is the biggest change to the famous basilica in decades

Ed Cunningham
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Ed Cunningham
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Barcelona’s Sagrada Família was already one of the world’s most magnificent buildings. But now it’s become even more special. In the biggest single change to the building’s exterior in decades, an enormous 12-point star has been plonked on the top of one of its tallest towers.

Feels rather festive, right? You’re thinking along the right lines: it’s supposed to symbolise the Star of Bethlehem – in other words, the one that shone above Jesus’s birthplace on Christmas Day. 

When we say that the star is enormous, we really mean it. Made out of steel and glass, it’s more than seven metres wide and weighs five and a half tonnes. Sitting atop the Virgin Mary tower (a spire that features 800 windows), the star will be officially unveiled tomorrow (December 8).

The Sagrada Família was designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and has famously been under construction for a very, very long time. Work began in 1882 and the project was set to be completed in 2026, 100 years after Gaudí’s death. However, after construction paused during the pandemic, the finish date is now less certain.

One of the most iconic examples of Catalan modernism, the Sagrada has always looked like nothing else. The finished work will feature 18 tall, thin spires, each covered with intricate and complex carvings. It was named a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2019, and once it’s completed, it’ll be the tallest church in the world.

To mark the official unveiling of the star tomorrow, the Virgin Mary tower will be entirely lit up in blue. You’ll be able to follow proceedings on the Sagrada Família’s Facebook page. In the meantime, here are a few shots of the latest addition to Barcelona’s skyline in all its pointy glory:

Sagrada Familia star
Photograph: Pep Daude / Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia star
Photograph: Pep Daude / Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia star
Photograph: Pep Daude / Sagrada Familia

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