Antoni Gaudi's iconic church in Barcelona reopens to the public

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By Daniel Bellamy
Antoni Gaudi's iconic church in Barcelona reopens to the public
Copyright  Emilio Morenatti/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

The iconic Sagrada Familia basilica reopened in Barcelona on Saturday after a protracted period of closure due to COVID-19.

The second most-visited church in Spain is still operating with limited visiting hours. Despite this, more than 1,000 tickets are being sold online every hour.

It's not just tourists snapping up tickets to the famous attraction, designed by Antoni Gaudi in the late 1800s. Locals are keen to visit as well.

"We immediately bought the tickets and came in a hurry," one woman from Barcelona said, "because the children were very excited to come, and here we are enjoying ourselves."

There were hopes that long-running construction works on Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece would complete this year but the pandemic brought it to a halt.

Reopening the Sagrada Familia will be vital to this effort now, as tourist revenues pay for construction work at the UN World Heritage Site.

Gaudi died in 1926 with just a quarter of his church built. It is hoped that it will be finally finished in time for the centenary of his death in 2026. At a planned 172 metres tall, it will also be the tallest church in the world when work is complete.