A Massive Star Was Just Added to Barcelona's Sagrada Família — and You Can Watch the Illumination Ceremony Online
Barcelona's iconic La Sagrada Família basilica is one step closer to being finished, with the newest addition to one of its towers: a 12-point star that will soon illuminate the skies.
Known as the star of Bethlehem, the massive glass and steel structure now sits atop the Virgin Mary tower of the famously unfinished basilica. Measuring 24.6 feet and weighing 5.5 tons, the star cost €1.5 million, according to Lonely Planet.
The addition was made on Nov. 29, ahead of a special mass that will take place at La Sagrada Família on Dec. 8, a day honoring the Virgin Mary as part of a Catholic holiday called the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
The Virgin Mary tower consists of 800 windows, with each one designed to light up in blue, resembling the cloak of the Virgin Mary, when they're illuminated during the formal unveiling of the star. The ceremony will officially make this tower the first one completed since 1976.
"A great luminous star has changed Barcelona's skyline and rises up to bring light and hope," read a statement from the foundation that runs La Sagrada Família.
The foundation is also livestreaming the festivities, so anyone from around the world can partake in the celebration. The base of the tower was first illuminated on Dec. 4, with the lighting going higher and higher on each consecutive day until Dec. 8. That day, the Archbishop of Barcelona will host a special mass at the basilica, culminating with the lighting of the star of Bethlehem. The completion of the tower will be "a historic moment after a year of darkness and tireless struggle," the Archbishop said.
Construction on La Sagrada Família began in 1882 but halted when Antoni Gaudi, the chief architect and mastermind behind the building's unique look, was killed by a tram in 1926. Progress has been made on and off for the last 95 years. In 2019, the basilica became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and completion was scheduled for 2026 in honor of the centennial of Gaudi's death. With construction delays due to COVID restrictions, it's unclear if that deadline will be met.
In the meantime, those curious about La Sagrada Família and its new star can livestream the illumination events here.
Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but always on the lookout for the next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.