World's Biggest Church
A build taking over 140 years finally nears completion, as the engineers and architects of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia attempt to raise the six central towers that will make it the world’s tallest church. Already dominating the city’s skyline, soaring over 100 metres tall and attracting 4.5 million visitors each year, the stone towers will push the church’s height above 170 metres.
Sagrada Familia’s original maverick architect, Antoni Gaudî, died almost 100 years ago and many of his plans and models were lost, so the team must follow design clues helping them to realise Gaudí’s vision. Chief Architect today is Jordi Fauli, who faces a major problem, Gaudí used the distinctive multi-coloured local stone to build the church, however there is none left. So he must replicate the look by sourcing stone from quarries around the world, including a quarry in Lancashire, where we meet the team blasting the rock.
To build the towers, Head of Construction, Jaume Torreguitart, will build 856 prefabricated stone panels and hoist each one to the top of Sagrada Familia, then slot them into place. We follow the first level being installed that will prove this unique construction method works, but they hit trouble as the bolts do not align. High winds also threaten to shut down Jaume’s operation. The towers must be earthquake proof, so we discover the ingenious secret steel skeleton, built into the panels, that braces the structure. We meet the highly skilled craftsmen hand-finishing the stone reliefs that will adorn the towers and learn how they bring the stone to life. The church’s stunning stained glass windows have been known to bring visitors to tears, they are designed by a father and son team who reveal their secrets.