THE COVID pandemic has dashed hopes for completing Antoni Gaudi’s unfinished iconic Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona in time for the centenary of his death.

Work at the UNESCO World Heritage Site was due to end in 2026 but tourist revenues, which are paying for the construction, have collapsed.

Building was halted for nine months during the COVID pandemic and income from visitors will take some time to build up again for the completion project to return to 2019 levels.

When Gaudi died in 1926, only a quarter of the structure had been completed.

Before the coronavirus struck, there were genuine hopes that the basilica would be finished to mark 100 years since he died.

Additional spires are set to be erected but all of the work is privately funded, hence the delay fuelled by a lack of tourists.

It’s now unclear when the project will actually be completed.

The Sagrada Familia trustees director-general, Xavier Martinez, said: “I would not be telling the truth if I set a precise date. It could be 2030, 2035, or 2040.”

A 138 metre-high tower dedicated to the Virgin Mary is still scheduled to be finished by the end of the year.

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