Barcelona's world-famous La Sagrada Familia basilica has finally been given a building permit 136 years after construction on the site began. The church has agreed to repay $41 million in fees that date back to 1882, which is when ground was first broken on the building. City authorities have given the church a 10-year timeframe to pay the fees. Barcelona's mayor has hailed the deal as a historic agreement. She said the funds would be allotted to municipal projects that will improve the metro system, roads, public services and local neighbourhoods. A resident tweeted: "To improve the environment of this majestic building is to improve the quality of life for citizens and visitors as well as the image of Barcelona."
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La Sagrada Familia was designed by renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, a modernist artist who also designed many eye-catching, unique and eccentric buildings and parks in Barcelona. The basilica is slated for completion in 2026, exactly 100 years after Gaudi's death. Construction has continued on La Sagrada Familia for over a century without any inspections from local authorities. It was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the church and proclaimed it a minor basilica, which is distinct from a cathedral in it not being the seat of a bishop. It is now one of Barcelona's top tourist attractions, attracting an estimated 20 million visitors a year.