One of Spain’s most famous landmarks, the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona, has opened its doors to visitors for the first time since the country was placed under lockdown on March 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Roman Catholic church, a masterpiece of world-renowned designer Antoni Gaudi, is still under construction about 138 years after the first stone was laid in 1882, reports Xinhua news agency.
It is the most popular tourist destination in Barcelona.
The reopening of Sagrada Familia will take place in three separate stages, with the aim of recognizing the efforts of the citizens of Barcelona in the fight against COVID-19.
The first phase is named the “Homage Phase”, From Saturday, access to the building is given only to healthcare workers, police officers, security and social workers and those who work for charity organizations, as well as those who ensured the supply of vital goods and services during the worst time of the coronavirus crisis.
The Homage Phase lasts for a week before the second stage, “Barcelona Time” starts.
This stage aims to give other Barcelona residents the opportunity to view the building in the heart of their city for free and without the distraction of tourists.
Finally, both national and international tourists will be able to enter the emblematic building at a still-to-be-confirmed date, depending on the evolution of the pandemic over the coming days and weeks.
Sagrada Familia became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. It attracts about 4.5 million visitors each year.
According to the Spanish Health Ministry on Friday, Catalonia is the second-worst affected region of Spain by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 5,673 people losing their lives to COVID-19 out of a total of 62,057 infections, of which 834 were diagnosed in the last seven days.
As of Sunday morning, Spain has registered a total of 250,545 COVID-19 cases, with 28,385 deaths.