Arson blamed for fire at iconic Barcelona church
April 19th, 2011
05:54 PM ET

Arson blamed for fire at iconic Barcelona church

(CNN) - About 1,500 tourists were evacuated Tuesday from the Sagrada Familia church, a popular destination for visitors to Barcelona, Spain, after a man set a fire inside, authorities said.

The fire occurred in the church's crypt, a section always open and used for religious purposes. It caused no injuries and unknown damage to the crypt, authorities said.

Investigators arrested the man, a municipal spokeswoman said.

The church is closed to the public and will open when it is deemed safe to visit, the spokeswoman said.

The Sagrada Familia, or "holy family" church, is still under construction after more than 100 years. It was designed by Antoni Gaudi, an architect well-known for many buildings he designed in Barcelona. Only one tower and most of one facade at the church had been completed by the time he died ni 1926.

Gaudi planned the church to have 18 towers - 12 for the apostles, four for the evangelists, one for the Virgin Mary and the tallest for Jesus.

Read the full story about the arson at the Sagrada Familia church.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Europe • Spain

soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Archeron

    An architectural abomination is what it is.
    It looks like a giant mutant hemorrhoid pushing up from the surrounding sphincter of a city.
    Disgusting. It should be burned, smashed, and obliterated from the Earth.

    April 21, 2011 at 3:50 am |
  2. Reality

    Another building of "worthless worship" but apparently it does keep many stone masons employed.

    April 20, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  3. Nitrogen

    Essence of Religion: "If you can't bewilder them with brilliance, befuddle them with bulls**t"

    April 20, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Artist


      April 20, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  4. ColinO

    Having been there, it's an amazing piece of architecture, whether you believe in what it represents or not. It's sad that someone would try to tarnish that. Check out Gaudi's other building in Barcelona, as well as Parque Guell, amazing stuff.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Colin

      Agreed, my similarly named friend. I wish the spanish would finish the thing, though.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  5. Ed

    Sorry that was to Artist

    April 20, 2011 at 9:45 am |
    • Artist

      Ed, dont worry about Arthur. I understand what you are trying to say. Grammer is not one of my strong points. I do chuckle when the grammer nazis strike. If they are hung up on it that is their issue. I am guessing they are lacking in other areas and this forum gives them some satisfaction to make up for their shortco mings in other areas. I have several friends who are writers and they can be quite dry at times. Alomost like nerds with pencils.

      April 20, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Ed

      He just annoyed me I wa probably a little thinned skinned

      April 20, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Artist


      He just annoyed me I wa probably a little thinned skinned


      To beat Arthur to the punch, was is spelled w a s not wa. *wink* God I cannot imagine being that an al retentive.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • Arthur Worthington

      Actually, I really did not care much about the grammar and spelling. I just wanted to rub Ed the wrong way because of some of the things he was saying. Perhaps unfair, as some of his other posts have been pretty decent. I shouldn't mistake people like Ed for people like HeavenSent.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:34 am |
  6. Ed

    Hey Artust the skitzo's have arrived and this time their athiest. ref-Mephitic Critic and corresponding replys

    April 20, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • Arthur Worthington

      Ed, there would be no apostrophe is "skitzos" (it's actually "schizos"), your "their" is actually "they're," and "atheist" has the e before the i. A period at the end of a sentence is nice, too, and a verb would help tremendously on that second sentence as well. Illiteracy undermines your credibility.

      As schizophrenia is marked by the disassociation from reality, it far better fits religious nutters, who defend a theology totally without proof with the most wild and extreme pronouncements. Adelina and HeavenSent behave in a manner closest to the diagnosis of schizophrenia.

      April 20, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Ed

      @Arthur, I apologize my typing was not up to you high standards. The comment was a direct response to a smart remark made by Artist the day. I agree Adelina and HeavenSent had behave poorly own the blogs, and I don't agree with their comments or methods. However Mephitic Critic and the 2 people that replied to his post are behaving just as badly. Prehaps Skitzo is the wrong word but I was using it with the same intent as Artist so it fit the conversation in this case. This is not a english paer its a conversation had I sadi that in a conversation it would have been understood exactly as intended wrong word or not. Further more unless you are a licensed psychiatrist who has properly diagnosed a patient refer to some one as a schizophrenic may be a bit assumptive of you.

      April 20, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Arthur Worthington

      Ed, reread your last sentence and remember that YOU referred to people here as schizophrenic. Rather hypocritical, yes? I myself only said that HeavenSent and Adelina behave in a manner closest to the diagnosis of schizophrenia, which is not a diagnosis.

      Let me say it again: illiteracy undermines your credibility. Your latest post gives a reader the impression that you have no more than a high school education, maybe not even that much. Is that the impression you really want to make?

      April 20, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Ed


      "Adelina and HeavenSent behave in a manner closest to the diagnosis of schizophrenia."

      In this sentence you have not directly said these 2 are schizophrenic, none the the less you very clearly imply they are. Further you automaticlly link "religious nutters" as you call us to schizophrenia so again it is assumptive of.

      As for my comment it was as I said a direct response to Artist using the same word in reference to people behaving poorly in the blog. I have already agreed I used it incorrectly but feel it still fits the conversational tone it which it was used.

      I have had several god conversations with athiest on thesesblogs including Artist discussing out deferring views with out feeling the need to insult each other or attack one anothers literacy. You seem to feel you are smarter than every one who is religious and have decided I must me a illiterate due to my faith. This is your choice, think as you wish, but no matter how well written turning to insults instead of conversation is the sign of the small minded. The 3 athiest I refered to stated they thought burning churches was a good plan. Whether or not you agree with the religion destroying their buildings is not a reasonable response. If you want to have a conversation about the story or your point of view on religion thats fine. Since it seems all you want to do is throw insults please leave me be.

      April 20, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  7. Excellent Event

    Beautiful job by this heroic man!


    April 20, 2011 at 3:35 am |
  8. Mephitic Critic

    How sad that it did not burn to the ground. They should recycle the wood and stone used in the construction of that useless building. Put it to good use for once. Or burn it. Get something out of it. Historical importance is BS in the case of religious buildings. Burn em all. I'll bring marshmallows.

    April 20, 2011 at 2:41 am |
    • Destroy those criminal organizations!

      Isn't that just the ugliest, stupidest-looking building you've ever seen in your life?
      And it's totally worthless and useless. Good grief what a waste of money!
      That's a crime of money laundering at the very least.
      Obliterate it and build something worthwhile!

      April 20, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • Buenaventura Durruti

      We burned it once in the 1930s, but the Catholic Church in its divine holiness sided with the dictator Franco, so the Catholics got their power back and had us killed.

      April 20, 2011 at 2:50 am |
  9. Chipe

    Who is this "Arson" and why hasn't anyone arrested this guy? WTF??

    April 20, 2011 at 2:08 am |
    • Mork from Ork

      Mork calling Arson! Come in Arson!

      April 20, 2011 at 2:30 am |
  10. Adelina

    Does Spain listen to Pope? They should mourn over the loss of faith, not for church buildings getting hurt.

    April 19, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  11. Adelina

    Rise of militant atheists... But present Western Europe doesn't deserve having church buildings anyway...

    April 19, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • K

      There are party members looking for you. They just want to talk. Contact them immediately. – K

      April 20, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • Dexter Skagway

      There is no way Adelina is going to understand a literary reference like that.

      April 20, 2011 at 3:14 am |
    • Adelina

      I can't vote in America... I belong to a church, not a party.

      April 20, 2011 at 3:24 am |
    • Arthur Worthington

      Stop lying, Adelina. You don't vote in America because you are not American and don't live in America.

      April 20, 2011 at 3:29 am |
    • Adelina

      @Arthur: ??? Yes, that's what I mean. I can't vote in America. I miss talking to a Sri Lankan and South African and Australian. It's kind of boring to talk only to Americans all the time.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Arthur Worthington

      I'm sure there are South African and Australian boards for you to go abuse. We won't miss you when you go.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:37 am |
  12. bp

    I wonder what the suspects motives were? I be dissapointed if it was found out he was a fellow Atheist. This would be no better than Christian fantacis bombing abortion centers. At least have respect for the church in a historical sense, it has contributed to our history a lot. Definetly time to move past mystism but if we toss our history under a rug we would be idiots.

    April 19, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      Generally, things like this are done by mentally unstable religious people, just like whenever a famous artwork is damaged at a museum, the perpetrator is very often a frustrated artist gone a bit wrong in the head. Atheists in the modern age really don't go for this kind of violence – they for the most part just ignore religion and go do something better. Though it is a bit of fun to come annoy the zealots here.

      April 19, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      BP I agree, I think most churches and cathedrals are beautiful places, and the fact that most of them are very old ( at least in the UK) only adds to the sense of awe as to how they were built. Any destruction of any of them would be a travesty. While i am an atheist ,I absolutely respect the fact that these places exist and have added to our history and culture. I recently listened to a piece of music called Veni Redemptor Gentium sung by lisbeth Scott.. and yes it is a beautiful piece of music.. listen to it on Youtube..it is very haunting and has been inspired by religion.. good music in a good Cathedral..I can see why some people are drawn to believe.

      April 19, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • bp

      I'll check it out Evolved

      April 20, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  13. Artist

    So how long before skitzo posts on here?

    April 19, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  14. Ed

    one day I need to learn to type

    April 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  15. Ed

    didn't take seriously sorry

    April 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  16. Artist

    That is one thing and probably the only thing I like about the catholic church. They have wonderful art and buildings. And I was kidding about burning the churches down.

    April 19, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Ed

      did take it seriously

      April 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  17. Ed

    looks like amazing architecture glad it didn't destroy the building. Also don't agree the church is tyrannical but then I'm biased

    April 19, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It is an amazing structure. Gaudi was an incredible artist.

      April 19, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • Buenaventura Durruti

      Of course it didn't burn down. Look at it – it's made out of stone.

      April 19, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  18. Artist

    LOL @ Amalia..good catch.
    Actually now is not the time to burn the churches down to the ground. Man is not ready to ween itself of myths.

    April 19, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • bp

      Agreeded somewhat. But would there ever really ned to be a time to burn them down? They are part of our history whether or not we like it, at best would could someday turn them into museums etc. I like to think of them as the restored castles in Europe ect, an important part of history to remeber but thankfully no longer live in. (Yes I know people still live in this fantasy world).

      April 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  19. Buenaventura Durruti

    Catalonian anarchism is back! Free the people from the tyranny of the church!

    April 19, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  20. Amalia Sheran Sharm

    Oh no, now it's construction will be delayed.

    April 19, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.