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Some Barcelona residents have come to look on their city's architectural wonders with new eyes in recent weeks. The Covid-19 crisis and the ordeal of lockdown in the densely built-up Catalan capital have been difficult times in many ways, but one of the compensations lately has been the chance to rediscover places, passejos and Modernista marvels in relative tranquility, during walks or daily exercise.

Well, now the Sagrada Família is inviting locals to take that new-found relationship a step further. Starting in mid-July, Barcelona residents will be able to visit Antoni Gaudí's unique temple for free every Saturday afternoon.    

The initiative will start with two weekends in which the Sagrada Família will pay tribute to those who have toiled daily against Covid-19 from the front line - medical personnel, emergency service workers, retail workers and others - who will have exclusive entry to the cathedral on 4th/5th and 11th/12th July, while from Saturday 18th, a new season of Gaudí afternoons will begin for city residents who wish to visit the temple.

This was announced today, Monday, in an internet press conference by the general director of the Sagrada Famíla construction board, Xavier Martínez, and its director of operations, Marc Martínez.

The world-famous cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudí will gradually open to visitors in three phases: the "Tribute" phase on those first two weekends, the "Barcelona Time" after that, and the third stage when tourists will be able to enjoy the temple again.

On the first two weekends of July, those eligible to reserve a visit will be health personnel, police, firefighters, ONG and social workers and "business and retail workers", for whom 12,000 free tickets will be set aside.

Then, from July 18th, any resident of Barcelona (those who are empadronat) will be able to visit the temple on Saturday afternoons by downloading an electronic ticket, until the total available places - 125,000 over the five months until December 31st - are booked. Reservations open on Tuesday 16th June.

The date for the third phase, in which tourists will once again be able to visit the emblematic cathedral, has not yet been set, since it is subject to the lifting of travel restrictions, although the intention of the board is that it is as soon as possible.