Fire at iconic Barcelona cathedral

28 April 2011 12:36

The scene after a fire broke out inside the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona (AP)

The scene after a fire broke out inside the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona (AP)

Hundreds of tourists have been evacuated after a fire was started inside Barcelona's famous Sagrada Familia basilica.

Police said the suspected arson attack caused significant damage to the sacristy at one of Spain's most popular tourist attractions.

Around 1,500 people were evacuated from the site, with four requiring treatment for smoke inhalation.

While Barcelona is known as a safe destination for tourists, the incident highlights the importance of purchasing travel insurance to provide peace of mind in case of unexpected events.

Tourists saw smoke coming from inside the sacristy, raised the alarm and the suspected arsonist was arrested.

The sacristy is where priests put on their vestments in preparation for Mass. The arsonist set fire to vestments that were stored there.

Police said he had a lighter and pieces of fabric that could be used to start a fire, and the fire itself caused significant damage, including a chair that was burned.

The Sagrada Familia is the unfinished masterpiece of architect Antoni Gaudi and is one of the top draws in Spain, receiving more than two million visitors a year.

The towering basilica was a church until it was consecrated by the Pope during a visit to Barcelona in November.

Gaudi was a Catholic who largely dedicated his life to the project. Construction of the church began in 1882, and Gaudi died in 1926.

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