Unfinished buildings come with their own stories, their own histories — and they tell a greater tale of the life and times surrounding them. Most of these structures remain unfinished because of politics or money, and we’re all familiar with how both can hold things up. Here are five buildings that are, shockingly, still under construction
Sagrada Familia — Barcelona, Spain
Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Spain, also known as Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia. It’s been under construction since 1882 when a bookkeeper took his ideas for the church to architect Francisco de Paula del Villar, who immediately began building it. In 1884, architect Antoni Gaudi took over the project and made some changes to the original design. The church was only about a quarter of the way completed when Gaudi died in 1926. Today, Sagrada Familia remains under construction because of legal red tape and funding problems. For years, the church has relied on donations to fund construction and still needs help finishing it. Trustees also saw a two-year battle with the city council who refused to grant them a permit because of tax and legal status of church properties. The council finally granted the permit on March 6, 2019, and construction is expected to be finished in 2026.
Woodchester Mansion — Gloucester, England
Woodchester Mansion, a Victorian-style mansion in the Cotswold countryside, is considered “an unfinished masterpiece.” Construction began around 1857, but was abandoned mid-project. It’s been that way since the 1870s. From the outside, the mansion looks gorgeous and finished; but the interior is missing floors, plaster and even rooms. The estate relies on the David Thomas Charitable Trust for donations to keep construction going. Fun fact: A colony of bats has lived here since the 1950s and there are people in Gloucester that insist the building is haunted.
Unity Tower — Krakow, Poland
Unity Tower, also known as Szkieletor (Skeletor) for its skeletal structure and Poland’s love of Masters of the Universe in the 1980s, began construction as a high-rise office building in 1975. Construction was halted in 1981 when Martial Law was declared in Poland and the country became politically and financially unstable. It was eventually restarted and scheduled to be finished in 2017, but Szkieletor is still officially unfinished.
New Zealand Parliament Buildings — Wellington, New Zealand
This neoclassical style cluster of buildings has been through it all. The first buildings were wooden, and we're sure you know how that turned out — they burned to the ground in 1907 after what’s been referred to as “The Great Fire.” Wellington held a contest for the new building design and chose a winner in 1911 with construction beginning in 1914. But the breakout of World War I put it on hold. The first stage was completed before the WWI pause, but the second phase never started and never would. Parliament had to eventually move to a different building because the Buildings were already deteriorating and “leaking like a sieve” by the 1950s. In 1977, “The Beehive” opened; but it, too, remains unfinished.
Siena Cathedral — Siena, Italy
A building of some type has been on this site for close to a millennia and the Siena Cathedral (or The Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta) has been standing there since about 1263.Less than 100 years later, as Siena was growing in both population and power, they wanted to expand the church to about twice its size. That dream would never come to pass as the the plague came to Siena in 1348 and wiped out a majority of its population. Siena never seemed to recover. The façade on the eastern side is still unfinished.