Santa Maria del Mar is a Gothic church which is located in one of the oldest districts of Barcelona’s La Ribera. It was built between the years 1329-1389; at the peak flowering of medieval Catalan culture. The church is an outstanding example of Catalan Gothic style of architecture with its unique purity, reduced to the construction of such an unusually massive and inspiring building.
Santa Maria del Mar dates back to the year 998. The building we see today was established to be created in 1324 by order of Archbishop Bernard Yulya, who took over the patronage of the church. Construction of the church began on March 25, 1329; when the first stone was laid by King Alfonso IV of Aragon, which is marked on a front plate in Catalan and Latin. Its main architects were listed Berenguer de Montagut and Ramon Despouy.
During the time of construction of the church, all the guilds of the La Ribera were involved in this gigantic task. The walls, the side chapels, and the facades were finished by 1350. In 1379 there was a fire that damaged many of the important elements of the work. Finally, on November 3, 1383, the last stone was laid and on 15 August 1384, the church was consecrated. In 1428 an earthquake destroyed several windows on the west side of the church. Images and the baroque altar was destroyed in a fire in 1936 and the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, next to the apse was added in the 19th century.
The facade of Santa Maria del Mar gives the impression of a massive heavy building, which is contrary to the feelings you receive from being within the church. It is difficult to evaluate this architectural creation in full, as the church is surrounded by narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter. Only with the square of Santa Maria can see from the medieval building. It is noteworthy that the northwest tower was completed back in 1496.
It’s surprising that when entering the inside of the church, the impression of its massiveness and heaviness changes immediately. Inside, you will feel a lot of space and light around. This is supported by the fact that the simple ribbed vaults are supported by slender octagonal columns, and abundant streams of natural light pass through the high windows. The interior is almost devoid of the imagery, which can be found in other large Gothic churches of Barcelona.
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Particularities of the church
Santa Maria del Mar is a truly unique church that has a lot of particularities. Indeed, it was built in just 55 years. The church was built from 1329 to 1384, while usually in the Middle Ages, the construction of churches lasted more than a century. Therefore, the church Santa Maria del Mar is the only church that has a pure Catalan Gothic style.
If you look at the ground, you will see the tombs of the Middle Ages. The church was the temple of lovers and merchants of Gothic Barcelona.
In addition, the columns have been constructed in such a special way that it will give you an impression of gravity when you are inside the Church.
Another special fact about this architectural monument is that during the Civil War, anarchists and communists set fire to the interior. It had to be rebuilt.
Visiting this church is an amazing experience, you will be seized by the stained glass windows that are of unparalleled beauty. And if you are passionate about photography, there are illuminations and visual effects.
And finally, when art and cinema meet … watch the show the Cathedral del Mar on Netflix! This series is going to Barcelona on the 14th and is linked to the church of Santa Maria del Mar. To whet your mouth, it is a Spanish drama series that tells the ascent determined a serf to wealth and freedom. This earned him the contempt of the nobility and arouses the suspicions of the Inquisition.
How to get there?
- Metro: Jaume I (L4 – yellow).
- Bus: 17, 19, 40, 45
- Barcelona Bus touristic stop: Plaça de Palau