If there is a famous church in Barcelona from a decade ago, that’s Santa María del Mar, popularly known by many as the Catedral of the Sea in Barcelona.
Its real full name is Minor Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar and was built between 1329 and 1383. But even if we knew the date of its creation, its majesty, its high interior columns as palm tree and finishes quickly define it as an admirable piece of Catalan Gothic style.
The church of Santa Maria del Mar is located in the district of La Ribera, right next to the popular neighborhood of El Born, an ideal place for tapas. In fact, the famous Cathedral of the Sea is surrounded by exquisite and varied tapas places.
Santa Maria del Mar has gained popularity and has been “rebranded” Cathedral of the Sea (remember that is not a cathedral) since 2006, thanks to the novel The Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones.
Although many people do not remember (perhaps read too fast… ) , another famous writer who always dedicated his books to Barcelona also mentions this church in one of them. Carlos Ruiz Zafon talked about Santa Maria del Mar in his book The Angel’s Game . In fact, many of the scenes in this book happen the district of La Ribera .
Santa Maria del Mar has always been known as the “Cathedral of the people” . It was built through the efforts and financial support from the residents of the Ribera neighborhood , humble fishing district , who were carrying stones on their backs and carried from the quarries of Montjuïc to the site of the basilica ( if you have read Falcones’ book , sure you remember the story) . The cathedral was begun in the fourteenth century, in a very different Barcelona from today .
It was built there because of the importance acquired Ribera neighborhood from the thirteenth century as a hub for merchants and shipowners. Before its construction was the Parish of Las Arenas , but he knew a little for how much I was growing up the neighborhood.
Santa Maria del Mar is a good example of the first Catalan Gothic, a stunning style. A building of large empty spaces perfectly timed, as the distinction of having perfect acoustics. This makes Santa Maria del Mar in a basilica with great beauty, ideal for various concerts of sacred music.
When we get inside we feel overwhelmed, surrounded by palm forest that it feels to be among the impressive Gothic columns. Contrary to what happens in other cathedrals, Gothic churches, Santa Maria del Mar is austere. No colorful or anything other than dim light rosettes; still it is impressive.
Santa Maria del Mar is a beautiful place to visit any time of year, if you’ve also been Falcones novel reader, you will live in a special way. Take the tour to wander La Ribera and El Born, are typical neighborhoods in Barcelona for those who worth missing 😉