The Santa María del Mar (Saint Mary of the Sea) Church in el Born is one of the finest Gothic churches anywhere in Spain. The building is inextricably linked with the history, traditions and folklore of El Born, one of Barcelona's most intriguing neighbourhoods to visit. Furthermore, the interior is absolutely spectacular. It's definitely worth setting a few hours aside to explore the Santa Maria del Mar Church.
History of Santa María del Mar
Construction of the church was begun in 1329. The first stones were brought by labourers from a quarry on Montjuic. By 1383 the last stones were lifted into place. In the intervening years the church has been damaged and restored several times. The Church was dedicated to Santa María del Mar, the patron saint of local fishermen. During medieval times the sea reached El Born, before land was reclaimed and the district of Barceloneta built bwetween el Born and the sea.
Santa María del Mar Architecture
On the church's portal look out for sculptures of the baistaxos - the porters who carried all the stone from Mountjuic on their backs. While the rather severe facade is still a splendid visual treat, it's the interior which wins the heart. The thing that strikes you upon entering is the light. The lauded Mediterranean light streams in through lofty windows, playing beautifully on the soaring naked stone columns.
Santa María del Mar in Literature
The Catalan author Illdefons Verdaguer made the church and its construction the focal point of his bestselling epic novel, The Cathedral of The Sea. Althpough the book is a playful rerendering of history, it lucidly recreates Barcelona during its medieval heyday and recounts the rags-to-riches story of a humble slave who becomes one of the stone-layers of the church before becoming a wealthy patron.
Address: Plaça Santa María del Mar, Born-Ribera, Barcelona
Opening Times: Daily 9am - 1.30pm and 4.30pm - 8pm
Admission: Free of charge
How to Get There: Santa María del Mar church is a three minute walk from Jaume I Metro Station (Yellow Line)
Getting to Barcelona: Barcelona is served by Barcelona El Prat Airport, and Renfe trains connect from all other major Spanish cities to Sants Estacio.