I love the Sumptuous Catalan Gothic Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar in the in the Ribera district of Barcelona Spain; also known as Cathedral of La Ribera. Its name represents maritime success; Santa Maria del Mar symbolizes the medieval naval supremacy of the House of Barcelona, its location on the seashore, and its use by the merchants and sailors of medieval Barcelona. It was founded to commemorate the recent Catalan conquest of Sardinia.
This neighborhood was formerly known as Vilanova de la Mar. This site was originally occupied by a Roman necropolis (cemetery) that was in use from the 4th to 6th centuries; discovered during excavations under the church in the 1960s.
The Cathedral of the Sea is close to the Picasso Museum and the Barcelona History Museum.
The Catalan Gothic Santa Maria del Mar church was built in just 55 years, from 1329 to 1383.
The main facade overlooks the Plaza de Santa María in the La Ribera neighborhood. At the time of the construction of the Basilica (14th century); this seaside neighborhood was just 50 meters from the beach and was inhabited by sailors, dockers and merchants.
The tympanum over the entrance to Santa Maria del Mar has a widened Catalan Gothic arch, with a sculpture of Christ flanked by the Virgin and St. John beneath a flamboyant mid-15th century rose window that replaced the original that was destroyed in 1428.
There are two octagonal towers adorned with Gothic windows. Many of the windows of Santa Maria del Mar were destroyed by the fire of 1936. The Last Judgment (1474), Pentecost and the Holy Supper (1711) have survived until today. One of the most prominent is the rose window of the main facade, which collapsed with the earthquake of 1428.
To truly appreciate this magnificent structure, read the novel, “Cathedral of the Sea” by Ildefonso Falcones.
If you read the book, you may also enjoy the eight-part Netflix historical drama series based upon the book. It takes place in 14th Century Spain and the main character is a serf named Bernat Estanyol (Daniel Grao) whose marriage to Francesca (Natalia de Molina) ends brutally. A Serf is an agricultural farmer tied to a lord in the feudal system; they are depicted as abusive lords in this series. Bernat flees with his infant son Arnau to Barcelona to escape the abusive lords.
It is a story of pain, love and guilt as heavy as the stones that Arnau carries for the construction of the cathedral. Workers carrying stones on their backs are represented on the main doors of the church, in commemoration of the guild members who personally helped to transport the heavy stone from the Montjuic quarry to their new church.
The construction of Santa Maria Del Mar acts as an anchor for the series.
It was built in just 55 years, from 1329 to 1384. Its structure comprises three naves of the same height, underpinned by very tall columns set 13 meters apart, a distance unsurpassed by any other existing medieval building. The tall columns were a major influence on Gaudi’s design of La Sagrada Familia.
If you look at the floor you’ll see private tombs and those of Barcelona’s medieval guilds and brotherhoods.
The basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, which was designed by Berenguer de Montagut, was the place of worship for the shipwrights and merchants of Gothic Barcelona.
Statue of Sant Aleix in the church
Facade of the Basilica
Catalonia was part of the great Aragonese maritime power and at one time it was one of the most prosperous cities in the Mediterranean. The foundation stone of the church was laid by King Alfonso IV of Aragon ( November 2, 1299 – January 24, 1336) and the Catalan Gothic church was built between 1329 and 1384.
In 1428 an earthquake destroyed the rose window on the west end of the church. It was replaced in the 15th century with a Gothic window.
The rib-vaulted ceilings are adorned with painted keystones:
Outside the church, visit the trendy Passeig El Born neighborhood with plenty of shopping and Vino con Vista opportunities. Dance the samba, sip cocktails and mingle with the trendy locals in El Born. El Born has a vast array of restaurants, ranging from Michelin Star establishments to trendy tappas bars and fusion cuisine.
Located in the Park Hotel Barcelona, Ten’s Tapas serves great tapas! The chef is Jordi Cruz, the youngest chef in Spanish history to receive a Michelin Star (he now has obtained 4 Michelin stars in total).
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes travel guides at www.vino-con-vista.com.