The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar (in Catalan, Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar; and in Spanish, Basílica de Santa María del Mar) is a religious temple located in the Barri de La Ribera, in the historic center of Barcelona. In addition, it’s one of the best-known basilicas in the Catalan capital, along with the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia and the Basilica of Santa Maria del Pi.
Built between 1329 and 1384, the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the Catalonia region. And if you think the main façade is impressive, wait until you see its interior. This is because the breadth and grandeur of the three naves leave anyone speechless!
So, do you want to know How To Visit The Basilica Of Santa Maria Del Mar In 2023? Keep reading!
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- Brief History of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
- How to Get to the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
Brief History of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
The history of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar dates back to the times of the Roman Empire when Christianity arrived in the Roman colony of Barcino – present-day Barcelona. At that time, the Christian community was still a small minority, living outside the city walls and by the Mediterranean Sea.
The first records of the Parish of Santa Maria del Mar (in Catalan, Parròquia de Santa Maria del Mar; and in Spanish, Parroquia de Santa María del Mar) date from the 7th century. But it’s known that there used to be a chapel dedicated to the Santa Maria de les Areias (in Spanish, Santa María de las Arenas).
At the beginning of the 14th century, the neighborhood known today as Barri de La Ribera was the home of the population of Barcelona linked to port activity: sailors, fishermen, merchants, boat builders, etc. For this reason, the ecclesiastical authorities and the Crown of Aragon decided to build a church that would better serve their people.
The first stone of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar was laid on March 25th, 1329, and the last on November 3rd, 1383. The architects responsible for the project were Berenguer de Montagut and Ramon Despuig, and the temple was consecrated by Pere de Planella (the then Bishop of Barcelona), on August 15th, 1384.
How to Get to the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
As I mentioned earlier, the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is located in the historic center of Barcelona, so it’s very easy to get there. The Catholic church is about 300 meters from Jaume I and Barceloneta stations (both served by metro line 4), as well as from the Estación de Francia (the second largest train station in the city).
Opening Hours & Ticket Prices
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is open every day for cultural visits, from 10 am to 8:30 pm. As for tickets, there are two types: one costs €5 and gives access to the temple’s interior, the space/museum of the tribunes, and the crypt; the other is priced at €10 and includes all these visiting spaces, plus the towers and roofs.
TIP: Barcelona Card holders have a €1 discount on the ticket!
What to See at the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
The Main Façade of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar (in Catalan, Façana Principal; and in Spanish, Fachada Principal) faces Santa Maria Square (in Catalan, Plaça de Santa Maria; and in Spanish, Plaza de Santa María).
Flanked by two octagonal towers, the Main Façade has an austere and massive appearance, with smooth surfaces and shapes with the same depth – some typical features of the Catalan Gothic style, which distinguish it from the Gothic style of central and northern Europe.
Also, the rose window and other windows of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar have simple details and more discreet stained glass and are much smaller in number when compared to Gothic churches in France, Germany, Belgium, and England.
The High Altar of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar (in Catalan, Altar Major; and in Spanish, Altar Mayor) is the most important space of this Catholic temple. Unfortunately, its magnificent Baroque altarpiece was destroyed at the start of the Spanish Civil War, after a violent assault and fire on July 19th, 1936.
As you can see from the photograph, there’s no architectural separation between the central nave and the presbytery, which precedes the High Altar – not even a transept. In reality, the “heart” of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is visible from almost every corner of the church!
Not everyone knows, but the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is made up of 34 chapels (or 35, if we include the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, which faces the Passeig del Born). And almost all of them are adorned with stained glass windows and sculptures of saints or other biblical characters!
Among them, there are several dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, Chapel of Our Lady of Remedies, Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary, etc.), and to Jesus Christ (Chapel of Holy Christ Crucified and Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus).
The Crypt of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar (in Catalan and in Spanish, Cripta) is installed below the presbytery and can be accessed via a side staircase.
Its construction began in the 1960s, shortly after the completion of archaeological excavations under the High Altar. These discovered traces of an early Christian necropolis, attesting to the longevity of this sacred site. Especially because the more than one hundred graves found date from the 4th to the 6th centuries!
These days, the Crypt of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar houses the tomb of Saint Cucuphas (in Catalan, Sant Cugat), whose remains were transferred from the extinct Church of Sant Cugat del Rec (in Catalan, Església de Sant Cugat del Rec).
Did you know that the two Towers of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar (in Catalan and in Spanish, Torres) aren’t the same age? The truth is that the West Tower was completed in 1496, while the East Tower was only crowned in 1902! Still, the East Tower has served as a clock tower since 1674.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the two Towers of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar are shaped like an octagon. And they are two of the best examples to appreciate the Montjuïc stone, the raw material most used in the construction of this monument (and so many others in Barcelona, from the Roman period to the 20th century)!
In my opinion, the Rooftops of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar (in Catalan, Cobertes; and in Spanish, Cubiertas) are the best-kept secret of this Gothic temple. I mean, how many panoramic viewpoints in Barcelona offer these breathtaking views of the city?
After climbing more than thirty meters up a spiral staircase, you have the opportunity to closely admire the main rose window, the two towers, or even decorative elements such as the stained glass windows and the gargoyles. Not to mention the historic buildings that dot the landscape, such as the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia or Montjuïc Castle!
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What Photography Gear Do I Use?
- Camera Body: Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless
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- Small Tripod: Manfrotto PIXI Mini
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