About Santa Maria del Mar
Eglesia de Santa Maria del Mar (St Mary of the Sea Church) is a 14th century Catalan-Gothic church in Barcelona’s Born District, Spain. Originally built to celebrate the Catalan conquest of Sardinia, Santa Maria del Mar is now one of Barcelona’s most famous churches and its best example of Catalan-Gothic architecture, designed by architect Berenguer de Montagut.
Not only is Santa Maria del Mar a popular historic site, the church is also one of the most sought-after locations for couples getting married in Barcelona. So when visiting, expect to find a wedding taking place there.
Santa Maria del Mar history
With the sheer size and scale of Santa Maria del Mar, it is somewhat surprising to find that its construction, begun in 1324, was completed in the relatively short time of 59 years. Yet the church reflected the height of Catalonia’s maritime and mercantile standing in the world.
The foundation stone was laid by King Alfonso IV of Aragon, but the church was unusual as being supported by the common people – not just nobility. After being finished in 1383, the church was shortly after damaged during the 1428 earthquake. The Santa Maria del Mar saw later destruction during the Spanish Civil War when anti-clerical rioters attacked the Baroque altar and rich images.
Santa Maria del Mar today
Despite its severe interior, upon entering Santa Maria del Mar one is struck by the feeling of space provided by its incredible height and supported by a central nave flanked by looming arches and octagonal pillars. This feeling is all the more potent given its empty interior, mostly due to a fire which destroyed much of its internal furnishing in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War.
If visiting on Sundays at 1pm, visitors can enjoy an atmospheric choir performance.
Getting to Santa Maria del Mar
Nestled within the medieval neighbourhood of Sant Pere, Santa Maria del Mar is easily reached via public transport. Buses N0, N6, N8 and N28 stop at Pla de Palau only minutes from the church.