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Church of Santa Maria del Mar

Built in Catalonian Gothic style, this Basilica has been through a lot.

TravelCurious Tip

Look out for the rose window at the church’s west end. A survivor of the 1936 fire, this beautiful stained glass was designed by Pere Joan and Andreu Escuder in 1459 after a 1428 earthquake destroyed the original.

Catalan glory

The first mention of a church on the site of Santa Maria del Mar dates from 998. The area around this small chapel grew into the thriving port district of Barcelona, busy with merchants, fishermen, trading vessels, builders and craftsmen. The majestic building we see today was created by master builder Berenguer de Montagut using stone from the nearby mountain Montjuïc, and completed in 1383, during Catalonia’s prime as a centre of maritime commerce.

While it looks rather imposing from outside, the church’s interior is bright and spacious. In 1936, during the Civil War, a fire blazed inside the church for eleven days and sadly destroyed much of its magnificent decoration, including a Baroque altarpiece. Fortunately, some of the stained glass windows on the top levels were high enough to escape the flames and can still be admired by visitors today.


Sacred circumference

Careful restorations to the church have ensured the retention of its distinctive and elegant Catalonian Gothic style. It follows the ad quadratum ideal of sacred geometry: a high ceiling of intertwining arches is supported by thick octagonal columns, creating a huge space of perfect circumference - 33m wide and 33m high.

In 1965, the remains of the Baroque altar were excavated and replaced; a Roman necropolis was discovered beneath, and was remodelled into a functional crypt in which the relics of St. Cugat del Rec have been held since 2000. Many important saints have worshipped here over the years, and the church remains an important devotional centre for the Catholic faith today, taking an active role in the local community and offering charity to those in need.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Barcelona
Gothic Quarter
Barcelona’s oldest and most atmospheric district.
Picasso Museum
A wonderful collection traces Picasso’s creative genius from his roots in Barcelona.
Barcelona Cathedral
A magnificent Gothic cathedral in the old centre of Barcelona, and the seat of the Archbishop of Spain.
La Rambla
A bustling tree-line promenade through the heart of Barcelona.
El Fossar de les Moreres
Memorial to the defenders of Barcelona who died in the siege of 1714
Parc de la Ciutadella
Scenic city park housing the Catalan Parliament

Related Tours

Private Full Day Highlights Tour inc Tickets: The Best of Vibrant Barcelona
Barcelona has become a popular tourist destination for visitors around the world as it is home to some of the world’s best historical buildings and sites, food and culture, and amazing beaches. This tour is ideal for those who would like a taste of what Barcelona has to offer in a day. Whether you’re interested in history, taking a walk through the vibrant streets of the Gothic Quarter, indulging in various delicious cuisines, and soaking in the city’s uniquely designed buildings, you will experience a bit of everything through this tour.  

  • Explore Park Güell, a prime example of Barcelona’s modernism, and one of the highest points of the city.
  • Visit the breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage site La Sagrada Família Cathedral, designed by Antonio Gaudí.
  • Take a walk through the vibrant areas of Barcelona, which will lead you to the heart of the city Plaza Catalonia, the bustling street of  Las Ramblas, the unforgettable Gothic Quarter, and to the magnificent Church of Santa Maria del Mar.
  • Take the cable car to Montjuïc Castle, an ancient military fortress perched high above the City.
Please note: Your clothing must be appropriate to enter the Sagrada Familia. Whilst they are less strict on knees not being covered - the length of your shorts or skirts must be appropriate. Your shoulders must be covered, you cannot wear see-through clothing, nor have an exposed back or belly (no swimwear). 
A Full Day Private VIP Tour of Barcelona inc Transportation
Get the VIP treatment in Barcelona and explore the Catalan city in the luxury of your own private vehicle and guide, where comfort and convenience are guaranteed. 

  • Receive skip the line entrance tickets to all attractions visited during the tour.
  • Marvel at Gaudí’s creations – visit sites like Sagrada Família Cathedral – Barcelona’s most iconic and architectural gem, still undergoing construction. 
  • Get lost in the Heart of Barcelona – come across landmarks like the bustling Plaza Catalonia and Las Ramblas
  • Discover the inspiring artwork at the Picasso Museum
  • Soak in the sun at Barcelona’s breathtaking seafront and beaches
On this tour, you will see some of Gaudí’s awe-inspiring masterpieces, including Sagrada Família Cathedral and Parc Güell – which are unlike the work of any artist. Your journey will take you through the heart of Barcelona, where you will experience the liveliness of La Rambla and Plaza Catalonia  and the history of the Gothic Quarter. From there, you will immerse yourself in the brilliance of Pablo Picasso at the Picasso Museum and end the day at Barcelona’s stunning beachfront and Olympic Port

Please note: Your clothing must be appropriate to enter the Sagrada Familia. Whilst they are less strict on knees not being covered - the length of your shorts or skirts must be appropriate. Your shoulders must be covered, you cannot wear see-through clothing, nor have an exposed back or belly (no swimwear). 
Medieval Barcelona Private Walking Tour: El Born
Northwest of the Gothic quarter lies a part of the city which retains the rambling, medieval nature of the city but avoids much of the modern bustle of tourists. Go with your guide on a walk through El Born to learn about this eclectic neighbourhood.

·        Venture into one of medieval Barcelona’s well-to-do neighbourhoods
·        Visit the Basilica Santa Maria del Mar and see where Barcelona’s defenders are remembered
·        Enjoy the bucolic features of the Parc de la Ciutadella

A Walk into Barcelona’s Past

As you wander with your private guide  down the Carrer de Montcada, you will learn why Barcelona's artistic scene remains renown today. This medieval street has roots going back to the 12th century and was once where, the elite soldiers and merchants of Barcelona chose to build their houses. Many of these homes, including those belonging to Palau Aguilar and Palau Meca, remain standing today with distinctive architectural characteristics of their time.  

Gothic Church and National Memorial

At the end of the Carrer de Montcada is one of Barcelona’s finest Gothic buildings: Santa Maria del Mar. Built in only 55 years, it holds the tombs of many of the city's former luminaries. The church is also the burial grounds to El Fossar de les Moreres, who died in the 1714 siege of the Catalonian city. Here you will learn the revolutionary history that has shaped the politically-charged atmosphere of modern Barcelona. 

To the Park

Your tour continues with a walk through the Passeig de Born, which local legend holds was once the site of knightly jousts. Your guide will take you through the Carrer de la Ribera to the Parc de la Ciutadella, which was built over the site of a leveled Bourbon fortress. You will go through its gardens, past the Catalan Parliament, to Gaudi's Cascada Monumental. The large fountain, finally completed in 1888, has become one of Barcelona's most photographed locales. 
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