Santa Maria del Mar church in Barcelona is one of the main churches in the city, also called the cathedral of La Ribera. It is literally called Saint Mary of the Sea, the neighbourhood was known to be a fishermen town at the time as well as the space for artisans and craftsmen. Even nowadays, you can see these trades and businesses reflected in the street names of the area.
The church was probably one of the fastest of being built, during medieval times building a church could take easily a century and they managed to built Santa Maria del Mar in 55 years. The construction process was very special as locals and mainly workers who loaded and unloaded the ships (called "bastaixos") where the ones that using their hands, backs and boats have transport the stone needed to built from Montjuïc quarry to their destination.
Santa Maria is one of the best examples of Gothic style architecture and is located in the Born/Gothic area, it is very convenient when visiting the old neighbourhood to stop by.The church has three naves with very tall columns that are set 13 meters apart from each other. The structure Santa Maria has gives the impression that is a big space, with an incredible width and height, and the stained glass windows also help having that impression of space.
From the outside the church is austere, but there is a magnificent rose window at the back and you can observe it while having a drink in the square just in front where there are bars and restaurants. On the inside, you can see private tombs from medieval guilds and brotherhoods.
If you read the book Cathedral of the Sea by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Santa Maria del Mar is the church that he talks about in his book that follows the process of construction and how the population at the time believed this church to be the people's church.
Santa Maria del Mar rooftop tour
If you want to have the full experience and take the chance to visit the roof terraces in Santa Maria, now you can from May to October. There is no need to book, you can buy them in the very same church the ticket for the rooftop tour. The tour is 45 minutes, the guide will go through the story of the church and how it is tied so much to the neighbourhood. The climb up to the rooftop is through a narrow staircase and there is no lift, so something to take into account if you have reduced mobility.
Opening Times and Entry Fee
Mon – Sat 9:30 – 13:00 17:00 – 20:30 FREE entry to the nave only
Sunday 10:00 – 13:00 17:00 – 20:00 FREE entry to the nave only
13:00 – 17:00 Entrance to the nave, choir and crypt €5
11:00 – 19:00 Rooftop tour (access to the nave, choir, crypt and roof terraces) €8
Disclaimer: Santa Maria del Mar picture by Melissa Delzio