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Santa Maria del Mar

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The Cathedral of the Sea

Published by Emanuele Benetti — 6 years ago

Its story is so interesting that it has even become part of a book. Actually, I borrowed the title for this entry right from Ildefonso Falcones, whose recent novel La Catedral de la Mar made this imposing church known to everyone. And despite obviously featuring fictitious characters, the novel succeeds in conveying the charming history which permeates this huge blocks of stone. Located in the district of La Ribera, midway between the Gothic quarter and the area of the port, Santa Maria del Mar dates back to the 14th century, when he was built in record time, especially for the standards of the Middle Age.

Indeed, it took only 54 years (from 1329 to 1383) to erect this impressive church, a really short time in comparison to the 100-150 years normally needed to build cathedrals. The reason for this record is probably to be found in its peculiar story: normally, the setbacks in the construction of such churches were due to the lack of money, delaying the works for the impossibility of paying the workers and the materials. Not quite so in the case of Santa Maria del Mar, which was realised thanks to the huge effort of the bastaixos, the dockers who once a week stoically carried on their back heavy blocks of stone from the pits of Montjuch to La Ribera. In this sense, it may be rightfully stated that Santa Maria del Mar is the church of the people, really belonging to the Barcelonins.

It is curious to remark how the dramatic accomplishment of those unknown workers has not been forgotten: indeed, they are depicted in the sculptures appearing on the facade, as a partial compensation for their sacrifice. Under an architectonical point of view, the church is a perfect example of the Catalan version of the Gothic style, characterised by sobriety and balanced proportions. Nevertheless, the two towers located at the sides of the main facade are so impressively tall that they convey an impression of austerity, which is reflected by the church itself. No lavish decorations, indeed, will be found inside Santa Maria del Mar: the apparent severity of the church, though, is compensated by the pleasant atmosphere characterising the three naves. The abundant light let in by the wide stained glass windows, indeed, is not retained by the two series of thin columns, which on the contrary seem to highlight the openness of the space. But it is all the church, even since the dazzling whiteness of the facade, which conveys a sense of majesty and solemnity.

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La cattedrale del mare

Published by Emanuele Benetti — 6 years ago

La sua storia è talmente interessante che è perfino diventata parte di un libro. A dire la verità ho preso in prestito il titolo di questo post proprio da Ildefonso Falcones, il cui recente romanzo La Catedral de la Mar rese nota a tutti questa imponente chiesa. E nonostante i personaggi che vi compaiono siano ovviamente fittizi, il romanzo trasmette con successo l'affascinante storia che permea questi enormi blocchi di pietra. Situata nel distretto di La Ribera, a metà via tra il quartiere gotico e l'area del porto, Santa Maria del Mar risale al XIV secolo, quando fu costruita a tempo di record, soprattutto per gli standard del Medioevo.

Ci vollero solamente 54 anni (dal 1329 al 1383), infatti, per erigere questa impressionante chiesa, un periodo davvero breve in confronto ai 100-150 anni normalmente richiesti per costruire le cattedrali. La ragione di questo record sta nella sua particolare storia: normalmente, infatti, il principale intoppo per la costruzione di queste chiese risiedeva nell'impossibilità di pagare i lavoratori ed i materiali. Non fu così nel caso di Santa Maria del Mar, che fu realizzata grazie all'enorme sforzo dei bastaixos, gli scaricatori di porto che una volta alla settimana trasportavano eroicamente sulle proprie spalle pesanti blocchi di pietra dalle cave del Montjuich a La Ribera. In questo senso, si può a buon diritto affermare che Santa Maria del Mar è la chiesa del popolo, che realmente appartiene ai Barcelonins.

Bisogna sottolineare come curiosamente sia rimasta traccia delle drammatiche imprese di quegli sconosciuti operai: essi sono infatti raffigurati nelle sculture che decorano la facciata, come parziale ricompensa per il loro sacrificio. Dal punto di vista architettonico, la chiesa è un perfetto esempio della versione catalana dello stile gotico, caratterizzata da sobrietà e bilanciamento delle proporzioni. Ciò nonostante, le due torri situate ai lati della facciata principale sono così incredibilmente alte da trasmettere un'impressione di austerità, che si riflette nella chiesa stessa. All'interno di Santa Maria del Mar, infatti, non troverete nessuna decorazione sontuosa: l'apparente severità della chiesa, tuttavia, è compensata dalla tranquilla atmosfera che caratterizza le tre navate. La luce che filtra da rosoni e vetrate, infatti, non è oscurata dalle due serie di esili colonne, che sembrano al contrario esaltare l'ampiezza dello spazio. Ma è tutta la chiesa, a partire dall'abbagliante bianchezza della facciata, a trasmettere un senso di maestà e solennità.

A Reasonable Compromise

Translated by Daniele Iannarone — 4 years ago

Original text by Emanuele Benetti

Located in a favourable position, directly beside the Santa Maria del Mar church, this tiny restaurant is unlikely to feature in Barcelona restaurant guides, but it nevertheless constitutes a good choice for people who would need to decide upon a place to eat in the Ribera neighbourhood.

As I was saying, the restaurant is located along the tight street down the left side of the Santa Maria del Mar church. The church is literally surrounded by a series of interesting restaurants, even though only a few of them can be considered cheap or of good quality. Given this, Mar de La Ribera can be an interesting option, seeing as it offers a series of classical dishes of acceptable quality at a reasonable price. Among the dishes offered on the menu, most of them Spanish specialties such as paella, both meat and seafood, tortilla de patatas and fresh fish dishes, which are probably the restaurants best dishes.

When I went I decided to play it safe and opt for the seafood paella which had been elaborated satisfactorily, however it wasn't excellent. Regardless, the portion was pretty large and the fish was very good. Another piece of advice that may be useful: be careful when glancing at the menu presented outside the restaurant, since the prices there tend to not include the IVA (taxes). All in all, perhaps this restaurant isn't the best one, but it's located in a quiet and forgotten corner of the city and the quality of the food make it a reasonable choice for a quick meal in La Ribera.

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A church close to the sea

Published by Ethel Rudnitzki — 3 years ago

Santa Maria del Mar is a gothic church in Barcelona, really close to Barceloneta Beach.

That's the reason why the place is dedicated to the ocean.

With really big columns and towers, the church was built in the 14th century by spanish royalties. In it's interior you can see the royal family and the city's crest and also biblical episodes sculpted. All backlighted by stained glass windows


An intresting thing about the church is that there is a portuguese king burried inside it, because he was also king of Aragon: Pedro de Coimbra. 


It's a really beautiful church, but not as nice as Sagrada Familia. Also, there is an entrance fee of 4 euros. If you're saving money, don't bother going inside, just admire it from the outside. 


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