Santa Maria del Mar
Santa Maria del Mar is the most beautiful of Barcelona’s churches and cathedrals, and a personal favourite. As Robert Hughes points out in his Barcelona, the anarchists did the building a favour by burning it out on in July 1936, so scorching hundreds of years of Catholic baroque kitch and restoring the walls , vaulting and columns to the original stark and beautiful bare stone, though the fire raged for 11 days and almost led to the collapse of the whole structure. The basilica is considered an outstanding example of Catalan Gothic.
See also Door of Santa Maria del Mar (with interesting detail)
The first mention of a church of Santa Maria by the sea dates from 998. The construction of the present building was promoted by the canon Bernat Llull, who was appointed Archdean of Santa Maria in 1324. Construction work started on 25 March 1329, when the foundation stone was laid by king Alfonso IV of Aragon, as commemorated by a tablet in Latin and Catalan on the facade that gives onto Fossar de les Moreres. The architects in charge were Berenguer de Montagut (designer of the building) and Ramón Despuig, and during the construction all the guilds of the Ribera quarter were involved.The walls, the side chapels and the facades were finished by 1350. In 1379 there was a fire that damaged important parts of the works. Finally, on 3 November 1383 the last stone was added and on 15 August the first mass was celebrated In 1428 an earthquake caused several casualties and destroyed the rose window in the west end
One of the most representative examples of Catalan Gothic architecture, it features a sombre but beautiful interior. The upsweeping verticality and lightness of the interior are especially surprising considering the blocky exterior surfaces. Built between 1329 and 1383, it was once was home to a Christian cult in the late 3rd century. The church is dedicated to Saint Mary of the Sea, since the quarter where is located (Born) was dedicated to the jobs related to the sea, from sailors to harbor works, commerce (see Carrer Montcada), even coin exchange (now you can do it in any bank, then was made in front of the church). The inside was burned during the Civil War, but it is still very interesting.
Ironically, the church owes its present formal perfection and soaring spirituality to the anticlerical fury of the anarchists who on July 18, 1936, upon learning of the military rebellion that would plunge Spain into a bloody civil war, burned nearly all of Barcelona”s churches as a reprisal against the alliance of army, church, and oligarchy that had ended Spain”s democratic experiment begun in 1931. The basilica, filled with immense and ornate side chapels and mammoth wooden choir stalls, burned for 11 days and nearly crumbled as a result of the intense heat. Restored after the end of the Spanish civil war by a series of Bauhaus-trained architects, all of whom understood the formal purity of the original design, Santa Maria del Mar has become one of the city”s most universally admired architectural gems.