The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is a minor basilica located in the city of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It was built between 1329 and 1383 and is a masterpiece of Catalan Gothic architecture. It has been declared a Cultural Heritage Site since June 3, 1931.
The Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar stands on the site of a former Roman amphitheater or arena, where the body of Saint Eulalia, the patron saint of Barcelona, was said to rest. The original church was called Santa Maria de las Arenas. The construction of the current basilica was funded and supported by the local people of the port and the Ribera district, who were mostly sailors, dockworkers and merchants. They carried the huge stones from the royal quarry of Montjuic and from the beaches, where the ships had brought them to Barcelona, to the plaza of the Born, on their backs, one by one. The main door of the church pays tribute to these bastaixos who helped with its construction.
The Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar has a sober and imposing facade, framed by two octagonal towers. The interior has three naves of equal height, with numerous chapels and almost no visual obstacles, creating a spacious and light-filled space. The stained glass windows are remarkable, especially the rose window on the main facade, which collapsed with the earthquake of 1428 and was restored in 1460. The altar is surrounded by eight columns and separated from the ambulatory by a wrought iron fence.
The Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar is open to visitors every day from 9:00 am to 8:30 pm (10:00 am to 8:00 pm on Sundays). The entrance is free, but donations are welcome. There are guided tours available for a fee, which include access to the crypt, the choir, the terraces and the museum. You can also book online or at the ticket office. To get to the basilica, you can take the metro (line L4) to Jaume I station or Barceloneta station, or several bus lines (17, 19, 39, 40, 45, 51 and 120).
Some tips for visiting the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar are: respect the silence and the sacredness of the place; dress appropriately (no hats, shorts or sleeveless shirts); do not take photos with flash or use tripods; do not eat or drink inside; do not touch any artwork or furniture; do not leave any litter; and follow the instructions of the staff. Some of the highlights of what to see inside are: the main altar with its Gothic retable; the chapel of Saint Eulalia with her sarcophagus; the chapel of Saint John with its baroque altarpiece; the chapel of Saint Joseph with its modernist stained glass window; and the organ with its impressive pipes.