Santa María del Mar in Barcelona
This article is about the church in Barcelona. For other uses, see Santa María del Mar (disambiguation).
Santa Maria del Mar is an imposing church in the Ribera district of Barcelona, Spain, built between 1329 and 1383 at the height of Catalonia's maritime and mercantile preeminence. It is an outstanding example of Catalan Gothic, with a purity and unity of style that are very unusual in large mediaeval buildings.
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 Ramon Despuig, and during the construction all the guilds of the Ribera quarter were involved. The new window, in the Flamboyant style, was finished by 1459 the basic unit of measurement used in Santa Maria del Mar was the mediaeval foot of 33 centimetres. Measured in this way, the side chapels are 10 feet deep, the width of the side aisles is double this, while the central aisle is four times as wide, that is, 40 feet. The total width of the church is thus 100 mediaeval feet, which is also equal to the maximum height of the building.
In popular culture
The construction of Santa Maria del Mar is the background for the best-selling novel La catedral del mar, by Ildefonso Falcones (2006).