Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
It is not very often that I read a book first and then visit the city, where the story has taken place. But that was the case with Barcelona. More than the city, I wanted to see the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar – having loved the “Cathedral of the Sea” by Ildefonso Falcones. The most touching parts of the novel revolve around this basilica during the time it was being constructed. During the first visit, I was only able to see it from outside, since the basilica was going to close to prepare for Christmas Eve service. Fair – but I was disappointed. With so much to see in the city, I felt pretty sure I wouldn’t make it back again. I walked around the periphery and carried on…
The western facade of the basilica of Santa Maria del Mar will greet you as you come to the Plaça de Santa Maria. The narrow streets made it difficult to capture the full front facade in a frame – at least with my camera. (Dec. 2014)
On the last evening, while guiding a couple and their child, I myself followed a different route back to the hotel, not knowing it would bring me to the basilica – now open. Don’t ask me why I would bother to guide others in a city, where I myself am a stranger… But they just seemed so lost and I had a map. Call it chance, luck, miracle, karma – I was overjoyed. I sat inside the basilica for a while in silence – thanking wordlessly the couple who sent me on this path. And then wandered around with flashes from the story of Arnau Estanyol in my head.
I remember the tympanum (over the western entrance) from the cover of the book. (Dec. 2014)
A memorial to those fallen in the defence of Barcelona in the siege of 1713-14. (Dec. 2014)
A look at the eastern entrance of the basilica, as I made my way away from it… the light shining over the door reminding me not to give up hope!
On the last evening, after helping a couple orient themselves, I took a different path to the hotel and found myself staring at he eternal flame of the Fossar de les Moreres – the memorial right next to the basilica. (Dec. 2014)
I was soon inside the basilica of Santa Maria del Mar – considered a masterpiece of the simple Catalan Gothic architecture. (Dec. 2014)
As I walked in I looked up at the ribbed vault with its keystone and something came over me. Do you know how it feels to have a wish granted without having to ask for it? (Dec. 2014)
The basilica of Santa Maria del Mar was built through contributions of major guilds of the city. Including the merchants, seamen, and poor porters working in the harbour, who carried stones for the basilica from Montjuic to the site – as a service for free. Therefore the little ship there. (Dec. 2014)
Compared to the other Gothic places of worship, this basilica seems very simple. And its columns are probably the slenderest stone columns I have seen. (Dec. 2014)
The new Rose window at the western end of the basilica was completed in 1459. The old one was destroyed in an earthquake. (Dec. 2014)
The spacing of the columns is the widest of any Gothic church in Europe—about forty-three feet apart, center to center. (Dec. 2014)