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Santa Maria del Mar

The Cathedral of the Sea

Inside Santa Maria del Mar

Santa Maria del Mar is the most beautiful and pure of all Catalan Gothic churches, if not all churches, full stop. It occupies a spot that has long been holy: an earlier chapel here was built over the tomb of the city's patron Santa Eulàlia, who was buried here in AD 303 before her relics were transferred to the Cathedral.

In 1235, when Jaume I conquered Mallorca, he promised his sailors he would build a fine new church to their patroness, Mary, Star of the Sea. It was a promise that remained unfulfilled but unforgotten until another king, Alfons III, took Sardinia with the aid of the sailors’ great grandsons, and celebrated the conquest by laying the first stone in 1329.

The sculptor Berenguer de Montagut drew up the design, basing it on the model of an ancient Roman basilica. La Ribera at the time had a booming population of sailors, porters, tradesmen and small merchants divided into guilds, who donated their labour to build it, completing the church in a mere 50 years, which more than anything contributed to its rare stylistic purity.

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Medieval Art and Architecture


La Ribera / El Born

Top Sights

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by Magnificus, Xavier Caballe