Why Visit Santa Maria Del Mar (6 reasons in 2023)!

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Welcome to Spain.


In this blog post, we’ll cover EVERYTHING you need to know about the Santa Maria Del Mar church in Barcelona.


This includes our TOP 6 REASONS to visit with some INSIDER tips and tricks!


Let’s get started.


If you’re curious about the exact location and if’s within reach of your other destinations in Barcelona, you can put this address in Google Maps: Plaça de Santa Maria, 1, 08003 Barcelona, Spain.


Entrance Fee

As of November 2023, the entrance to the main area of Santa Maria del Mar is FREE for visitors before 1 pm or after 5 pm. Otherwise, the entrance fee is 5 euros.


However, if you would like to take a guided tour or visit the rooftop terraces, there is a fee involved (8.5 euros).

Santa Maria Del Mar
Santa Maria Del Mar

Reason 1: The History of Santa Maria Del Mar

Santa Maria Del Mar, also known as the CATHEDRAL OF THE SEA, was built in the 14th century. The church was constructed in only 55 YEARS, an impressive fact considering the time period (most churches take more than 100 years to complete).


DID YOU KNOW? The basilica was built by fishermen and traders, as a symbol of their devotion to the Virgin Mary.

Basilica Santa Maria Del MarThe church’s construction was funded entirely by the people of the district, who worked tirelessly to build it. Can you imagine, making money to built your own church?


Over the years, Santa Maria Del Mar has played a SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN HISTORY of Barcelona.


During the Spanish Civil War, the church was used as a FOOD STOREHOUSE (cool, right?), and it suffered a lot of damage during the war.

The fire of the Santa Maria Del Mar
Damage to the Basilica Santa Maria Del Mar

Reason 2: Tales of Survival and Resilience

To this day, the basilica stands as a showcase of the RESILIENCE of the local people who have always rebuilt the basilica after it was damaged.


One such example is the Great Fire of 1936, during which the church was engulfed IN FLAMES FOR ELEVEN DAYS (remember when the Notre Dame in France was also in flames?), resulting in the destruction of expensive artwork and stained glass windows.


Yet, the people of Barcelona refused to let their beloved church crumble; they reconstructed the damaged sections and restored the basilica to its former glory.


Read below for more information about the architecture!

Reason 3: Architecture

Santa Maria Del Mar’s architecture is AMAZING.


The basilica’s nave is one of the WIDEST IN THE WORLD, measuring 22 meters wide and 33 meters high. The church’s most striking feature is its stained glass windows, which are some of the most beautiful in Spain.


The windows are made up of over 3,000 PIECES OF GLASS and are a beautiful display of color and light as you can see in the picture below.


The façade is divided into three parts, each of which represents a different aspect of the church’s construction. The lower part of the façade represents the people of the Ribera district, who built the church.


The middle section represents the saints, and the upper part represents the HOLY TRINITY.

inside the basilica
Inside the Basilica

Reason 4: Legends and Mysteries

Like many old buildings, Santa Maria Del Mar has its share of legends and mysteries. One of the most famous is the legend of the “ANGEL OF LIGHT.


One day, while working on the roof, the worker fell and was left for dead. However, when his colleagues returned to retrieve his body, they found him alive and unharmed. The worker claimed that he had been saved by an angel who had appeared to him in a bright light.


The legend of the “Angel of the Light” has become a symbol of HOPE and INSPIRATION for many people.

Comparison 1936 and 2018

Reason 5: Spiritual Significance

Throughout the year, the basilica hosts many different rituals, ceremonies, and religious events that bring people together.


From the sacred rites of BAPTISM and MARRIAGE to the solemn observance of FUNERAL services, Santa Maria del Mar bears witness to the most profound moments in the lives of its parishioners.


One notable religious event held within the church is the annual Feast of CORPUS CHRISTI, during which the entire Gothic Quarter comes alive with vibrant processions, ornate decorations, and a spirited atmosphere of devotion.


As participants make their way through the narrow streets, they eventually converge upon Santa Maria del Mar, where a special Mass takes place, further emphasizing the church’s spiritual significance.

Concert in the basilica
Concert in the Basilica

Reason 6: Modern-Day Importance

In addition to its spiritual significance, Santa Maria del Mar holds a prominent place in modern-day Barcelona as both a tourist attraction and a cultural landmark.


Its stunning architecture and rich history have earned it a well-deserved spot on the UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE LIST, further cementing its importance not only to the city but also to the global community.


Each year, thousands of visitors from around the world visit the basilica, marveling at its exquisite Gothic design and soaking in its storied past.

Santa Maria del Mar’s influence extends beyond tourism, making its mark on various forms of art, literature, and popular culture.


A prime example is the bestselling novel “TEH CATHEDRAL OF THE SEA” by Ildefonso Falcones, which uses the basilica as its central backdrop.


Set in 14th-century Barcelona, the book intricately weaves together the lives of its characters with the construction of Santa Maria del Mar, highlighting the church’s cultural and historical significance.


The novel’s success has further increased interest in the basilica, drawing even more visitors eager to experience the captivating setting firsthand.

Roof of the Basilica
Roof of the Basilica


That’s it, that everything you need to know to visit the cathedral!


Let us know about your experience in the comments! We love reading them!


Keep planning your trip to Spain


Entrance fee to Santa Maria Del Mar

As of June 2023, the entrance to the main area of Santa Maria del Mar is FREE for visitors before 1 pm or after 5 pm, otherwise, the entrance fee is 5 euros. However, if you would like to take a guided tour or visit the rooftop terraces, there is a fee involved (8.5 euros). We recommend checking the church’s official website or contacting them directly for the most up-to-date information on fees and tour schedules.


How to Get to Santa Maria Del Mar

Santa Maria Del Mar is located in the heart of Barcelona’s Ribera district and is easily accessible by public transportation. The closest metro station is Jaume I, which is on the yellow line. From the metro station, it is only a short walk to the church. Visitors can also take the bus or walk from other parts of the city.

Best Time to Visit Santa Maria Del Mar

The best time to visit Santa Maria Del Mar is during the weekdays when the church is less crowded. The basilica is open to the public every day of the week, and visitors can attend mass on Sundays. It is also possible to take a guided tour of the church, which is a great way to learn more about its history and architecture.

Things to Do Near Santa Maria Del Mar

There are plenty of things to do near Santa Maria Del Mar. The church is located in the heart of the Ribera district, which is full of charming streets, shops, and restaurants. Visitors can take a stroll through the district’s narrow streets, visit the Picasso Museum, or explore the nearby Born Market. The Born Market is a beautiful building once a market but has been converted into a cultural center.


Where to Eat Near Santa Maria Del Mar

Plenty of restaurants near Santa Maria Del Mar serve delicious Catalan cuisine. One of the best is La Paradeta, which is a seafood restaurant located in the heart of the Ribera district. The restaurant is known for its fresh seafood, which is displayed on ice and sold by weight.

Other popular restaurants include La Vinya del Senyor, which serves traditional Catalan dishes, and El Xampanyet, which is famous for its sparkling wine and tapas.

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Laura & Alexander

Laura & Alexander

We're two full-time Belgian travellers sharing our experience through our blog. Our aim is to inspire your next travel adventure with our best tips and tricks from every country we visit.

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