Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Santa Maria del Mar

Santa Maria del Mar is an imposing church in Barcelona, Catalonia. Located in the district of La Ribera, it was 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 Alfons the Kind, as commemorated by a tablet in Latin and Catalan on the facade that gives onto Fossar de les Moreres. The architects in charge were Berenger de Montagut (designer of the building) and Ramon Despuig, and during the construction all the guilds of the Ribera quarter were involved. The walls, the side chapels and the facades were finished by 1350. In 1379 there was a fire that damaged important parts of the works. Finally, on 3 November 1383 the last stone was added and on 15th August the first mass was celebrated. In 1428 an earthquake caused several casualties and destroyed the rose window in the west end.

The new window, in the Flamboyant style, was finished by 1459 and one year later the glass was added. The images and the Baroque altar were destroyed in a fire in 1936. The chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, adjacent to the apse, was added in the 19th century.

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