The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is seen as one of the best examples of Catalan Gothic architecture, which has noticeable differences to the European Gothic tradition. It is one of the most beautiful churches in Barcelona, even taking in to account the city’s much more well-known Cathedral. In spite of the fact that all indications show that the basilica originated in the year 998 AD, the current basilica actually dates back to the 14th century, and it was constructed under the supervision of craftsmen Berenguer de Montagut and Ramón Despuig.
Highlights about the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
Located in the area of el Born in the neighborhood of Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i La Ribera, the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar is one of the most sought-after churches for couples getting married in Barcelona, so it’s quite common to find a wedding taking place there. Tourists can often be found mingling with wedding guests in the steps up to the main entrance to the church, waiting to get a photograph of the bride as she comes out.
All about the visits to the basilica
Despite the fact that the basilica is not as well-known as the Sagrada Familia or Barcelona’s Cathedral, in more recent years the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar has found itself in an area visited more frequently by tourists, thanks to the interest kindled by the well-known books ‘La Catedral del Mar’ (Cathedral of the Sea) and ‘El Juego del Ángel’ (The Angel’s Game) by the local authors Ildefonso Falcones and Carlos Ruíz Zafón respectively.
Despite the impact of the media, it is still possible to visit the church for free during certain hours of the day and to take photographs without any problem. Although during mass it is not viewed favourably and maximum respect for the churchgoers is requested. If you want to go up to the terraces and enjoy the fantastic views of the old neighbourhood of La Ribera the only way to do so is by going on a guided tour.
Times of free visits
Working days: from 9.00am to 1.00pm and from 5.00pm to 8.30pm.
Sundays and Public Holidays: from 9.00am to 2.00pm and from 5.00pm to 8.30pm.
Visits during the cultural tours are €5 general | €2 students.
Working days: from 1.00pm to 17.00pm.
Sundays and Public Holidays: from 2.00pm to 17.00pm.
The three magnificent façades, which emphasize the two octagonal towers and the huge amount of bare stone surfaces, give the building quite an imposing feel, as it’s difficult to gain an overall impression due to the fact that the church is so hemmed in by the narrow streets of La Ribera. Despite the simplicity of the interior of the church, it’s just as impressive; in fact this simplicity is what gives the church its incredible acoustics, making it the host of many choral concerts and even some jazz.
Guided visit to Santa Maria del Mar
As well as being able to visit the Basilica for free during certain hours of the day there is the option of taking a tourist visit, a guided tour inside the church where the visitor is introduced to the history of the church and the area of La Ribera when the church was built. Shortly after you go up to the first of the three terraces you can see and almost touch the large rose window, which as you are explained during the visit, suffered a misfortune due to an earthquake. After that, and whilst listening to the detailed explanations from the guide, you access the second terrace with incredible views of the city. After the guide finishes his commentary you continue up to the third terrace, with some views, if it wasn’t enough before, that are even more spectacular and with a 360 panoramic view of the city from one of the most central and historical areas.
After climbing the stairs in the bell tower you return to the church, where you see more of the interior accompanied by the guide (if it is a guided visit of 55 minutes) or by yourself (if it is a visit of 45 minutes) which allows you to also take photos of the enormous central nave, impressive ceiling and many chapels.
Duration: Visits of 55 minutes and others of 45 minutes.
General: €8.00 (45 minutes visits) and €10.00 (55 minutes visits).
Free: children under 8 years.
Languages: Spanish, Catalan and English.
Times: depends on the time of year.
You can buy tickets to visit the Santa María del Mar Basilica and terraces online, which is recommended as the guided visit is done in small groups and it is possible that, if you don’t book your ticket early enough, there may not be any places left. So, on the day of the visit you should come 10 minutes before to the ticket office located at the entrance of the church at Plaça (square) de Santa Maria, and show the printed receipt you receive when you make the purchase online.
c/ (street) dels Sombrerers 6, Barcelona.
Full information is shown above.
Full information is shown above.
How to get there
Metro: Jaume I and Barceloneta (line 4).
Buses: lines 14, 17, 19, 40, 45, 51, 120 and tourist bus.