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St. Augustine, Florida
October 17, 2009
From journal Some of the Major Sites of Barcelona
February 18, 2004
Building began in 1329 in the heyday of Catalan trading prosperity when Barcelona was a maritime Mediterranean power with influence extending into Valencia and Sardinia, some areas of which still have Catalan speaking populations. This building was a community effort completed in a comparatively brief 55 years. As a result, the basilica is remarkably unified in style, classified as Catalan Gothic, for it eschews buttresses in favor of gigantic supporting pillars, and it is UNDER-ORNAMENTED, stripped of later Baroque additions in a fire set by revolutionaries during the Spanish Civil War. Remaining ornamentation emphasizes its maritime origins; a sculpture of an old trading ship on the altar and paintings of dockworkers on doors throughout. When it was being built, the Ribera was the site of many lovely mansions and trading wealth was at its peak. This area was populated by sailors and those associated with Mediterranean trade, just as the area to the north of it around Sant Pere church was dominated by merchants. Carrer Montcada, the site of the popular Picasso Museum, joined these two sections in the 14th century.
Its air of tranquility in the midst of the ever-bustling Ribera mesmerized us. Its mathematical precision (its three naves are separated exactly 43 feet from each other) creates sublime unity .Its central nave is just twice as wide as the side naves in this edifice that lacks a usual transept. Its 15th-century stained glass windows have been lovingly restored. As a bonus, its acoustics are superior and Santa Maria del Mar is often the scene of concerts. This is one site in Barcelona that you cannot accurately judge the worth of visiting by looking at its rather austere exterior, though its lovely 15th-century stained glass rose window just over its front door gives the viewer a hint of the beauty inside.
From journal Bittersweet Barcelona -- Treasures
January 28, 2003
From journal Offseason Barcelona