There is a church in Barcelona. Well, there are quite a few, but for now I wanted to talk about one of them. Santa María del Mar. A huge, beautiful one, hidden right in the middle of the labyrinth of all the narrow streets of a part of the old town called “El Born”.
|Tucked in between all these narrow streets, so that suddenly it’s right in front of you without much warning.|
I personally love this area, I think it’s my favourite part of the old town. It’s charming, it’s beautiful, and oh so trendy with many art boutiques, café’s, restaurants and bars.
But I am getting sidetracked here, I can talk about El Born some other time. I was going to talk about this Church, Santa María del Mar.
Cause in 2006, Ildefonso Falcones published a book called la Catedral del Mar, Cathedral of the Sea, a historic novel set in Barcelona in the 14'th century. The story is set around the building of Santa María del Mar and although at this point there’s no chance to see the sea from there from the masses of buildings, back in the day you could, as it’s less than one km away from the Mediterranean, thereof the name.
I read it a while back and it kind of swallowed me a little, it was wonderful, almost magical, to read the story set in old old Barcelona, while being able to go out and walk around in those old streets and places described in the story. And entering the Cathedral, and realizing what a masterpiece it really is actually having some background information.
In my time in Spain I have already seen several opulent cathedrals and coming from Norway with our wooden or stone churches with very little thought put into the “interior design”, these Spanish Cathedrals really are something else.
Still, I am somehow more impressed by this one. It’s simpler, not so dramatically decorated, it doesn’t have gold everywhere, it’s just plain and simply beautiful, and knowing that it was built alt those years ago only with the human physical strength, and that the Basitaixos* carried the stones on their backs all the way from Montjüic… well it just gives the cathedral more life and soul for me.
|Santa María, the patron saint of the cathedral|
There is no entrance fee, which I think is great (and surprising), considering the increased popularity this church has received after the book became an international best seller.
The first time I entered, I came in the middle of a wedding ceremony, can you imagine?
As for the book, I loved it, the story is good, strong and sad. There's quite a lot of history in this book that got a little boring at times, too many kings and too many battles for my taste, but the main story is great.
Have you ever read a historical novel, and been able to trace the steps of the main
characters? Or have you read this one?
*Bastaixos: those who built the cathedral, and carried the stones on their backs, voluntarily and without getting paid.