Holy Mary by the Sea

The beautiful 14th century gothic church of Santa Maria del Mar, in Barcelona, Spain, is neither the cathedral church of this great city, nor its most famous basilica, but if it had been built in a city with less competition for those honours, I think it is easily good enough to have been both.

Hemmed in by narrow streets and tapas bars, it has a very simple interior design.  No transept, but a tall nave with clerestory windows the length of the church over the two side aisles give it a very open feel, full of light.  It also has extraordinarily narrow columns supporting the stone vaulting, resulting in a most elegant ambulatory (the curved area at the east end that goes round behind the altar).

The central nave and two side aisles of Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona

The central nave and two side aisles of Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona

The altar of Santa Maria del Mar, showing the two levels of clerestory windows round the ambulatory

The altar of Santa Maria del Mar, showing the two levels of clerestory windows round the ambulatory

The tall and very elegant narrow-columned ambulatory of Santa Maria del Mar

The tall and very elegant narrow-columned ambulatory of Santa Maria del Mar

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