In the surroundings of the lovely neighborhood of El Born in the center of Barcelona, there is one of the most beautiful churches in the city, the so-called Santa María del Mar church. This lovely building of Catalan Gothic style dates back to 998 (that's right, 998) and is the work of the architect Berenguer de Montagut, who built it at the time of the Catalan expansionist splendor.
The inside spaces are fantastic with windows of incredible beauty, a real visual experience. The imposing columns decorate the incredible empty spaces formed by the roof, a real masterwork. In the facades one notices definitely Gothic details and the light inside is quite special.
One of the most incredible characteristics is the inside's acoustics. Listening to a choir or any concert is a wonder for your ears. Weddings are often organized and the streets get full of guests and onlookers. Inside it is allowed to take pictures and the only fact of being there is something beyond the spiritual aspect.
The Montserrat Mountain is a unique setting for its enclave, its silhouette, and its monastery. It can be reached by road or by taking the funicular. From above the monastery, there are different paths you can take that surround the mountain so you can discover wonderful places. One specifically is "Via Crucis", which will take you to a small chapel where the Virgin was supposedly discovered.
Turning your back on the sea, you can see this monument in the mountain. Its dimensions are not extraordinary but its location turns it into one of the most visible monuments of Barcelona.
One of the most beautiful sights of Barcelona at night is the illuminated Temple, its clear and dazzling silhouette illuminates the dark nights of the city. The mountain where it is located belongs to the Sierra de Collserola, green lung of the province and protected park for forgetting about stress.
In order to go to the temple in public transportation there are different options but the cheapest and most comfortable one is to take bus T2A in Plaza Catalunya (in front of the Caja Madrid building) or T2B in the Vall d'Hebrón. They are shuttle buses leaving you just next to the Temple or the attraction park next to it. It costs 2.80€ and takes half an hour. It leaves every 20 minutes approximately, dropping you off at a square and you just have to walk about five minutes down a pedestrian street located on a light slope.
Now that you know how to get there I'll talk about what and how you can visit the Temple. We have to climb stairs, and the interior is quite small, even though the place is well structured and seriously taken care of: murals decorate the walls and chapels, but what I like most is the lovely reliefs on the inside walls of the temple, where various scenes related to Jesus' life and death are represented.
In the area outside you can go to the viewpoint going up the exterior stairs, but if you prefer going even higher you have to get the lift (2€). You can find it inside the Temple, in the back on your left, or from outside as I mentioned before. The ticket is purchased inside the lift. At these heights (541 meters above sea level) the views of Barcelona and its surroundings are fabulous. If it is clear enough, you can even see the Montserrat mountain.
But if you want to be even higher and at the feet of Christ, you will have to climb the snail stairs. You should not forget to visit the Crypt and the Hermitage. The latter is located outside the Temple and looks as if it was added later, but it is actually the opposite. The small hermitage was built first, at the end of the 1800s, humble and of reduced sizes. Nowadays, there are two pictures inside of the time when it was built, something very strange to see since it doesn't have anything to do with the current appearance. It is on the right side of the temple and there is a glass entrance to protect the interior.
In summary, it is a lovely place to visit where you can admire the splendor of Barcelona, the sea, the mountain, the city...
To visit the shrine of the Virgin of Montserrat, is to enter a place of incredible devotion. As patroness of Catalonia, the Black Madonna is more than an image and a symbol that transcends the purely spiritual. The basilica is beautiful, newly reconstructed, as the original was nearly completely destroyed during the Napoleonic Wars. It consists of a single nave with dark intimate side chapels. Behind the altar "the moreneta" (colloquial name for the Virgin of Montserrat because of its black color) is found. There is a side access, a deep hallway that leads to the sacristy and narrow stairs that lead up to the image of the Virgin, where the faithful and the not so faithful look up, kissing, touching, praying and most to photograph the figure of the Virgin. I liked being in the basilica with its beautiful style and a collection of lamps, which haunt me. It is funny, whenever I visit, my main interest are these incredible lamps of all styles, which form a harmonious whole. This place is full of emotion with devotees kneeling down to pray and to ask and with nationalists who worship in this Virgin their "lost homeland". It is funny what this picture represents, the importance of the veneration which is Catalonia. In a way, it reminds me of when I visited the Pillar of Zaragoza, where religious devotion is mixed with the Hispanic homeland exaltation. A curious and beautiful place. The entire monastery of Montserrat is beautiful, for its art, its history and its landscape.
The strategic location of this church has become one of the most recognized icons in Sitges. A picturesque coastal image at the end of the promenade and on top of the bastion, after climbing the steps to admire the sea before going to visit the Church. Its structure is peculiar with its two bell towers one of them with a clock that people used to tell the time. Its facade is quite simple but the frame where it is located is unparalleled.
Located in Ferrán street, number 28, Sant Jaume church is difficult to spot because the street is full of shops, hotels, bars, pubs, restaurants, and you barely notice the small facade of the church. To get there go to metro station Liceu (line 3).
The church preserves its old 16th century facade, but the rest, the inside and the bell tower, were reformed in the 18th century. In general, at least once a week, there is a concert inside the church, sometimes classical music, or a guitar player, or an organist, etc. They are always unique and present a good way to appreciate the place in a different light.
The neighborhood is the old Jewish one. And the church was actually built upon the remains of the old synagogue. When the Ferrán street was built to enlarge the way to the town hall, there was not much left of the Jewish community anymore and the building of the church became necessary.
This church is located in the old part of Barcelona (Gothic Quarter), at an intersection at the end of Las Ramblas in Plaza de la Mercé. In this square, there is another building that used to be a convent and is now the Capitanía General (a military building). At the doors of the basilica, there is a decorating stone fountain with the image of Neptune.
It is from the 18th century, of Baroque style and its dome is crowned with the image of the Mercé. In the interior a spectacular Baroque altarpiece, all golden, housing the image of the Mercé, the patron saint of Barcelona. It has many lateral chapels with various altarpieces.
I love going out in mega-touristic Barcelona, wandering around and discovering the virtually unknown, almost virgin, areas of the city. This is what happened when I stumbled upon the Sant Pacia church, which is located in the traditional Sant Andreu del Palomar neighborhood.
San Andreu del Palomar used to be another one of the “pueblos” surrounding central Barcelona, but it was pretty much absorbed by the vibrant city and is now a perfectly integrated neighborhood. Due to its “unknown” feeling, San Andreu has managed to conserve its beauty and quaintness of its simple houses and narrow streets. The neighborhood actually looks a lot like the Gracia neighborhood.
There’s another secret gem hidden within the traditional neighborhood. The 19th century neo-gothic church designed by architect Joan Torras I Guadiola has a splendid Gaudí-designed mosaic inside. The one-aisle long church is very beautiful. From the outside, the different levels between the bell tower and rest of the building are quite striking. It’s located on a small street which is also striking because, although it occupies a good amount of space, it is still remains hidden, like it’s being guarded so no one discovers it and tries changes it. Once on the inside, Gaudi’s stunning Greco-Roman mosaic is what stands out. At this church we get to see the work of the mystic and religious Gaudí, instead of the bourgeoisie Gaudí. The mosaic covers the church’s entire floor, full of symbolic biblical references. Aside from the mosaic, Gaudí also designed the lamps, the altar and some furniture (although it’s not currently in the church). Visiting Sant Pacia is a necessity for the true Gaudí admirers.
I love parking my car and just walking around this traditional neighborhood, discovering Gaudí’s other hidden jewels in Barcelona. I recommend coming by metro, Renfre (train), or bus, seeing as it’s fairly complicated to maneuver a car in this neighborhood as the majority of the streets are for pedestrians only ;-) I love it! After seeing the church, I’d recommend you walk around the historic center of Sant Andreu where you’ll find several pleasant surprises.
Consult the schedule of masses and make appointments for visiting, as the church isn’t always open to the public. The church is included on Barcelona’s modernist tour route.