Visit Basilica Santa Maria del Mar – Skip Sagrada Familia

Basilica Santa Maria del Mar in La Ribera district - Barcelona Catalonia Spain

Basilica Santa Maria del Mar in La Ribera district – Barcelona

 

While in Barcelona I had time to visit both the Basilica Santa Maria del Mar (Church of Saint Maria of the Sea) and Gaudi’s more famous Sagrada Familia. If you haven’t much time in Barcelona I advise visiting the former and skipping the latter.

Skip Sagragda Familia?!?

Yes, if you have only a few days in Barcelona and especially if you have limited funds – I paid 23.80 euros for the ticket, audio guide, and tower visit. Basilica Santa Maria del Mar was FREE!

 

Colorful Stained Glass windows at Basilica Santa Maria del Mar

Stained Glass at Basilica Santa Maria del Mar

 

If you happen to be Catholic and an aficionado of architecture then you will enjoy both Sagrada Familia and the Basilica Santa Maria del Mar but it’s a whole lot easier, and cheaper, to visit Santa Maria del Mar. I visited the church twice and admission was free both times.

 

Detail of Doors at Basilica Santa Maria del Mar in La Ribera district near El Born Barcelona Catalonia Spain

Detail of Doors at Basilica Santa Maria del Mar in La Ribera district of Barcelona

 

I enjoyed my visits to Santa Maria del Mar more than my visit to Sagrada Familia primarily due to all the hype surrounding Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. I was expecting spectacular. It was impressive but I doubt I would bother to visit again.

Casa Batllo I would visit again. Park Guell yes. But not Sagrada Familia – too much hassle with such large crowds visiting every day and I just wasn’t all that impressed.

 

Stained glass detail at Basilica Santa Maria del Mar in La Ribera district near trendy El Born Barcelona

Stained glass detail at Basilica Santa Maria del Mar (Church of Santa Maria by the Sea)

 

I had read that the Basilica Santa Maria del Mar was not much to look at on the exterior but was quite attractive inside. The church is located at Plaza de Santa Maria, 1  in La Ribera (near El Born) district.

It was a short walk from my apartment on Via Laietana and once inside I walked around the interior admiring both the architecture and the numerous stained glass windows.

 

Stained glass detail at Basilica Santa Maria del Mar in La Ribera district near trendy El Born Barcelona

Basilica Santa Maria del Mar – stained glass detail

 

The church was built from 1329 – 1383 and represents the Catalan Gothic architectural style. The building has not been refurbished or rebuilt – it is all the original structure.

 

Interior of Basilica Santa Maria del Mar - classic Catalan Gothic architecture in Barcelona

Interior of Basilica Santa Maria del Mar – classic Catalan Gothic architecture

 

The church is a wonderful photographic subject with all the stained glass and the tall columns.

 

Basilica Santa Maria del Mar vibrant stained glass windows in La Ribera district near El Born Barcelona

Basilica Santa Maria del Mar stained glass windows

 

On my first visit I was tossed out of the church around noon – not just me everyone else was too! I didn’t get the details at the time but it seems one can pay for a tour of the church and even go to the rooftop to enjoy a grand view of Barcelona.

I haven’t found out what the tour fee is or how one might arrange to attend a tour. Evidently we were ejected from the church so the tour could commence.

 

Basilica Santa Maria del Mar - stained glass in detail - La Ribera Cathedral Barcelona

Basilica Santa Maria del Mar – stained glass in detail

 

So keep in mind if you are in Barcelona I recommend a visit to Basilica Santa Maria del Mar instead of Sagrada Familia if you have just a couple of days to visit the city. If you have more time visit both but plan ahead for Sagrada Familia.

If you’re short on funds then Basilica Santa Maris del Mar is the cathedral to see and there’s plenty to see in La Ribera neighborhood. Enjoy!

 

Visitor info Basilica Santa Maria del Mar

Address

Plaça de Santa Maria, 1, 08003 Barcelona

Hours for free visit to Santa Maria del Mar

Free entry (to the nave only) days/times:

Monday through Saturday 9:30 am to 1 pm and 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Sunday 10:00 am – 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 4 of living a nomadic life, roadtripping around the USA and Canada and writing about her experiences. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

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