Santa Maria del Mar
Photo: marimbajlamesa on Flickr
Gorgeous Gothic church that inspired Gaudí
Talk of the town: The interior of the church was burnt out by anarchists during the Spanish Civil War. Although since restored by Bauhaus-trained architects, you may still spot some fire damage.
The 14th-century Santa Maria del Mar, or the 'cathedral of La Ribera', is a hidden jewel in Barcelona. Most churches of the time often took more than 100 years to build, but this cathedral took only 55, allowing it to stay true to its intended style. The church is now considered to be the finest and only surviving example of pure Catalan Gothic architecture, with a striking harmony of proportions.
The building, next to the Ramblas del Born, was erected to commemorate the Catalan conquest of Sardinia, and was where ship builders and merchants worshiped. The interior of the church is nothing short of stunning; its most remarkable features are its soaring ceilings and the intricate stained glass windows of the Ascension and the Lavabo in the chapel of Sant Rafael.
Before you leave, check out the small sculptures on the main door, which depict the neighbourhood porters who helped transport the building materials for the church.