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Santa María del Mar Church built by ‘los bastaixos’

By | 13 February, 2017 | 0 comments

A visit to the Santa María del Mar Basilica shows visitors the great work of ‘los bastaixos’, a group of men who worked day and night in the port of Barcelona to build the church by transporting every single stone to the church that is known today as the alternative cathedral in Barcelona. ‘Los bastaixos’, along with the men from the Ribera neighbourhood and the fisherman are credited with developing the port of Barcelona and the importance of the sea on life in the city.

The Santa María del Mar Church was in fact built at the same time as the Cathedral of Barcelona but it is said that while the Cathedral de Santa Eulalia represents the bourgeoisie and the nobility, the Santa María del Mar Church is representative of strength, the people, humility and unity as many joined forces to build a church dedicated to the virgin of the fishermen.

During a period of 54 years, ‘los bastaixos’ transported enormous heavy rocks from the royal quarry in Montjüic through the port of Barcelona to the Plaza de Santa María. They worked all hours on a pitiful diet which consisted of bread, vegetables and wine mixed with water or honey. The church, designed by Berenguer de Montagut and Ramón Despuig represents the blood, sweat and tears of the workers as well as the history of the rise of a humble neighbourhood that soon prospered as a result of the business that came about from the Mediterranean sea and the port of Barcelona, a place where large ships could not enter and therefore ‘los bastaixos’ were also responsible for loading and unloading the ships’ cargo.

Santa María del Mar is famous for its presence and its form without a need for grand decoration, symbolic of the men that were responsible for its construction. A visit to the Santa María del Mar allows visitors to learn the history of ‘los bastaixos’, whose now legendary status has inspired famous novels such as ‘La Catedral del Mar’ (The Cathedral of the Sea) by Ildefonso Falcones. Above the main door of the basilica, there is a sculpture dedicated to the hard work of ‘los bastaixos’.

It is also important to note that mariners and ‘los bastaixos’ also sought shelter in the church that they built as it was financed by the brotherhood of the fishermen.

The Santa María del Mar Church is much-loved by the residents of Barcelona and it is essential for visitors to witness first-hand the history of the ‘people’s cathedral’ and the gothic architectural style.

Categories: barcelona

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