Barcelona, Barrio Gotico

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Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi

La Rambla & Barri Gòtic

Begun in 1320, on the site of a 10th-century Romanesque church, this striking 14th-century basilica is a classic of Catalan Gothic, with an imposing facade, a wide interior and a single nave. The simple decor in the main sanctuary contrasts with the gilded chapels and exquisite stained-glass windows that bathe the interior in ethereal light. The beautiful rose window – a brilliant 20th-century replica of the original – above the entrance is one of the world’s largest.

According to legend, a 10th-century fisher discovered an image of the Virgin Mary in a pi (pine tree) that he was intent on cutting down to build a boat; struck by the vision, he instead built a little chapel, later to be succeeded by this Gothic church. A pine still grows in the square outside. The fourth chapel on the left is dedicated to the Mare de Déu de Montserrat, while the sixth chapel on the left honours Sant Josep Oriol, who was parish priest from 1687 to 1702 (and was canonised in 1909).

Guided tours (€9), including the bell towers, run from Monday to Friday at noon, 1pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm and on Saturdays and Sundays at noon, 3.30pm, 4.30pm and 5.30pm. Occasional concerts are staged in the basilica and a couple of resident cats roam the garden.

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