March 31, 2013

Visiting El Born and Santa Maria del Mar

One last post from Spain... When I travel, I am often reminded how fortunate I have been to be able to visit so many different places around the world. One of those moments was visiting the church of Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona. This church is very old. Construction on it began in 1329 AD; however, mentions of a Santa Maria del Mar in this area date back to 998 AD. Located in the El Born district of the city, this church stands tall next to the medieval buildings that line the streets.

Santa Maria del Mar

We came upon Santa Maria del Mar on our last day in Spain, at the end of a fantastic road trip. Inside the church was illuminated only by light coming through the stained glass windows and the many candles people had lit. There was a calm hush to the atmosphere. I am not a religious person, but there is something about the tranquil mood in this ancient church that I found very comforting. Jonathan went to light a candle and I sat down and gave thanks for having the opportunity to visit Spain, this city, and this church. And I hoped to have the privilege to return someday.

After visiting the church, we spent the afternoon meandering the narrow, crocked streets in the remainder of the El Born and Barrio Gothic districts of the city. These neighborhoods were definitely my favorite parts of Barcelona. They were away from the traffic and wide boulevards of l'Eixample and the other more hectic areas of the city. And even with signs of the modern world slipping in here and there - a parked scooter, a bathroom design store (selling flush toilets and other bathroom items) - walking through this area really feels like stepping back in time.

A narrow street in El Born.

El Barrio Gothic and El Born districts are wonderful places to spend an entire day - walking around; visiting the small shops; and taking the time to stop for a cafe, glass or wine, or a snack. Exploring these neighborhoods was a perfect last day in Barcelona!

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