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Basilica of Sants Màrtirs Sant Just i Pastor

Tradition has it that this is Barcelona's oldest church. Whether this is true or not, it is clear that this 14th-century building stands in one of the Gothic Quarter's most charming and least explored spots. Another example of the splendour of the city in the medieval era.

In 801, King Louis the Pious spearheaded the reconstruction of Barcelona after the Frankish reconquest. This is when a church dedicated to the saints Just and Pastor was founded in the heart of the city. Nothing remains of that Romanesque church and a Gothic-style building dating from 1342 stands in its place. Tucked away in a corner of the captivating little square, the Placeta de Sant Just, in the centre of the Palau district, which was the place where the nobility lived at the time, the building is surprisingly austere.

On one side, the 15th-century octagonal tower lends height to the ensemble. When you step inside and walk up the distinctive spiral staircase to the top of the bell tower, you will enjoy some of the best views of the surrounding area. The façade, which was restored in the neo-Gothic style, leads into a peaceful and charming interior. It is perhaps the simplicity of the structure, comprising a single nave and polygonal apse, that explains the beauty of this church. It is closed off by a cross vault featuring keystones depicting the life of the Virgin.

The altar is decorated with four large sculptures by the Vallmitjana brothers. They represent the four evangelists. An image of Our Lady of Montserrat, the patron saint of Catalonia, stands above the altar. The chapel of Sant Feliu i la Santa Creu contains a 16th-century altarpiece depicting the Passion, which competes with the 19th-century, neoclassical main altarpiece. The stained glass in the upper windows bathes the interior of the church with colour. Outside in the square there is a final surprise is in store: the Fivaller fountain, one of the few surviving Gothic fountains in the city.

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