What to visit / Themed routes / Women of Ciutat Vella walk / Virgin of la Mercè / Basílica de la Mercè
  • Basilica of la Mercè

Basílica de la Mercè

The current Basílica de la Mercè, in baroque style, is the work of the architect Joan Mas Dordal, who was inspired by the counter-reformist models of the time. It has a single nave that opens out at the sides, with a series of chapels between the buttresses. The nave is crowned by four sections of vaults and a dome. The dome was constructed in 1888, by Joan Martorell, after the canonical coronation of the Mare de Déu de la Mercè (the Virgin of Mercy), co-patron saint of Barcelona. The main altar was designed by the Valencian architect Vicente Marro. On the façade there are ornamentations by the sculptor Carles Grau set between sturdy Corinthian columns surmounted by a tympanum.

The work began in 1765 and took ten years to complete. But the history of this basilica begins much earlier. In 1218, the alleged apparition of the Virgin Mary prompted the creation of the Order of our Lady of Mercy, which originally had a Gothic style temple on the same site. The medieval church was demolished, and on April 25, 1765 the first stone of the current one was laid. In 1775, the image of the Mare de Déu de la Mercè was moved from the Cathedral to its new home. The temple was consecrated on September 9 that same year.

Barcelona City Hall in Plaça Sant Jaume was extended in 1870 and the project entailed the demolition of the church of Sant Miquel. The 15th-century flamboyant-Gothic façade was preserved and moved, stone by stone, to the side of the current basilica, on the corner of Carrer Ample. Since that time, the church has been known as the parish church of Sant Miquel i la Mare de Déu de la Mercè.

In 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, the basilica was severely damaged, and the decorative elements were restored in 1939, including a new image of the Virgin.Inside, however, there remains an image of the Virgin from the mid-fourteenth century, attributed to Pere Moragues.

A place that invites contemplation and the enjoyment of the best music with a programme of concerts performed by different formations. The basilica also hosts recitals featuring the grand organ, which weighs 12 tonnes and has 3,000 pipes.

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