Santa Maria del Remei

Santa Maria del RemeiEsglésia de Santa Maria del Remei
Built: 1850-1880
Founded: 1836
Function: Parish church
Address: Plaça de la Concòrdia 1

As I have written about previously, Barcelona’s enormous growth spurt in the 19th century with the onset of industrialization (and the related tidal wave of immigrants) and the tearing down of the old city walls led to the establishment of numerous new communities throughout the city. The area of Sants and Les Corts, usually referred to collectively, is one such example. The Feast of Our Lady of Good Remedy (or “Remei” in Catalan) falls on October 7th, and was popularly celebrated by locals in the open areas that subsequently became the neighborhood of Sants-Les Corts, as Barcelona was built up as a result of these economic and social changes .

The first documented recounting of these local festivals dedicated to Our Lady dates from around 1800, although given that this ancient celebration of this Trinitarian Order feast comes from the Middle Ages, it is very likely that her feast day was being celebrated considerably before the 19th century. It was only natural, in any case, that Santa Maria de Remei would be chosen as the patroness of the first church to be built on the site of the festival grounds. The first structure was given the status of a mission church, however with the rapid growth in population in this part of the city, the mission was raised to the level of an independent parish in 1850, and the need for a proper church building became readily apparent.

Construction on the present building, after a number of stops and starts, was finally completed in 1880, although the iconic bell tower of the church was only completed in 1894. The church is the work of the important Catalan architect Josep Oriol Mestres i Esplugas who, among other structures, built the city’s famous Liceu Opera House – both in its original incarnation in 1848, and rebuilding it after it burned down in 1861 – and was the master architect in charge of the construction of the facade of Barcelona Cathedral. As a result, his involvement in the Neo-Romanesque church project was a highly prestigious one for the parishioners in Les Corts.

Unfortunately, at about the time that the church was finally completed, Les Corts lost its status as an independent municipality (against the will of its inhabitants), and became just another neighborhood in the city of Barcelona. For the first part of its existence however, this church was technically a country parish. The church was burnt by the Leftists in 1936 at the outset of the Spanish Civil War, and much of it had to be rebuilt, but today the square on which it stands is a favorite restaurant and cafe spot in the city.

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