Sta. Maria

    St. Mary's Church

Map of St. Mary's and surroundings. Click to enlarge.

Situation.

To reach this church you can go from the Mercadal Square across St. Maria street or acros the Wall, trough the footbridge in the "Portal del Gel" (Ice's Gate) and across Carrer Major (High Street) by St. Maria stairs.

By bus you can reach there across "cami dels Erals" (Erals' road), joining Castello road with the "Firal" district. You can visit it on saturdays and sundays.

The works started in the 1.351, impeled by countess Cecilia de Comenge, Jaume I count of Urgell count's widow, over the place of the old "St. Miquel" (St. Michael) church.

The church was consecrated 24 of February of 1.558 and in 1.575 became the Balaguer parish.
The long construction time explains its lack of continuity in the purity of the initial Gothic style. Although this, its large dimensions grant it an evident monumental character.

This church was known because it the meeting place of Jaume d'Urgell el Dissortat (James of Urgel the Unhappy) with all his supporters, in the famous siege imposed by Fernando of Antequera (1.413). throughout the centuries has suffered several restorations.

In the east facade there is a great gate with two windows in complete symmetry  with respect to the north facade. The tower of the belfry, of 37 m., it is of a octagonal plant and has three floors.

In the south facade, there is a simpler gate, and has a capital to each side. Two healthy buttresses hold the facade: the left one has been thoroughly reformed and is known popularly as "Campanar dels Moros" (Belfry of the Moors). A snail staircase permit to arrive to the terrace on the fourth floor of the small belfry.

The west facade, faces to the cemetery, has four buttresses. The door is in an inferior level and presents three arcades, without any ornamentation.

The north facade, where is the apsis, is supported by six buttresses not so healthy as those of the principal (south) facade. They alternate with five windows with noted arches. Leant to him is the sacristy, of Mudejar style, finished in the XVIth century.

The approximate measures of the interior of the shrine are about 62 meters of length, 25 meters of width and aobut 25 of height. The church is of a single naves, (one of the largest of Catalonia) split into three equal sections and an apsis of seven wall linens, all covered with dashed ogival domes, supported through the toral arches on columns leant to the three sections. Ten windows give light to the church: five are located in the apsis and five, larger, are in the sides (two in each side) and in  the frontal part (south facade)  of the shrine.

The shrine has a great number of chapels, devoted to the holy protectros. The majority have a rosette with saint or heraldic or weapons images. They are located in the spaces between the buttresses of the church cover all they with intersecting ribs domes. Currently they are decorated with reproductions, copies, and original works of Catalan painting (Permanent Exposition Art at St. Mary's).

From St. María's church we can enjoy a magnificent panoramic, that permits us to see most of the city, the walls, the Urgel Plains and the Pre-Pyreneeic Mountains.

Don't leave without visiting the Ancient Neighborhood, with the porched streets and the Mercadal Square, the larger medieval square in Catalonia.

Don't leave without trying out the pastry cooking from Balaguer.

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Church of "Sta. Maria" (St. Mary). Art at St. Mary's. Walls and Gates.
Ancient Neighborhood. "Mercadal" (Market) Square. Jewish Neighborhood.
"Castell Formós" ( Beautiful Castle). Sanctuary of the "Sant Crist" (Holy Christ).
Convent of  "Sant Domènec" (St. Dominic). "Davant Balaguer" ( Modern Neighborhood).

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