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The Basilica of La Mercé

The Basilica of La Mercé (33)

History and legend come together in the Basilica of La Mercè, patron saint of Barcelona. It is easy to find at the bottom of the Rambles. Just turn down the last street on the left, before you reach the Columbus statue. Carrer d’Anselm Clavé will take you directly to the Plaça de la Mercè.

At the far side of the square you will see the façade of what was the old Convent of La Mercè and today is the Capitania General. On the side opposite the Basilica there is a monumental fountain dedicated to Neptune. 

According to tradition, in 1218 the virgin appeared to Pere Nolasc and inspired him to create a monastic order dedicated to the numerous captive Christians who fell in the hands of the north African pirates who sailed the seas at that time. And so that is how the Order of La Mercè began. 

The first church of the new order was built in the 13th century to a gothic design. Five centuries later it was rebuilt in the late Baroque style, with the only curved façade in Barcelona. The façade that you can see today is Renaissance style. 

Inside the single-naved basilica there is an original Gothic carving of the Virgin Mary by Pere Moragues.

But the legend doesn’t end there. It is said that in 1637 the Virgin of La Mercè freed the city of a plague of locusts and in gratitude the City’s Council decided to name her patron of the Barcelona.

The festival of Barcelona is still held in her honour every year on 24 September. 

And whenever Barça wins a trophy, its players go to the basilica to offer it to the Virgin of La Mercè, in an act of mass thanks. This tradition which the people of Barcelona like to maintain, is really exciting.

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