Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Barcelona by the sea

For all the sights and attractions in the city centre of Barcelona (one of the first things I saw was a gleaming display, all black glass and steel, enticing the tourist in to the Jamon Experience - I passed), you can't escape the sea. As well as a huge trading port and several marinas, and what with the 1992 Olympics and such-like, it has miles and miles of beaches within a few minutes walk of the centre, or at least, bus and metro stops, which become packed with people as the working day ends.

So with so much of the city's prosperity depending on the different uses of the sea over the centuries,  it's no surprise that one of its biggest old churches is Santa Maria del Mar. It's dominated by soaring gothic columns, relatively austere with the usual Spanish baroquery confined to side chapels, and just a few painted ceiling bosses, some striking stained glass and the (relatively discreetly placed) votive candles to add a bit of colour.

And it also has a maritime museum. There are some video animations to tell you the stories of various developments in sea transport, illustrating the models and artefacts on display, and a fair range of different types of boat, but apart from the replica of the admiral's galley from the Battle of Lepanto, and this modern replica of a real nineteenth-century attempt at a submarine (apparently it did work), it's a little underwhelming.

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