The 18th century Baroque-style Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Mercy (Basilica de la Mercé) is one of Barcelona’s lesser-known historical sights. Constructed on the site of several earlier churches—the oldest of which was a 13th-century Gothic structure dedicated to the city’s patron—the church is regarded as the Motherhouse of the medieval Order of Mercy. The current building, severely damaged by fire during the Spanish Civil War, has been beautifully restored, and is an interesting stop on your walk through the Gothic Quarter.
The Basilica’s rather simple exterior features a few decorative elements, such as:
The oeil-de-boeuf window above the main entrance; a 14th-century octagonal bell tower; a mid-20th-century statue of Our Lady of Mercy, a replacement for the 19th-century statue that was melted down during the Spanish Civil War;
and, at the side entrance, a beautifully sculpted 16th-century Renaissance portal salvaged from the much older Church of Saint Michael, which stood in Plaça de Sant Miguel and was demolished in the 19th century.
If the church is open, step inside. The impressive interior, with its single nave flanked by side chapels, reflects the gilded opulence of the Baroque period. Here you’ll see:
Painted ceilings, including the frescoed dome and arches by local artist José Obiols Palau;
Ornate ironwork, such as the decorative gates of the side chapels and baptistry;
Twin pulpits, designed by architect Ramón Capella, and constructed of marble and metal;
And numerous altars decorated with flourishing reliefs, Corinthian columns, and an abundance of statues. Among these are:
Our Lady of Montserrat;
Saint Raymond, Saint Honoratus, and Saint Joseph Oriol;
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of the Abandoned, and Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus;
Saint Anthony of Padua, Saint Joseph, and Saint Anthony the Abbot;
Saint Peter, Saint Michael, and Saint Paul;
Our Lady of Hope;
and Saint Mary de Cervellione.
Among the most noteworthy artifacts and sacred relics housed in the basilica are:
The entombed remains of Saint Mary de Cervellione, and, what is believed to be the original 14th-century statue of Our Lady of Mercy, both of which were reportedly spared the ravages of the war when they were hidden away for safe keeping in a storage closet.