Things to do in Cadaqués – Visit the Church of Santa Maria

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The dominant feature of the Cadaqués skyline is the 16th century Church of Santa Maria (Iglesia de Santa María de Cadaqués). Perched on the highest point overlooking the village, this ‘new’ church in late-Gothic style was built with funding from local fishermen to replace the previous church destroyed during an attack, in 1543, led by pirate Khayr al-Dïn, aka Barbarossa

Church of Santa Maria Cadaques Spain

The off-white somewhat-fortress-like exterior features and octagonal bell tower and an austere façade with central bull’s eye window and twin lancet windows above the entrance. If the church is open, step inside for a look at the remarkable gilded woodwork.

The single-nave interior with several side chapels reflects, by contrast, a measure of the gilded flamboyance of the Baroque period.  Some of what you’ll see includes:

Altar Santa Maria Cadaqués Spain

El Retaule Major – dedicated to Our Lady of Hope, this almost over-the-top, intricately sculpted 18th-century altarpiece framing the rather simple stone High Altar is decorated with paintings of biblical scenes, gilded statues of angels and saints, and uniquely decorative pillars supported by atlantes depicted as brawny fishermen. (In order to see these details, be sure to drop a coin in the coin-op light switch.)

John the Baptist and Saint Joseph Church of Santa Maria Cadaques Spain

Retaule de Sant Joan Baptista i de Sant Josep – this late-17th century altar is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and Saint Joseph, and features statues of the saints, decorative columns, carvings of cherubs, reliefs depicting biblical scenes, and the coat of arms of Cadaqués;

Altarpiece to Saint Peter Church of Santa Maria Cadaques Spain

Retaule de Sant Pere – constructed in the mid-17th century, this altarpiece features several statues among which is the central figure of Sant Pere (Saint Peter); 

Altarpiece to Saint Sebastian Church of Santa Maria Cadaques Spain

Retaule de Sant Sebatià – this, one of the smallest of the altarpieces, dates to the late-17th century and is dedicated to Saint Sebastian (depicted at center impaled by arrows); 

Altarpiece of Our Lady of the Rosary Church of Santa Maria Cadaques Spain

Retaule de la Mare de Déu del Roser – the late-17th century work, dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, features gilded columns decorated with reliefs of cherubs, garlands, grape vines, and roses;

Altarpiece of Saint Anthony of Padua Church of Santa Maria Cadaques Spain 

Retaule de Sant Antoni de Pàdua – crafted in the early 18th century and dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua, this piece includes a number of statues, carved angels, and columns;

Altarpiece Isidore and Black Madonna Church of Santa Maria Cadaques Spain

Retaule de Sant Isidre i de la Mare de Déu de Montserrat – dedicated to Isidore, the patron saint of farmers (that’s him at the top of the altarpiece), and to Our Lady of Montserrat (she’s the Black Madonna at center), this more colorful altarpiece dates to the year 1718;

Altarpiece Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church of Santa Maria Cadaques Spain

and the Retaule de la Mare de Déu del Carme – this early 18th-century piece, another of the smaller works, is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel; a small wooden ship, a votive offering, hangs from the ceiling next to a uniquely designed light fixture.

In addition to these glimmering wooden altarpieces, you’ll also see:

Altarpiece of Saint Baudilus Church of Santa Maria Cadaques SpainThe more humble painted panels of the 16th-century Retaule de Sant Baldiri (Altarpiece of Saint Baudelius), which stands next to a sculpture of Saint George slaying the dragon;

Stations of the Cross Relief Church of Santa Maria Cadaques Spain

Several painted reliefs depicting the Stations of the Cross;

Carved Wooden Pew City Coat of Arms Church of Santa Maria Cadaques Spain

Beautifully carved wooden pews;

Painting of Divine Shepherdess Church of Santa Maria Cadaques Spain

A number of paintings, including a depiction of the Divine Shepherdess, a Dali-esque painting of Madonna de la Speranza, and a few Byzantine-style icons;

Golden Tabernacle Church of Santa Maria Cadaques Spain

an ornate golden tabernacle set into a niche in the wall;

Pipe Organ Church of Santa Maria Cadaques Spain

and a 17th-century pipe organ – one of the oldest in Catalonia – which sits on a cantilevered platform on the side wall,

Stained Glass and Statue of Mary Church of Santa Maria Cadaques Spain

rather than on the gallery above the main entrance (where you’ll see instead a statue of the Virgin Mary framed by the stained glass windows).

Getting there:

The Church of Saint Mary is located at the intersection of Carrer Portal de Mont, Career Eliseu Miefren, and Carrer Bellaire. Look for the ‘signs’ painted on the buildings; they’ll point you in the right direction.

Ticket info:

Free

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