Not to be confused with Santa Maria del Mar, this 14th-century church is known as the Saint Mary of the Pine owing to its location on Plaça del Pi where a pine tree has stood since the 16th century (although this particular tree was planted in 1985). Another example of Catalan Gothic architecture, Santa Maria del Pi is easily recognised from afar thanks to its octagonal bell tower, which stands some 54 meters high. Close up, be sure to admire the rose window at the entrance – destroyed in 1936 when anarchists attempted to destroy the church, it was faithfully restored in 1940.
Most commonly referred to simply as the Sagrat Cor, or Sacred Heart, this relatively modern church was constructed between 1902 and 1906. It has the unique advantage of being visible from nearly every corner of Barcelona as it stands at the top of the Tibidabo Mountain on the edge of the city. A Roman Catholic church, its construction was prompted by rumours that a Protestant church was going to be built there instead. Another remarkable feature of the church is its blend of architectural styles, from a Baroque entrance to a neo-Byzantine crypt and a neo-Gothic church exterior.
Something of a hidden gem, the church of Santa Anna of Barcelona is an often overlooked church tucked away in the city centre, not far from Plaça Catalunya. And yet Santa Anna of Barcelona has been around since much longer than many of the buildings that surround it today, as it was founded in 1141. Aside from its early 14th-century façade, one of the most remarkable features of the church is its 15th-century cloister, which contains a beautiful interior courtyard brimming with plants and trees.
While there’s undoubtedly reason to admire the design of this baroque-style church, unfortunately the main reason that the church of San Felip Neri is so remarkable is a lot more sombre. During the Spanish Civil War, the church – and much of the surrounding area, including the adjacent Sant Felip Neri school – came under heavy bombardment by Franco’s forces. Some 42 people died that day, most of them schoolchildren who had taken refuge in the church. Rather than repair the damage, the church authorities decided to leave the church façade as it was, serving as a lasting reminder of the suffering endured that day.