Data collection of Catholic parish churches of Barcelona

Published: 19 September 2023| Version 3 | DOI: 10.17632/2jvhcg972t.3


Churches represent distinctive architectural landmarks present in towns and cities adhering to Western Catholic traditions. Notable examples include Milan's Duomo, Paris's Cathédrale Notre-Dame, and Barcelona's La Sagrada Família. The spotlight of this study is directed at Barcelona, where the architectural floor plans of 132 Catholic parish churches are examined collectively for the first time. Fig 01. The objective of this data collection is to underscore the unique architectural attributes defining these 132 individual structures. Through comprehensive archival research and site visits, the floor plans are meticulously drafted using AutoCAD and Photoshop software, allowing for direct comparisons at a uniform scale. The churches are categorized based on their architectural features: 1) those with a directional spatial layout (encompassing subsets like single nave, single nave with chapels, two naves, three naves, three naves with chapels, and five naves -including basilica and Latin cross designs-); 2) churches featuring an expansive spatial design (including subdivisions like single nave, three naves, and Greek cross layouts); and 3) churches with a radial spatial configuration. Fig. 02 The findings reveal the prominence of churches with directional spatial designs (96 out of 132), spanning from uncomplicated single-nave arrangements to more intricate configurations with two, three, or five naves, often with additional side chapels. Predominant among these is the single-nave church style, mainly originating from the 20th century, with the exception of Sant Pacià (1876-81). Notably, there are numerous single-nave churches with side chapels, among which only Sant Cristòfol (2000) stands as a recent construction, and three-nave churches, with Santa Cecília (1963) being the only representative from the post-conciliar period. Furthermore, a single church with five naves, the ongoing Sagrada Família basilica (under construction since 1882), and one church with two naves, Sant Llorenç (1954-1963), are also evident. Regarding expansive churches, the category encompasses older examples following a Greek cross layout, alongside more recent counterparts adopting rectangular geometries. Despite their lower numbers and floor plan diversity, the latter exhibit a wider array of section arrangements compared to directional churches. Additionally, a grouping of fourteen parish churches adheres to a radial arrangement, spanning from diagonally distributed squares to rectangles divided into triangular geometries, all well-suited for urban integration. Beyond these various classifications, the data collection methodology serves as a model applicable to investigations of diverse structures in different cities, extending beyond their religious or non-religious character.


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Methodologically, a comprehensive survey of the 132 active parish churches within Barcelona's municipal boundaries was conducted. Thorough examination of architectural elements, plans, and urban contexts for each church was undertaken through on-site visits, involving hand-rendered sketches and current photographs, and exhaustive research across various archives in Barcelona. This assortment of previously undisclosed and scholarly data could serve as a foundational resource for prospective investigations. The sources consulted encompassed entities like the Diocesan Archive of the Archdiocese of Barcelona, Barcelona Municipal Archives, Historical Archive of Barcelona, Archive of the Provincial Council of Barcelona, among others. The meticulous process of crafting precise floorplan depictions of these 132 Catholic parish churches involved utilizing AutoCAD and Photoshop software. This endeavor relied on notations and sketches amassed from field visits, as well as plans sourced from archives and catalogs aforementioned. While acknowledging the historical trajectory of Barcelona's parish churches, the primary focus is on the present-day status of the 132 structures. The intrinsic relationship between building location and urban development is highlighted; contemporary appearances often mask multiple iterations on the same site, originating from centuries-old predecessors. Dynamics like ecclesiastical expropriations and conflicts have prompted reconstructions. Nonetheless, the analysis centers on the current state, adopting a perspective akin to Italo Calvino's approach, encompassing the year of the present structure alongside acknowledging the year of the initial edifice on the site. The methodology encompasses both deductive and inductive reasoning, facilitating its transferability beyond Barcelona. The architectural profiling of these churches not only facilitates comparative exploration with analogous structures but also offers insights into broader religious architectural landscapes. This comprehensive effort contributes to a nuanced comprehension of regional and international architectural trends.


Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Universitat de Barcelona