This church was begun in 1329 and completed half a century later. It was financed by ship-owners and merchants, and a large part of the town’s population took part in its construction. This is what gave its reputation of a people’s church. The construction reflects the economic boom of the period, fruit of commercial expansion in the Mediterranean, that affected especially the Ribera (Shoreside) neighborhood, where the seamen and craftsmen lived and where the church stands.
The church is the work of the architects Berenguer de Montagut and Ramon Despuig and is dedicated at the Mother of Christ as the patron saint of seamen. It was built over the remains of a small chapel, Santa Maria dels Arenys, which was dedicated to Saint Eulàlia, the virgin martyr patroness of Barcelona, who had supposedly been buried there in 303. Later, the remains were moved to the tomb in the cathedral of Barcelona. The exterior shows peculiarities of the Catalan Gothic, like the straight lines and solid buttresses without arches, that give it its robust, compact look, very different from European Gothic cathedrals. The bell tower is octagonal, and the doors are of solid oak with iron decorations.