A written archive from 998 A.D. is the oldest reference to the survival of the Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar, whose outer walls indeed set Catalan Gothic apart from other similar European designs. It took a mere 55 years to be finished, setting an unrivalled record during the Middle Ages. With pooled resources from merchants and shipbuilders, architect Berenguer de Montagut began this religious masterpiece, and the first stone was laid to honor the conquest of Sardinia, which ensured Catalan domination in the Mediterranean. There is an irrevocable unity in its physical guise: 15th-century rose window of the Coronation of the Virgin on the west front, matching with 15th- to 18th-century stained glass lighting the various naves and aisles. The burning of the choir and some furnishings during the Civil War, however, adds to a heightened sense of space inside. Catch a musical event here, whether it is on classical music or the occasional jazz; the church interiors promise superb acoustic quality.