Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “De kathedraal van de zee” as Want to Read:
De kathedraal van de zee
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

De kathedraal van de zee

(La catedral del mar #1)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  42,601 ratings  ·  2,245 reviews
Wie erin slaagt een jaar en een dag binnen de stadsmuren van Barcelona te wonen, is vrij mens volgens het plaatselijk recht. De Catalaanse boer Bernat glipt door de poort naar binnen en redt zo zijn babyzoon Arnau van een leven als lijfeigene. Het kind groeit op in de bruisende binnenstad,waar een kathedraal in aanbouw is: de Santa Maria Del Mar. Samen met zijn boezemvrien ...more
Paperback, 656 pages
Published 2009 by Sijthoff (first published March 2006)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  42,601 ratings  ·  2,245 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of De kathedraal van de zee
Tea Jovanović
This is one of my favorite Spanish novels... And my precious acquisitions as editor... :) I've heard about this book, at that time just published in Spain, from his agent during Book Fair in Turin... called Laguna's big boss during first cigarette break, we agreed to give an offer... And by the time my plane landed in Belgrade Laguna had the rights... :) I was so thrilled with the book that I immediately sold it to Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia, and became fairy editor for Falcones' agent... I' ...more
Apr 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Laura and Janice
It is very important to know when you start this book that it is in fact based on the Chronica of King Pedro III. Although historical fiction, it closely follows true events in Catalonia during the 1300s under King Pedro’s reign. There is tons of history incorporated into the novel. At the same time it has an engaging and fast moving plot. You will learn about Barcelona, the building of the cathedral Sant Maria de la Mar. You will be impressed by the cathedral’s history, its beauty and how it en ...more
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy historical fiction, books that are similar to “Pillars of the Earth”
Shelves: spain
I probably wouldn’t have even heard of this beautiful story, had it not been for a review that I saw on Trip Advisor of all places. I was looking at places to visit for our upcoming trip to Barcelona, deciding on whether or not to visit Santa Maria del Mar, a cathedral in Barcelona. One of the reviewers highly recommended reading this book first. I’m a sucker for reading travel-related books and I have to say that I’ve been hard-pressed to find much that truly interests me when it comes to books ...more
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I gave up on this book at page 252 of 600. The very beginning was pretty interesting, and I found the character of a young man essentially raising his baby alone (with his remote wife) as a successful medieval serf in pastoral Spain very compelling. I liked the stuff through the pottery workshop, too, but after that? It felt to me like the story dropped off for the sake of cramming a historical setting with stock characters to represent different aspects of life in 14th Century Barcelona. There ...more
Hefty historical novel set in fourteenth century Barcelona and revolving around the building of a cathedral (yes there are similarities to Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth). Unlike Follett’s novel this is very much woven around fact and an actual building and events and is based on a contemporary chronicle.
It is well plotted, but there is a certain predictability about it. The topics you would expect to come across are there; the inquisition, the plague, relationships with Jews and Moors, the
Dec 11, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read the book in English and perhaps it was not that good in translation. However, as a person who absolutely loved "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett, I thought that this was just a poor copy of the epic novel. "Cathedral of the Sea" is worth a read if you like historical fiction, but that's pretty much about it. ...more
A story of treachery, battle, destitution, sickness, death, love, betrayal, hardship; all life circumstances in an era filled with mystery and intrigue. From the moment you read the first chapter to the end ; you will endure the life of a peasant, a baron, a nobleman or noblewoman, a prostitute, a warrior, a witch, a friar, an inquisitor and a king. Full review on my blog: ...more
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-in-2018
Great book, couldn't put it down... ...more
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this well crafted historical epic masterpiece at a charity shop and am so thrilled that I did. It is passionate and beautiful, inspiring , uplifting and heartbreaking, with a strong feel for 14th century Catalonia at the height of the Inquisition

Arnau Estanyol is the son of a fugitive serf who acquires freedom, wealth and a high status through the help of his Jewish benefactor Hasdai Crescas and the Moorish slave he is given to him, Guillem, after the rescues Hasdai's three young chi
Oct 16, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I could not bring myself to give this two stars, meaning it was merely OK.

The book was a best seller in Spain, with proclaiming Falcones Spain's answer to Dan Brown. (He is not that good - and not that bad either.) I can see why the book was so popular, for the author, A Catalan, wrote a historical novel of his city, Barcelona. This is something totally unthinkable 50 years ago, when the Franco regime forbade Catalan culture and language.

Perhaps another reason for he book's popularity was its la
(review in English below)

As 3 estrelas são, na verdade, só 2 e meia arredondadas para cima.

Muita maldade para o meu gosto... E não senti qualquer empatia com os protagonistas...

O livro está bastante bem escrito e tem muita informação histórica sobre a Catalunha medieval, especialmente sobre Barcelona, mas só comecei a sentir-me interessada na história quando já ia a meio.

Enfim, nem todos podem ser o Ken Follett...

It's really 2.5 stars rounded up.

Too muck wickedness for my taste... And I didn'
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
During a pleasant stay at a small hostel at the top of a steep hill, or possibly a small mountain in Sorrento, a young woman once discovered a bookshelf. At the top of this very low and wide bookshelf a sign was positioned. It said "Grab one and leave another behind". The young woman got curious, and stepped a bit closer. She let her eyes wander over the shelf, and it truly held books of all sizes and shapes. Some were small and dusty, abandoned rather than left for someone else's joy, others we ...more
I enjoyed this book, a doorstopper but a page-turner. The setting was 14th century Catalonia and backdrop was the construction of a cathedral [Santa Maria del Mar] by the workingmen of Barcelona over a period of decades. The cathedral still exists today in the Ribera district of Barcelona: and is a gorgeous example of the Gothic style. This church serves as framework for the main plot, concerning the Estanyol family.

To escape brutal serfdom, the father,
Great epic book by Ildefonso Falcones providing a historical picture of medieval life, including the beginning of the Inquisition in Spain. No comparison should be made with The Pillars of the Earth as many reviewers are erroneously doing. ...more
Sep 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of historical fiction
Historical fiction based in the fourteenth century Barcelona and surroundings as it follows the life Arnau in his fall from grace and the return to it. The book has this soapy quality which I enjoyed as a casual read. The historical background was more interesting. I have always had more fascination with the Moorish occupation of the Iberian peninsula and have never visited Barcelona even if this is a rather popular place to go to when you are Dutch. Which I think has a lot to do with the footba ...more
It has been awhile since I have thoroughly enjoyed a book the way I enjoyed this one.

The story follows the life of Arnau Estanyol who is brought to Barcelona as an infant by his father, a runaway serf. As a young boy, Arnau goes in search of the Virgin Mother and finds her at the Cathedral Santa Maria de la Mar. The Cathedral looms largely in the center of his life, first as a boy seeking solace, then as a labourer carrying huge blocks of stone on his back for her construction. As the course of
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 14th-century, spain
This is a wonderful historical tale set in 14th century Barcelona. It involves around the building of the Santa Maria cathedral. This beautiful cathedral took 54 years to complete.
This story is based on the Cronica written by King PedroIII. Some of the details of how people were treated were brutal, but these were their customs at the time.
We meet Arnau Estanyo who has just arrived in Barcelona with his young son. They are trying to make a better life for themselves. Arnau becomes a bastaitos,
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this one back in 2011-2012 (don't remember exactly) and it made a huge impression on me. it
is one of those novel you will never forget. And now as I watched the 8 episodes series on Netflix (which are catalan-spanish production and not hollywood)i decided to give this book the well deserved 5 stars and write a short review here.
The series is also fantastic.
Allison Westervelt
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Liza Perrat
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in 14th century Barcelona, around the building of the magnificent Santa Maria del Mar––Cathedral of the Sea––in the Ribera district, I really enjoyed this book.
The main character, Arnau Estanyol is the son of a fugitive peasant who starts out as a lowly porter, carrying stones for the building of this cathedral. Arnau’s luck turns when King Pedro makes him a baron as a reward for his courage in battle. But the king also forces him to marry Eleonor, one of his wards, with who Arnau is not in
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spanish-lit, español

I was curious about this book for two reasons. First, after seeing the book cover online reminded me of being in this beautiful cathedral a few years ago. The tall columns flowing up to the high ceiling as the light cascading inside gave it an ethereal feeling. And then a gypsy woman tried to get money off us seeking us flowers and the peaceful feeling quickly dissipated. Then a high praise from a fellow GR friend made me read the book.

Since I can say I was in this Cathedral, I wanted to kn
Emma Iadanza
I'm really disappointed to say that I expected a lot more from this book, and it didn't provide as I wanted it to. The writing was not fantastic, and, while it was interesting, the plot was just a bit annoying to me after a while.

As an author, I do think that doing bad things to characters is interesting. But as a novel --- constantly hurting your characters is a bit much. Arnau, the main character, has suffered way more than any person ever should, as have many of the other characters. (view sp
The book starts with a story of a boy (main character) and his father, who flee their lands from cruel and abusive landlords and arrive in Barcelona, which offers freedom to those who live there for a year and one day.

The story continues with the main character, Arnau Estanyol, and his adopted brother. Arnau joins the guild of stoneworkers and takes part in building the Cathedral of the Sea. The adopted brother travels to Bologna to continue his education in theology. Meanwhile, Arnau befriends
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know very little about the history of Barcelona. Thus, when I saw this book I eagerly bought it. The book didn't disappoint in telling about the history of the place. It was fascinating to know the economy, culture and people of the setting in the 14th century. The author clearly did a lot of research to present a story that involves almost all the levels of a medieval society - the nobility, the peasants, the merchants and the outcasts. It all revolves around Arnau Estanyol, the son of a serf ...more
Jul 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My parents gave me this Spanish-language book for my birthday, and I have to hand it to them for gifting me such a great combination of two of my favorite interests: fiction and history. The novel is set in 14th century Catalunia, in Barcelona in particular, and though driven by strong characters and a twisting plot that quickly drew me in, the history of the Catalans and their premier city on the sea plays a great role in this work. The author, obviously a Catalan proud of his people's history ...more
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When the sales person at the local book store recommended Cathedral of the Sea to me, I was reluctant to give in to her high praise. Since one of my favorite books is historical fiction novel, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett which, like Cathedral of the Sea, is about the building of a cathedral during Medieval times, I thought it would be impossible not to compare the two, and that no book would ever be able to outshine the brilliance of Follett's masterpiece. Well, I should learn to alw ...more
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I could not put it down... Even if the writing style of Ildefonso Falcones is not according to my taste, it grab me from the beginning! It is deeply moving historical novel with accurate history plot that spreads several decades of 14th century. Captivating, gripping story about friendship, freedom, passion, jealousy, greed, envy, feudal opression, religious persecution, pogroms against Jews, inquisition, war, plague, famine, prejudice, betrayal, revenge, about the pain of forbidden love, loyalt ...more
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For anyone heading to Spain, or even more so Barcelona, this historical fiction novel is a must. It teaches you so much about Catalan history and the spirit of the Catalans themselves through the compelling story of the main protagonist. I finished the book on a Wed night and sat in a mass at the Cathedral by the Sea that Sunday. A very special and memorable experience because the book had taught me how very special this cathedral is to the city and its working class people whose ancestors built ...more
Siri Baastad
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great storyteller but a terrible translation to Norwegian. But it made my husband read a book for once, so I am happy.
Tanja (Tanychy)
This book is one of the results of my long wandering around the library. Ever since I've read The Shadow of the Wind and then other Zafon's books I wonder around Spanish corner to find something like those books. (No, I haven't succeed yet, but I won't give up.) During that time I somehow started to dream about Barcelona. Spain was never my "dreamland" (that has always been Brazil), but after reading all those beautiful descriptions of Barcelona I have to say If I could choose where to live one ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Dime quién soy
  • Los pilares de la tierra I (Parte 1 de 3)
  • Dispara, yo ya estoy muerto
  • La sombra del viento de Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Guía de lectura): Resumen y análisis completo
  • The Physician (Cole Family Trilogy, #1)
  • The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge, #1)
  • The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1)
  • The Time in Between
  • La sombra del viento de Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Guía de lectura): Resumen y análisis completo
  • Patria
  • El Médico. Volumen I
  • La sangre de los inocentes
  • Los renglones torcidos de Dios
  • The Last Jew
  • Pasión india
  • Africanus: El hijo del cónsul (Publio Cornelio Escipión, #1)
  • Los hombres que no amaban a las mujeres + DVD Pelicula Millennium 1
  • Te daré la tierra
See similar books…
lldefonso Falcones de Sierra, married and the father of four children, is a lawyer who lives and works in Barcelona. The cathedral of the sea is his homage to a people capable of building, in the then unusual span of fifty-four years, what is undoubtedly one of the most lovely churches in the world.

A historical novel that has become an unprecedented bestseller, recognized by both readers and criti

Other books in the series

La catedral del mar (2 books)
  • Los herederos de la tierra (La catedral del mar, #2)

News & Interviews

The beauty of a paperback novel is multidimensional. Allow me to explain: The format allows you to catch up on some of 2020's biggest books...
83 likes · 7 comments
“The past doesn't exist. There is nothing to be sorry for. Today is when we start to live. Look... look at the sea. The sea has no past. It is just there. It will never ask us to explain. The stars, the moon are there to light our way, to shine for us. What do they care what might have happened in the past? They are accompanying us, and are happy with that; can you see them shine? The stars are twinkling in the sky; would they do that if the past mattered? Wouldn't there be a huge storm if God wanted to punish us? We are alone, you and I, with no past, no memories, no guilt, nothing that can stand in the way of... our love.” 72 likes
“Nunca te fíes de los que dicen servir a Dios. Te hablará con serenidad y buenas palabras, tan cultas que no alcanzarás a entenderlas. Tratarán de convencerte con argumentos que sólo ellos saben hilvanar hasta adueñares de tu razón y tu conciencia. Se presentarán a ti como hombres bondadosos que dirán querer salvarnos del mal y de la tentación, pero en realidad su opinión sobre nosotros está escrita y todos ellos, como soldados de Cristo que se llaman, siguen con fidelidad aquello que está escrito en los libros. Sus palabras son excusas y sus razones, idénticas a las que tú podrías darle a un mocoso.” 18 likes
More quotes…