The Supercomputer MareNostrum is installed in Torre Girona Chapel

The Supercomputer MareNostrum is installed in Torre Girona Chapel

When it comes to storage of supercomputers, people most often imagine harsh concrete hangars, where cars flashing all the lights are right on the floor. Warehouses, hangars, abandoned premises or specially constructed concrete boxes - this is where such supercomputers stand. But not in Barcelona. The local supercomputer decided to place its server computers ... in the church.


What was once a holy place of worship, known as the “Torre-Girona”, It was built in the 1860s by the Girona family, after which it passed into the possession of the Polytechnic University, which began using the chapel as one of the halls for lectures and meetings but now home of Barcelona Supercomputer Center. The vast main hall is filled with futuristic computer equipment under glass.

At some point, the Supercomputer Management Center needed a room to house its supercomputer (it was called MareNostrum, that is, “our sea”). The room required a spacious, without columns and rooms - more like a hangar, and also able to withstand very heavy weight - MareNostrum weighs 44.5 tons. There were two options: to build such a room from scratch, rent a private room or use a local chapel, which stood on the territory of the state university. 

“We didn’t even doubt our decision and immediately began installing a supercomputer in the chapel,” says Gemma Maspoch, head of the computer center.

Russia also has its own supercomputer, it is located in Moscow. It is ranked as the third fastest computing in Europe and 18th in the world. Barcelona MareNostrum shares the load with another supercomputer in Madrid and ranks 13th in the list of the most efficient supercomputers in the world.

The Supercomputer MareNostrum is installed in Torre Girona Chapel
Church with a supercomputer inside.

Outside, the church remained almost unchanged, except for the new porch. Vaults, stained glass windows and turrets remained in place. Inside, they also tried to keep everything in its original form, the only thing that has seriously changed is the floor covering: in order to withstand a lot of weight and possible overheating, they created special pallets for the floor and glass cabinets.

The Supercomputer MareNostrum is installed in Torre Girona Chapel
Computer technology among the vaults of the chapel.

Outside, the church remained almost unchanged, except for the new porch. Vaults, stained glass windows and turrets remained in place. Inside, they also tried to keep everything in its original form, the only thing that has seriously changed is the floor covering: in order to withstand a lot of weight and possible overheating, they created special pallets for the floor and glass cabinets.

The Supercomputer MareNostrum is installed in Torre Girona Chapel
Tower of Girona in Barcelona.

Since 2005, the former church houses MareNostrum, one of the most powerful supercomputers in Europe, which has played an important role in the development of modern microchip technology. The giant machine is used to perform massively complex calculations related to such areas of research as the mapping of the human genome, astrophysics and weather forecast. 


Physically, a computer consists of several black computing stacks, all of which are enclosed in a giant glass box, which is located in the romantic main hall of Torre Girona. Restored after the Spanish Civil War, Torre Girona, a 19th century church, is located on the premises of the University of Catalonia Polytechnic.

The Supercomputer MareNostrum is installed in Torre Girona Chapel
MareNostrum.

The Supercomputer MareNostrum is installed in Torre Girona Chapel
To accommodate MareNostrum special glass cabinets were created.

The Supercomputer MareNostrum is installed in Torre Girona Chapel
Inside the towers of Girona.

The Supercomputer MareNostrum is installed in Torre Girona Chapel
Supercomputer inside the church.

The Supercomputer MareNostrum is installed in Torre Girona Chapel
MareNostrum.

The Supercomputer MareNostrum is installed in Torre Girona Chapel
Server computers.

The Supercomputer MareNostrum is installed in Torre Girona Chapel
Supercomputer inside the church.

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