One of Barcelona’s impressive historical structures is the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, referred to simply as Barcelona Cathedral. This 13th century church, in the Barri Gótic neighborhood, was built on the foundations of a primitive basilica dating to the 4th century. And, like a number of the churches across Western Europe, it’s believed to be on the site of an ancient Roman Temple. Construction of the cathedral took over 600 years with some finishing touches being made as recently as the late-19th and early-20th centuries.
With its dramatic Catalan Gothic architecture,
numerous side chapels (there are 25),
adjacent cloister and courtyard with amazing view of the bell tower, the Barcelona Cathedral has become one of the city’s major attractions and is worth a visit.
Highlights of the Cathedral include:
The Baptistery – located just to the left of the main entrance, in one of the many side chapels, the Baptistery contains a 15th century goblet-shaped font made of Carrara marble.
Choir Stalls – Standing in the center of the cathedral these intricately carved wooden stalls, each bearing a shield of the Knights of the Order of the Golden Fleece, date back to the late Middle Ages. Enclosed within marble walls, embellished with 16th century reliefs depicting events in the life of Saint Eulalia, the choir also includes an ornate wooden pulpit and bishop’s chair.
Cimborio – This architectural rooftop lantern just inside the main entrance provides a source of light inside the cathedral. The cimborio took almost 500 years to construct and was completed in 1913. While gazing up at the cimborio or other parts of the cathedral ceiling,
notice the many keystones (215 in all) at the apex of the arches. These stones date back to the 14th and 15th centuries and are carved with images depicting saints, church officials and other religious icons.
The Cloister – this Medieval Gothic cloister is known for its courtyard, fountain of Saint George and the geese, of which there are 13; a number reportedly corresponding to the age of Saint Eulalia when she was martyred. The courtyard is surrounded by arched galleries, a number of side chapels, the Church Museum and Chapter House and tombs of city guild members.
The Crypt of Saint Eulalia – this 14th century marble sarcophagus, beneath the main altar, holds the remains of 13-year old Eulalia, joint patron saint of the city of Barcelona, who in 304 A.D. was crucified by the Romans.
The Museum-Chapter House – Accessed via the Cloister courtyard, the Cathedral Museum is housed in a former soup kitchen and extends into the adjacent Chapter House. Exhibited in the museum are works of religious art, architectural elements, an 11th-century baptismal font, and the prized treasure – a 14th-century jewel-studded monstrance of gold and silver resting atop the gilded silver throne of King Martin. Of note in the Chapter House is the ceiling decorated with 18th-century paintings depicting the Glorification of Saint Eulalia and Saint Olegarius.
Rooftop – for an up-close and personal look at the bell towers and church spires, and to get a bird’s eye view over the Barri Gòtic, head to the rooftop. The elevator is located in the Chapel of the Holy Innocents, near the Door of San Ivo (Saint Yves) in the northeast transept (to your left when facing the main altar and the Crypt of Saint Eulalia).
Barcelona Cathedral is located at Plaça de la Seu. It’s a short walk (~7 minutes) from Museu Picasso and about 15 minutes from La Rambla.
Regular Admission (Cathedral) = Free during designated times
Rooftop = 3.00€
Choir = 3.00€
Combo Ticket = 7.00€, includes Cathedral + Museum + Choir + Rooftop
Be sure to check the Cathedral website for opening times and admission fee updates.
If you’re here on Sundays between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., take the time to watch the group that gathers on the square – Pla de la Seu – in front of the Cathedral to perform the traditional Sardana Dance. Banned under Franco’s fascist regime and proudly revived following his demise, this group dance is the traditional folk dance of Catalunya.