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Barcelona Cathedral

Facade Barcelona cathedral
Facade Barcelona cathedral

Alongside the Sagrada Familia the cathedral is one of Barcelona’s two most important places of worship. The view from the square  Plaça de la Seu is as impressive by day as it is by night. The cathedral stands on the highest point of the historic centre at just 12 metres above sea level. The cathedral is a must on every Barcelona tourist’s agenda.

Construction began in the year 1298 under James II on the foundations of a Roman temple and a Moorish mosque. The building work continued throughout the 13th and 15th centuries, however, the monumental façade was not completed until the end of the 19th century, although the style was respected. The central tower was completed in the year 1913.

The patron saint Santa Eulalia

The cathedral is devoted to Santa Eulalia, the patron saint of the Barcelona diocese, today more widely known as Virgen de la Merced. In a broader sense, she is also seen as the patron saint of the city of Barcelona. Legend has it that during Roman times a young woman was put on show naked in the town square and as if by miracle, in the middle of the spring, so much snow fell that her nudity was covered up. Enraged, the Roman officials placed her in a barrel full of shards of glass, nails and knives and pushed her down a steep slope. This is how there came to be 13 martyrs, one for every year of the saint’s life. In the end she was crucified on a cross which is now the emblem of the cathedral and the Barcelona diocese.

Geese in the garden
Visitors will marvel at the geese in the cathedral’s cloister palm garden. In the middle ages the geese served as an “alarm system”. Any intruders were given away by the cackling of the geese and the tradition has been kept alive until this very day. 

Formidable dimensions

The inside of the cathedral in Barcelona’s historic centre is highly impressive thanks to its dimensions: 83 metres long and 25 metres high. There are three naves in the cathedral; in the middle of the main nave are the wonderful choir stalls, typical of Spanish churches. At the end of the side aisles there are two small chapels side by side; each trying to outdo the other as far as beauty and decor are concerned.

Entry to Barcelona cathedral: free

Metro Barcelona cathedral: Urquinaona or Jaume I