Barcelona Cathedral | Barcelona Bus Turístic

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Barcelona Cathedral

A cathedral from the 13th century that was completed in the 20th century

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Eight centuries of history are contained in the stones of a great Gothic cathedral with an interior full of secrets waiting to be discovered. It is home to relics of Saint Eulalia, Barcelona’s patron saint, and one of Catalan Gothic’s most beautiful cloisters.

Why visit Barcelona Cathedral?

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia is the seat of the archbishop of Barcelona and one of the city’s oldest constructions. The cathedral started to be built in 1298 by order of King James II (James the Just) on the same site where there had been a Romanesque cathedral and previously a palaeo-Christian cathedral. The cloister was completed in 1448, but the facade, which was also designed in the 15th century, was never built. This remained the case until in 1887 the industrialist Manuel Girona offered to pay for the work to be done in accordance with the original project. Shortly after, the towers were added, in addition to the lantern tower (1906-1913), which is crowned by an image of Saint Helena, as the Girona family were devotees of hers.

The cathedral has the typical floor plan of Gothic churches in the form of a cross with three aisles, an ambulatory and a transept. It has nine chapels with large stained-glass windows and a false triforium from where you can see the keystones some three metres distant. The cathedral has five doors, the oldest of which, that of Saint Ivo, is from 1298 and for 500 years it was the main entrance. The marble altar, consecrated in 1337 and held up by two capitals from the 6th century from the palaeo-Christian cathedral, and the choir, started in 1390, are particularly noteworthy. The choir stalls are one of the most remarkable examples of Gothic sculpture in Catalonia, upon which in 1517 and 1518 Joan de Borgonya painted the coats-of-arms of the knights of the Order of the Golden Fleece, who had assembled in Barcelona in 1519 by order of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

The cloister is one of the cathedral’s most visited elements. Built in the 14th and 15th centuries, it is accessed from the exterior through two doors, the Door of Piety and the Door of Saint Eulalia, and from the interior through a Romanesque door, the origin of which possibly dates back to the previous cathedral. It has a quadrangular floor plan and a garden with palm trees, magnolias, an orange tree and a fountain. Thirteen geese live there in memory of Saint Eulalia, who was thirteen years old when she was martyred.

More than 140 saints are present in Barcelona Cathedral in the form of altars, Marian dedications and even tombs, but the most important three are Saint Helena, on the lantern tower; Saint Lucy, to whom the Romanesque chapel is dedicated; and Saint Eulalia, the co-patron saint of Barcelona, whose tomb is in the magnificent Gothic crypt. The cathedral’s 21 bells all have women’s names; one of which, Honorata, became historically important because it was rung to call the people of Barcelona to rebel on numerous occasions. The bell was damaged when the city was bombarded in the siege of 1714 and King Philip V had it melted down in retaliation for the revolt.

 

How do you get to Barcelona Cathedral?

The Barri Gòtic stop on the Red Route of Barcelona Bus Turístic is on Via Laietana, at the start of Avinguda de la Catedral!

 

For the most curious of you

  • Did you know? The Chapel of the Holy Christ of Lepanto is home to a figure with a strange posture. It is said that this Christ was on board John of Austria’s galley in the battle of Lepanto (1571) and leaned out of the way of a cannonball. Another legend says that the figure moved to cover a hole that threatened to sink the ship. A life-size replica of the galley is on display at the Maritime Museum.
  • Local’s tip: From the Chapel of the Holy Innocents, next to the Chapel of Saint Ivo, you can access the flat roofs of the cathedral, which offer unique views of the Gothic Quarter, and admire the details of the towers and the lantern tower.
  • A must: To learn about the city’s legends and symbols.