The Barcelona Cathedral (La Seu) is one of the finest Gothic buildings in Barcelona as well as one of the largest and most impressive religious building in all of Spain. It is located in the center of Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter), near the famous Las Ramblas.
The Cathedral features a stunning Gothic façade and an equally spectacular interior, which is flanked by 28 beautifully-decorated chapels. The lighting is very atmospheric and can make for some dark, grainy photos, but it’s absolutely lovely to explore. Our favorite part was the adjacent cloister, which you must enter from a door on the exterior right side of the building from Career del Bisbe.
The cloister is an unexpectedly bucolic setting tucked away in an inner courtyard. There you will find a charming garden filled with orange and palm trees and a mossy central pond and fountain. This is surrounded by a Gothic portico paved with well-worn stone slabs containing tombs of key members of the Barri Gòtic’s ancient guilds. Many are almost unreadable due to the centuries of foot traffic, but we saw some dating back to the 1500’s.
The cloister is also famous for its Well of the Geese, which contains 13 white geese, each representing one year in the life of the martyr, Saint Eulalia, co-patron saint of Barcelona and to whom the cathedral is dedicated.
The site occupied by the Barcelona Cathedral has been the spiritual center of Barcelona since at least as far back as Roman times, when it was the setting for a Roman temple called Mount Jupiter. In 343 AD, with the legalization of Christianity under Constantine, a Christian basilica was built on this site. Later, when the Moors invaded in the 8th century, Barcelona briefly fell under Islamic rule and the basilica was replaced with a mosque. Before long, the Franks took Barcelona back from the Muslims and the mosque was replaced by a new Christian cathedral in 877 AD, at which time the relics of its patron Saint, Eulalia, were transferred here.
Barcelona was raided by Muslims once again in 985 AD and the cathedral was yet again destroyed. It was during this raid that the Frankish King, Louis V, refused to help repulse the raiders and the counts of Barcelona declared their independence from the Franks. This is considered to be the birth of Catalunya as a nation state, and today many Catalans still think of themselves as a separate and unique nation.
With characteristic tenacity, Barcelona rebuilt the cathedral once again in 1046 AD in the Romanesque style, but it wasn’t until 1298 AD when construction began on the current day cathedral under King Jaume II. Construction continued for six centuries, being funded by various guilds and brotherhoods.
Address: Pla de la Seu, s/n
Getting there: Metro: L4 stop Jaume I.| Bus: 17, 45, 120 and V17.|
Web site: www.catedralbcn.org
Guided Visits: Tuesday to Sunday, from 11am to 1pm.
Cathedral: Monday to Saturday, from 8am to 7.30pm (from 1pm to 5pm, entrance 6€). Sunday and public holidays, from 8am to 7.30pm (from 2pm to 5pm, entrance 6€).
Cloister: Monday to Saturday, from 8.30am to 12.30pm and from 5.15pm to 7pm. Sunday and public holiday, from 8.30am to 1pm and from 5.15pm to 7pm.