This beautiful building in the heart of the Gothic Quarter dates back to the 13th century.
Barcelona’s atmospheric Gothic Quarter contains its fair share of awe-inspiring buildings, but perhaps the most impressive of all is the striking cathedral, where you can visit the remains of Saint Eulalia, the city’s patron saint.
The cathedral is a fine example of the classic Gothic style for which this historic area of Barcelona is world-famous. The original building has its roots in the 13th century but has been added to in different eras and adorned according to different styles; this is most noticeable in its ornately carved neo-Gothic façade which dates from the 1800s. Every Sunday the square in front of the cathedral fills with local worshippers waiting for the start of mass. You might be lucky enough to see a group of women performing the traditional Catalan “Sardana” dance here before everyone piles inside for the service.
The vaulted interior of the cathedral dates from the 14th and early 15th centuries and the ornate choir stalls decorated in the Catalan Gothic style are of particular note. Under the high altar is the sarcophagus containing the remains of Saint Eulalia. Many of the cathedral’s treasures are housed in its museum, including a lavishly bejewelled monstrance, the sacred vessel that contains the Eucharistic host during Catholic ceremonies, as well as valuable paintings and sculptures dating from the 11th century onwards.
The cathedral has some unusual residents, too – thirteen white geese, marking the age of Saint Eulalia when she was martyred, roam freely among the trees and fountain of the cloister. During the feast of Corpus Christi the ritual of the “dancing egg”, or “L’ou com balla”, takes place whereby the monks leave an eggshell to “dance” on the top of the fountain. This charming tradition has it that if the egg remains on top of the fountain for a whole day without falling, it is a good omen.
Don’t leave without taking the lift to the roof, where you can enjoy a breathtaking 360-degree panorama of the city. The cathedral is open every day but there are special opening times on Catholic holidays, so check the website for full details. Visitors are welcome to attend mass for free and there is a small charge for the choir stalls, museum and rooftop visit.