Barcelona Cathedral: Ultimate Visitors’ Guide (2024)

front façade of Barcelona Cathedral in Spain
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The Barcelona Cathedral isn’t just a building – it’s a piece of history that’s as breathtaking as it is ancient. This Gothic masterpiece, with its soaring spires and intricate details, is a highlight for anyone visiting Barcelona.

I live in Spain and have been to the cathedral many times. Each visit, I’m struck by something new – whether it’s a detail in the stonework or a piece of its storied history.

So, what makes the Barcelona Cathedral a must-see, and what fascinating stories are hidden in its nooks and crannies?

Whether its the long history, stunning architecture, or even the view from the top that takes your breath away, come uncover the charm and secrets of the Barcelona Cathedral and see why it’s a jewel in the city’s architectural crown.

(Although make sure you get your tickets to the Cathedral in advance as entry spots frequently sell out well ahead of time!)

Planning a trip to Barcelona last minute?

If you’re booking your trip to Barcelona last minute, I’ve got you covered. Below are some of the top tours, hotels, and more!

⭐ Most popular sights in Barcelona

  1. Sagrada Familia – tickets often sell out weeks in advance so get your entry ticket here (or entry tickets AND a guided tour here)
  2. Park Güell – grab your skip-the-line entry
  3. Casa Batlló – click here for tickets and audio guide

🌍 Top tours in Barcelona

  1. Montserrat Tour, Monastery and Winery (great day trip!)
  2. Flamenco Show at Tablao Flamenco Cordobes (incredible night out)
  3. Tapas Walking Tour with Food, Wine, and History (all the highlights at once)

🛏️ Top hotels in Barcelona

  1. Ohla Barcelona (5-star luxury with an amazing rooftop pool)
  2. Seventy Barcelona (boutique hotel with beautiful décor)
  3. Àmfores Boutique Guest House (great budget option with superb location)

🚌 Want free public transport while you’re in Barcelona? Check out the Hola Barcelona travel card!

What is the famous cathedral in Barcelona called?

The famous cathedral in Barcelona is called the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, or simply, Barcelona Cathedral. It’s a Gothic cathedral located in the heart of Barcelona, Spain, and is an important landmark in the city.

Barcelona Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona and holds religious and historical significance. Having been established in the 14th century, it’s dedicated to the city’s co-patron Saint Eulalia.

front façade of Barcelona Cathedral in Spain

(Keep in mind as well that this Cathedral is different from the so-called Cathedral of the Sea in Barcelona – which is also worth seeing though!)

Eulalia was a martyr who lost her life after refusing to dismiss her belief in Jesus as the Son of God. Her tomb lies in a crypt within the Cathedral, making it a revered and sacred site.

In addition to this history, the architecture is also incredibly impressive. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the soaring roof, intricate carvings and beautiful art work throughout the building.

front façade of Barcelona Cathedral in Spain

Old Town and Gothic Quarter Walking Tour

The best tour for seeing Barcelona Cathedral and the other highlights of the Gothic Quarter.

Learn about more than 2,000 years of history while being shown some of the most spectacular sights in the city.

Barcelona Cathedral vs Sagrada Familia

You might often come across people confusing Barcelona Cathedral with Sagrada Familia, and some websites may even refer to Sagrada Familia as a cathedral. However, it’s important to clarify that these are two distinct landmarks in Barcelona – in particular, that the Sagrada Familia is a basilica, not a cathedral.

Barcelona Cathedral, officially known as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, is a Gothic-style cathedral located in the Gothic Quarter of the city. It serves as the cathedral church of the Archdiocese of Barcelona.

This incredible structure dates back to the 14th century, showcasing magnificent Gothic architecture, ornate chapels, and a striking central nave.

On the other hand, the Sagrada Familia is a modernist basilica designed by the world-famous architect, Antoni Gaudí. It’s situated in the Eixample district of Barcelona and is not the cathedral church of the Archdiocese.

The magnificent Barcelona Cathedral.

Though it remains under construction, the basilica stands as a testament to Gaudí’s creativity and vision, with its distinctive and whimsical towers, incredible facades, and nature-inspired interiors.

While both of these incredible Barcelona monuments share religious and cultural significance, they also showcase the city’s architectural evolution. Barcelona Cathedral represents the rich history and tradition of the city with its blend of Gothic and Spanish architecture.

In contrast, Sagrada Familia embodies Gaudí’s unique modernist style, highlighting Barcelona’s openness to innovation and the influence of Catalan Modernism.

One similarity they both have? It’s important to book tickets in advance to see each of them – especially the Sagrada Familia which frequently sells out weeks ahead of time.

You can get skip-the-line tickets to the Sagrada Familia here and purchase fast entry to the Cathedral here. Trust me when I say that if you want to see inside either building, buying tickets in advance is a must.

Is Barcelona Cathedral worth seeing?

Yes, Barcelona Cathedral is definitely worth seeing! It’s an impressive Gothic cathedral with a rich history, offering a unique opportunity for art lovers and photographers alike. As you explore the cathedral, you’ll be amazed by its remarkable architecture and intricate details.

The Barcelona Cathedral, also known as La Seu, is located in the heart of the Barri Gòtic district. This historic area adds to the charm and atmosphere surrounding the cathedral.

The outside of the cathedral features intricate stone carvings and gargoyles, while the inside is adorned with beautiful stained glass windows, ornate chapels, and impressive vaulted ceilings.

In addition to its stunning architecture, the Barcelona Cathedral has a vast collection of artwork and religious artifacts. You’ll find magnificent altarpieces, sculptures, and paintings, showcasing the talents of various artists throughout history.

The majestic view inside of the Barcelona cathedral.

For photographers, the cathedral is a treasure trove of opportunities. With its imposing façade, soaring interior ceilings, and breathtaking artwork, you’ll have no shortage of captivating scenes to capture.

Just remember that the cathedral is a place of worship, so be respectful when taking photos and exploring the premises. And don’t forget that you need to get tickets for the Cathedral in advance if you want to go inside.

Lastly, don’t miss out on visiting the 14th-century cloister, which is located within the cathedral grounds. It’s as spectacular as the cathedral itself, and the tranquil atmosphere provides a great contrast to the bustling streets of Barcelona.

Take some time to walk around the charming courtyard and admire the lush greenery and peaceful ambiance.

History of Barcelona Cathedral

The Barcelona Cathedral, known in Spanish as Catedral de Barcelona, began construction on May 1, 1298, and was virtually completed by the mid-15th century. It’s dedicated to Saint Eulalia, the city’s co-patron saint, who is believed to have been a virgin martyr during the Roman times.

During Roman times, the remains of a 4th-century church with white marble columns were discovered along its eastern wall. This primitive church held Eulalia’s relics until 985, when Moorish leader Al-Mansur ransacked Barcelona and destroyed the cathedral.

The Gothic cathedral that you see today commenced construction in 1298 and spans almost two centuries. It was consecrated in 1339 and has been a major place of religious worship ever since.

The front view of Barcelona Cathedral.

Its beautiful cloister, which includes the Well of the Geese (Font de les Oques), was finished in 1448. It was built during the mandates of several bishops and under the reigns of different kings, such as King James II of Aragon and King Alfonso V of Aragon, showcasing a rich history.

Over the centuries, the cathedral has undergone several updates, such as the addition of a dome in 1913. Throughout this time, the cathedral has remained an important symbol of Barcelona’s rich history and spiritual heritage.

If you’re looking for a great tour that will show you the highlights of Barcelona’s incredible 2,000+ year history, I definitely recommend this Old Town and Gothic Quarter Walking Tour.

You’ll be taken to the best parts of the oldest, most interesting parts of the city, while hearing stories about this time and the centuries that have followed. In particular, for first-timers, it’s a great way to see all the main spots at once.

Architecture of Barcelona Cathedral

The Barcelona Cathedral is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture. The cathedral has three naves, a single apse, and an ambulatory, providing a mesmerizing aesthetic. Its architecture showcases a blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque elements.

The cathedral’s facade is adorned with intricate carvings and towering spires, making it a visual spectacle. The interior is equally impressive with its high Gothic arches, which were a common feature in European Gothic cathedrals.

These arches, along with the ribbed vaults, contribute to the grandiosity and height of the building.

Front view of Barcelona Cathedral in night.

Inside the cathedral, you’ll find various chapels dedicated to different saints, each displaying attention to detail in their decoration. The stained-glass windows are yet another highlight of the cathedral, with their vivid colors and intricate designs that come to life when sunlight filters through them.

The Chevet, or the head of the church, features an ambulatory allowing visitors and pilgrims to circulate around the main altar without interrupting the clergy at prayer.

One interesting aspect of the Barcelona Cathedral is the presence of modernist elements amidst the Gothic architecture. Over the centuries, the cathedral underwent several modifications and additions, integrating these divergent styles harmoniously.

When visiting the Barcelona Cathedral, take your time to explore its architectural marvels. You’ll be amazed by the grandeur of this historic landmark and its ability to combine various styles into one cohesive, awe-inspiring structure.

What is inside Barcelona Cathedral?

As you step inside the Barcelona Cathedral, you’re immediately struck by its impressive Gothic architecture. Marvel at the high altar, which makes for a clear view of the crypt where the body of Saint Eulalia is entombed. Numerous chapels and monuments are dedicated to various saints and all flank the main aisle.

Built over six centuries, Barcelona Cathedral is home to about 25 chapels and a multitude of artworks that showcase the craftsmanship of different periods. One of the most significant aspects of the interior is the choir stalls.

These intricately carved wooden seats were designed in the 15th century and boast elaborate coats of arms in honor of the king’s presence in 1519.

The baptistery is another breathtaking feature you’ll find inside the cathedral. Built in the 15th century, it showcases classic Gothic artistry that reflects the religious importance of the space.

Notice the pastel-colored frescoes adorning its walls, emblematic of the art of that time.

Inside of  the Barcelona Cathedral.

Gold elements are also present throughout the cathedral, adding an extra layer of opulence. Among the exceptional pieces, the Christ of Lepanto – a 14th-century crucifix covered in gold – garners significant attention.

Admire the large, suspended gold lamps, which provide a touch of elegance in contrast to the cathedral’s somber stone walls.

Although not strictly a museum, Barcelona Cathedral houses several pieces of art that could rival any esteemed gallery. While there isn’t a dedicated exhibit space, you’ll find a rich collection of sculptures, altarpieces, and paintings distributed throughout the chapels.

As you wander this magnificent landmark, take in the details of the beautiful tapestries and the towering stained-glass windows, which paint stories of religious history in vibrant colors.

What is special about Barcelona Cathedral?

Barcelona Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Minor Basilica that holds a significant place in the heart of the city. This Gothic architectural marvel, completed in the 15th century, houses the tombs of prominent figures like Saints Eulàlia and Olegarius.

With its impressive bell tower, fascinating gargoyles, and captivating legend of 13 white geese, it’s easy to see why the cathedral is special.

The cathedral’s crypt is the final resting place of Saint Eulalia, Barcelona’s patron saint who suffered martyrdom at a young age. According to the legend, there are 13 white geese in the cathedral’s cloister representing her age when she was martyred.

The inside of Barcelona Cathedral.

The serene atmosphere of the cloister provides a calming retreat from the bustling streets of Barcelona.

One of the cathedral’s most distinctive features is its bell tower which rises over 50 meters high, and offers panoramic views of the city. If you’re up for the challenge, you can climb the tower’s 215 steps to enjoy the breathtaking vistas.

In addition, the cathedral’s façade boasts a stunning collection of intricately carved gargoyles, representing diverse mythological creatures and animals, which are believed to protect the sacred space from evil spirits.

Inside the cathedral, you will find an impressive nave and beautifully crafted stained glass windows that date back 500 years. Expert guides are available to walk you through the history and significance of various parts of the cathedral, including the high altar and the chapels dedicated to different saints.

Another noteworthy aspect of the Barcelona Cathedral is its recognition as a Minor Basilica by Pope Urban II. This title reflects its importance as a center of worship and bears testimony to its historical and architectural significance.

When you visit Barcelona Cathedral, you’ll not only admire its breathtaking beauty, but also appreciate the rich history and cultural significance that make it a truly unique gem in the heart of the city.

What are the visiting hours for Barcelona Cathedral?

The visiting hours for the Barcelona Cathedral vary between weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays:

  • On weekdays, visiting hours are from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm, with last entry at 6:00 pm.
  • For Saturdays and festive vigils (religious), the hours are from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm, with the last access at 4:30 pm.
  • On Sundays and religious festivals, the cathedral is closed for cultural and tourist visits.

If you wish to attend a mass at the cathedral, check the website to see exactly when they are on this week. Keep in mind that mass at Barcelona Cathedral is done in Catalan or Spanish.

Outside view of Barcelona Cathedral during daytime.

When is there free entry to the Barcelona Cathedral?

There are specific times when you can enjoy free entry to Barcelona Cathedral, particularly if you visit for worship purposes. During weekdays, free entrance is available from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and 5:45 pm to 7:30 pm. On Saturdays, you can enter for free from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and 5:15 pm to 8:00 pm.

On Sundays and holidays, free entry is available from 8:30 am to 1:45 pm and 5:15 pm to 8:00 pm. With this complimentary access, you’re permitted to explore the cathedral floor and the cloister, which is the inner courtyard and garden home to the famous 13 white geese.

Please note that these free entry times are meant for worship and prayer, so if you’re there for sightseeing purposes, you may be approached. To respect the church, it is suggested to purchase a ticket during the tourist visiting hours if you’re not there for prayer.

How to get to the Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral is located in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, Spain. Getting to the cathedral is quite easy as it’s accessible via various means of transportation. You’ll find it at Plaça de la Seu, s/n, 08002 Barcelona, right in the heart of the city.

One convenient way to reach the cathedral is by Metro. The nearest metro station is Jaume I (L4/Yellow Line), which is just a short walk away.

Barcelona Cathedral during daytime.

Alternatively, you can also use Liceu metro station (green line L3), situated around 350 meters from the cathedral and near the lively La Rambla. Expect to walk for about 3-8 minutes from either station.

Another option is using the bus system in the city. The closest bus stop to the Barcelona Cathedral is Via Laietana – Pl Ramon Berengue, which is about 230 meters away.

Hop on bus numbers 47, 120, N8, N28, V15, or V17 to reach this stop. Additionally, the La Rambla – Liceu bus stop is just six minutes away from the cathedral.

Is there a dress code for Barcelona Cathedral?

Yes, there is a dress code for the Barcelona Cathedral that you need to follow when visiting. It’s essential to show respect for the religious significance of the cathedral and maintain a peaceful atmosphere for worshipers. Shoulders must be covered, and clothes should not be too short, generally falling at or below the knee.

You should be aware of the strict dress code enforced by guards at the door. Casual dress is acceptable at the Catedral de Barcelona, but it’s essential to ensure that your attire is modest and conservative – as, ultimately, this is still a Cathedral, not just a tourist site.

Can I wear shorts to Barcelona Cathedral?

No, you’re not advised to wear shorts to Barcelona Cathedral. Shorts above the knee are seen as inappropriate and don’t comply with the Cathedral’s dress code. For visits to sacred sites like the Cathedral, it’s best to dress modestly to show respect, especially since there may be other worshipers present.

For men, while formal attire isn’t required, it’s a good idea to wear trousers or pants that cover your knees. Shirts or t-shirts are acceptable, but it’s suggested to avoid sleeveless tops or tank tops.

(And it’s not just about Barcelona Cathedral – this dress code is applicable for other churches and historical sites in Spain, too, including the Sagrada Familia.)

Keep in mind that the same modest dressing approach applies to women visiting the Cathedral. Lightweight tops and bottoms are recommended for comfort in Barcelona’s climate.

If visiting during winter (December to February), you can opt for heavier clothing. Just make sure to adhere to the dress code guidelines – no revealing clothing, such as see-through outfits, strapless tops, or swimwear.

Why are there 13 geese in Barcelona Cathedral?

There are 13 white geese which live within the Barcelona Cathedral’s courtyard and which are kept there as a homage to Saint Eulalia, the cathedral’s patron saint, who was martyred at the age of 13. The geese represent her age and the tribulations she endured during her life.

Saint Eulalia was a young goose herder in the early days of her life, which adds unique symbolism to the presence of geese in the cathedral. When she refused to renounce her Christian faith during Roman rule, she suffered through 13 different tortures, including crucifixion on a saltire.

Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia one of the best Barcelona Cathedral.

Her bravery and dedication to her faith inspired reverence for her across Barcelona. The cathedral embraces this heritage by including the 13 geese in the Gothic cloister.

The cloister itself is a beautiful enclosed garden with palm and orange trees. With the company of these (usually!) silent creatures, visitors find a peaceful space for contemplation and reflection on the cathedral’s rich history and the enduring spirit of Saint Eulalia.

Is the Barcelona Cathedral not finished?

Yes, construction of the Barcelona Cathedral finished in the mid-15th century, although a dome was added in 1913. However, many people do confuse Barcelona Cathedral with the Sagrada Familia which isn’t finished yet. Construction of that basilica is expected to be done in 2026.

Of course, modern restoration efforts continue on the iconic Gothic cathedral to ensure it remains an impressive destination in the coming years. However, this doesn’t mean that construction hasn’t finished – in fact, it finished more than 500 years ago!

Concurrently, the famous Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is nearing completion as the central evangelist towers were recently finished after more than 140 years of ongoing construction.

Sagrada Familia under constructions is one of the best Barcelona Cathedral.

Who is buried in Barcelona Cathedral?

Saint Eulalia, the patron saint of Barcelona, is buried in Barcelona Cathedral. The crypt beneath the high altar also houses several other tombs, including that of Saint Olegarius. Apart from these notable figures, there are also multiple bishops and canons interred within the cathedral’s walls.

One notable bishop buried here is Ramon Berenguer II, who ruled Barcelona from 1076 to 1082. His remains, along with other important church figures such as Guillem Raimon de Montcada and Bernat de Llobregat, are also at rest inside the hallowed halls of the Barcelona Cathedral.

As you explore the cathedral, you’ll notice the various tombs and burial sites throughout its Gothic architecture, each one holding a piece of history and allowing visitors to gain a deeper understanding of Barcelona’s religious past.

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