Cathedral of Barcelona: History, Emblem, Tips, and Guides

Christian Petzold

Published December 13, 2023
Cathedral Of Barcelona

Along with the iconic Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona is also known for its historic Cathedral of Barcelona. Nestled within narrow alleyways, the Cathedral stands as a proud testament to the city’s rich history. Arriving at the Gothic Quarter, where the Cathedral of Barcelona is a central attraction, is like stepping back in time.

If you venture off the bustling Ramblas, a meandering journey through the city’s winding streets can lead you to the heart of Barcelona. 


Here, amidst the relics of ancient Barcino (Barcelona’s Roman name), emblems of the Jewish Quarter, and haunts once favored by Art Nouveau’s bohemian artists, lies the majestic Cathedral of Barcelona. 

This area, undoubtedly one of the most attractive districts in Barcelona, is anchored by the gothic gem of the Cathedral of Barcelona, a pivotal landmark in the city’s architectural and cultural landscape.

Early History Behind Cathedral of Barcelona

Barcelona Cathedral, officially known as “Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia” – is a historical cathedral with a relatively modern facade. The Cathedral you see stands on the same spot occupied by the Early Christian Cathedral in the fourth century the remains of it can be seen in the subsoil and the City History Museum. 

“The Cathedral of Barcelona is a place where the divine meets the earthly, where history and spirituality converge.”

Inside The Cathedral

The original church suffered severe damage during the invasion by the Arab war leader Almanzor back in the 10th century and later was rebuilt into a new church in the Romanesque style. In May 1298, during the reign of Jaime II of Aragon, the construction of the existing Gothic church began and continued for over 150 years.

Moreover, the facade that tourists today enjoy was built much more recently in the 19th century after remaining untouched for more than 400 years.

The Emblem of the Cathedral: The Harrowing Legend of Saint Eulalia

Since 599 AD this Cathedral of Barcelona has been dedicated to the Holy Cross. In 877, the old Christian cathedral received the relics of Saint Eulalia, patron saint of the city of Barcelona, which is concealed in the church of Santa Maria del Mar.

Because of the powerful legend surrounding this Christian martyr who died at the end of the third century, the Barcelona Cathedral has a huge number of memorabilia that is devoted to her: a door, stained glass windows, keystones, reliefs, pictures, and so on. 

The Cathedral Of Barcelona At Night 1

“Gothic cathedrals are the Bible in stone. They are a representation in the architecture of the life of humanity on Earth, a fulfillment of spiritual ideas.”

– Fyodor Dostoevsky

According to the legends, the Romans brought 13 agonies on Saint Eulalia, one for every year of her life; beating, imprisoning, torturing, and burning her breasts on a rack, as well as tossing her into a quicklime pit and flea-infested yard. 

The ninth torment is the most well-known, in which she was closed in a casket filled with shattered glass, nails, and knives and thrown down a steep street, which was known as the Baixada de Santa Eulàlia. Finally, the maiden was nailed to an x-shaped cross that you see today as the emblem of the Barcelona Cathedral.

Location, Hours, and Access

Barcelona Cathedral is located on the Pla de la Seu, in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. To reach there, take the Metro to ‘Jaume l Station’ on line 4 and walk from there. In addition, if you happen to be in this part of town, you may go there on foot.

The Cathedral of Barcelona is available to the public at the following hours:

Monday to Friday: 8:00 am to 12:30 pm and 5:45 pm to 7:30 pm.

Saturdays: 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and from 5:15 pm to 8:00 pm. 

Sunday and Holidays: 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm

The Cathedral of Barcelona is exclusively open for religious service the rest of the day. While you are welcome to attend, photography is not allowed at this time. You are expected to pray respectfully throughout this time. 

Barcelona Cathedral Interior

Mass Times:

Monday to Friday: 9:00 pm to 12:00 pm, and 7:00 pm 

Saturdays: 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Sundays & Holidays: 9:00 am, 10:30 am, 12:00 am, 13:00 am, 6:00 pm, 7:00 pm

All masses are in Catalan or Spanish.

While there are no days when the building is officially closed, it is essential to check their website calendar for current visiting hours if you are going on a trip.


Admission Fees 

Access to the Cathedral of Barcelona’s central nave and cloisters is free. However, there are fees for specific areas: the Choir costs €3, and the Terraces and lift are also €3 each. A combined ticket that includes these and the Sala Capitular Museum within the Cathedral of Barcelona is available for €7.

Gothic Quarter

Don’t miss the stunning views from the Cathedral of Barcelona’s terrace. Remember, the terrace closes 30 minutes before the rest of the cathedral, so plan accordingly, especially if you’ve pre-purchased a ticket. Outside peak tourist season, tickets can usually be bought upon entry to the Cathedral of Barcelona.

Delving Deep into the Icons of Central Barcelona

Barcelona is not only a city celebrated for its vibrant culture and mesmerizing beauty but also a treasure trove of history. As you navigate the narrow streets of central Barcelona, especially the ancient “barri gotic”, or Gothic Quarter, it’s hard to miss the city’s architectural jewels, notably the Barcelona cathedral, commonly referred to as “la seu”.

The Majestic Barcelona Cathedral (La Seu)

Constructed mainly during the 15th century, this Gothic Cathedral stands as a testament to the architectural prowess of the past. Yet, it wasn’t the first religious building to grace this site; before the Gothic Cathedral, there stood a Romanesque cathedral that echoed a simpler design and aesthetic. But as Gothic architecture took hold, with its emphasis on verticality, pointed arches, and intricate details, the cathedral was reborn into what we see today.

Inside, the cloister offers tranquility, accompanied by a chorus of geese, while the bell tower gives visitors panoramic views of the city, from the bustling la Rambla (or Las Ramblas) to the distant peaks surrounding the region.


The Saints of Barcelona

The cathedral is also named after Santa Eulalia or St Eulalia, the co-patron saint of Barcelona. Legend has it that she suffered martyrdom during Roman times, with stories recounting her being subjected to various tortures, making her a revered figure in the city’s lore.

“The Cathedral of Barcelona is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, a testament to the city’s rich history and spiritual heritage.”

Other saints like Saint Ivo, Saint George, Saint Raymond, and Saint Olegarius also hold places of honor within the cathedral’s vast interiors. Each with their own stories, these figures contribute to the rich tapestry of Barcelona’s religious history.

Sagrada Familia: Gaudi’s Masterpiece

While the cathedral is a paragon of Gothic design, another church takes center stage when talking about architectural marvels in Barcelona – the Sagrada Familia or la Sagrada Familia. This basilica, designed by the legendary Antoni Gaudi, incorporates both Gothic architecture and Gothic revival elements while blending them with Gaudi’s unique modernist style. Unlike anything else in the world, this structure, still under construction, draws countless visitors annually.

Vibrant Streets and Landmarks

Close to the cathedral, la Rambla, more commonly known to tourists as las Ramblas, stands as one of the most iconic streets in Barcelona. Lined with shops, cafes, and the pulse of the city’s life, it’s a microcosm of Barcelona’s spirit.

Additionally, the old city or the old city region houses various Barcelona churches, each with its unique tale and design. Among them, the church of Santa llúcia, closely associated with the Corpus Christi festival, and the church dedicated to the holy Christ draw considerable attention.

For those with a love for modernist design, Casa Batlló by Gaudi offers a stark contrast to the Gothic marvels but is equally compelling.

Celebrations and Traditions

The cathedral museum is a treasure house for those keen on understanding the historical and religious significance of artifacts from bygone eras. Festivals like the one for Santa Llúcia, showcase the region’s rich traditions, while the celebration of the holy sacrament emphasizes the deep-rooted faith of the locals.

Barcelona’s heart, particularly in central Barcelona, is alive with stories of saints like Saint Eulalia (or St Eulalia), and architectural marvels that have been shaped, among others, by personalities like Antoni Gaudi and Manuel Girona. From the towering spires of la Sagrada Familia to the resonating bells of the Catedral de Barcelona, the city is an embodiment of faith, history, and unparalleled architectural beauty. As you walk its streets, it’s clear that Barcelona’s legacy, from the Virgin Mary to the very stones that pave the streets of the barri gotic, is a testament to the city’s enduring spirit.

Gothic Quarter Festival

Useful tips

  • Keep in mind that security may inspect things before allowing you entry.
  • Citizens and tourists are requested to dress appropriately. In this case, appropriate dress means clothing that covers the thighs and shoulders. Otherwise, you can’t enter if you do not comply with this policy. 
  • Go up to the roof of the Cathedral for scenic views of Barcelona. For the best views, go between 10, and 11 am when there are few tourists.
  • There is a specific slot in the sarcophagus containing St. Eulalia’s relics where you may place a coin — the sarcophagus is illuminated with lovely lights.
  • Every month, the Cathedral of Barcelona holds organ performances. But to be able to attend, make sure to schedule in advance. 
  • If you’re in the Gothic Quarter and walking to the Barcelona Cathedral, make sure to take a map with you because you can easily get lost in the old part of Barcelona.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


The Cathedral of Barcelona, officially known as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, is a stunning Gothic cathedral in the heart of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. It dates back to the 13th century and is dedicated to Saint Eulalia, the city’s co-patron saint. The cathedral is known for its impressive architecture, beautiful cloisters, and the crypt where Saint Eulalia’s remains are housed. Visitors can also enjoy panoramic views of Barcelona from the cathedral’s rooftop. It’s a must-visit historic and religious site in the city.

Did you know?

A fascinating fun fact about the Cathedral of Barcelona is that it houses a colony of geese within its cloisters. The Cathedral’s cloister is home to thirteen white geese, and they have a special historical significance.

The geese are said to represent the age of Saint Eulalia, the patron saint of Barcelona, who, according to legend, was martyred at the age of thirteen. The number thirteen is considered lucky in this context, and the geese are a unique and charming feature of the Cathedral’s cloisters. Visitors can see these geese while exploring the cloister, adding a touch of quirkiness to the Cathedral’s rich history and architecture.


So that’s it! Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed going through this article as much as you will when visiting this gothic gem. We hope this can save you some time when planning your next trip to Barcelona! 

By the way, if you are planning to travel to Barcelona, be sure to check out our articles on the best attractions and the best activities in Barcelona. We’ve listed some below.

Let us know if there are any questions or comments you have regarding this article or anything else. You can always find us on Facebook or Instagram or by leaving a comment below Happy traveling! 

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