Located in the bustling heart of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, Barcelona Cathedral is an oasis of calm. It provides welcome relief from the packed street side cafés and stores of the city centre. It houses many beautiful treasures and surprises, so whether you want a quick break from shopping or a cultural experience, Barcelona Cathedral is well worth a visit.
Situated on Pla de la Seu, the magnificent main façade is the first thing that greets you. This highly decorated front is a 19th Century addition that followed the original Gothic plans. Stop to take a look and take some snaps of the 75 figures carved in stone. Then head through the main door, which has a stone sculpture of Christ keeping watch, and prepare to be awed by the interior.
Inside, you’ll find chapels dedicated to more than 140 saints. Your eyes will be drawn to the ceilings, which reach an impressive 25 metres in height. Look out for the crucifix of Sant Crist de Lepant, and the wooden coffins of Count Berenguer and his wife. Then, from the main altar, walk down the staircase to see the tomb of Santa Eulàlia, the patron saint of Barcelona.
Something else you must see inside the cathedral is the choir. You’ll need to part with a few Euros to go in, but the wooden pulpit, which dates back to 1403, is a real highlight. The stalls are some of the best examples of Catalan Gothic sculpture.
Head into the cloister and you may be in for a bit of a surprise. One of the last things you might expect to see in a cathedral in the centre of a city is geese. But here you’ll find a beautiful flock of 13 white geese guarding the cloister gardens. The pretty gardens are planted with palm trees, magnolias, and an orange tree. There’s also a 15th century fountain as well as a large pond for the geese to swim in. The green leaves and sound of water provide a cooling retreat from the heat of the city, and it’s a lovely spot to sit and think.
A birds-eye-view of Barcelona
Climbing up onto the roof of Barcelona Cathedral will give you a new perspective of the city. The cathedral’s central location means there are spectacular views in all directions of the city, harbour and out to sea. It’s also a chance to get a closer look at the gargoyles. Luckily, there’s a lift to take you to the top, which you’ll find located in one of the chapels of the ambulatory.
Visiting Barcelona Cathedral
Barcelona Cathedral is an active place of worship. On weekdays it is open for worship and prayer only in the mornings, with tourists invited to explore in the afternoons. On weekends and special festive days, the hours when tourists may visit are limited further. However, the roof terrace is accessible to visitors throughout the day.
Barcelona Cathedral tickets
Entry to Barcelona Cathedral is free for worship and prayer. However, if you’d like to go up onto the roof you’ll need a ticket. Entry during tourist times is by a ‘donation’, although it is mandatory in reality. You can’t buy your tickets online in advance, but any queues are normally very small.
Remember, this cathedral has a strict dress code. Shoulders and knees should be covered and of course, no bare midriffs. Caps and headwear should also be removed on entering.
To make the most of your visit to Barcelona Cathedral you could join a guided tour. For a small fee, you’ll be guided around the building, and gain access to the roof, cathedral museum, and the choir.
Getting to Barcelona Cathedral
The cathedral is in the centre of the city. The closest Metro stop in Jaume 1 and the hop-on-hop-off tourist bus stops nearby. If you’re shopping on La Rambla, it’s just a seven-minute stroll away.
Barcelona Cathedral or Sagrada Família, Gaudi’s Cathedral Barcelona?
Barcelona Cathedral is the main cathedral in the city and should not be confused with the modern Sagrada Família. Known by many as Gaudi’s Cathedral in Barcelona, the Sagrada Família is in fact a ‘minor basilica’ and it is still undergoing construction. By contrast, Barcelona Cathedral is a traditional cathedral dating back to 1298, and has been welcoming worshippers for hundreds of years.
Traditional Catalan dance
If you’re here for a weekend city break, head to the square outside the cathedral for a traditional slice of Catalan life. Each Saturday evening and Sunday lunchtime, local dancers gather to perform the ‘Sardana’, a traditional Catalan circle dance.