Built from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia is a major attraction in Barcelona. It is located in the Gothic Quarter and is referred to as ‘La Seu’ by the locals, which is Catalan for the seat. Featuring Gothic-style architecture, the Barcelona Cathedral is also the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona.
One of the top Barcelona Cathedral facts is that its real name is not Barcelona Cathedral. The actual name of this church is the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia but it is prominently known as the Barcelona Cathedral. It is also interesting to know that many locals call Barcelona cathedral La Seu. The Catalan word seu means seat and refers to this cathedral because it is the seat of the diocese.
As the name Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia suggests, this cathedral pays homage to the co-patron saint of Barcelona, Eulalia. She was a 13-year-old who was tortured and martyred in the 4th century for not giving up her Christianity. Several other Christians died with her under Roman empire rule. According to a story, she was persecuted naked in the public square but a snowstorm covered up her body. In 633 CE, Eulalia was canonized and her remains were later shifted to the Barcelona Cathedral.
Another one of the top Barcelona cathedral facts is that the cloisters here are home to unusual inhabitants. The cloister is an open-air garden where you can see 13 geese roaming around. They often take a bath in the fountain named Font de les Oques. You will always find 13 geese here as this indicates the age of Eulalia at her death.
Barcelona Cathedral took around two centuries to be built spanning from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries. The first stone for the cathedral was laid down on 1st May 1298 under James II the Just, then King of Aragon and the Count of Barcelona. The cathedral was consecrated in 1339 but the main structure and the façade were completed in 1417. However, it took a total of 150 years to complete the cathedral as the cloisters were completed only in 1448.
The roof of the Barcelona Cathedral is known for its gargoyles. The gargoyles were added on to avoid rainwater running down the masonry. They do appear slightly scary on close inspection. You will see sculptures of various Saints and Biblical figures as well as a wide variety of animals and mythical creatures on the roof. Of course, it is also known for the spectacular views of Barcelona offers.
Barcelona Cathedral has a chapel or chapter house named Chapel of Lepanto that was built in 1407. This chapel has a mythical crucifix known as the Holy Christ of Lepanto. The crucifix is famous due to its slanted shape that is said to have occurred on a royal ship that was fired using a cannonball. According to the legend, the crucifix leaned to a side to miss the cannonball. This is why it has a slanted shape now.
One of the most interesting local traditions of Barcelona is that of the ‘Dancing Egg’ on Corpus Christi. On this day, you would see eggs placed on the top of the 12 fountains in Barcelona. The jet of water from these fountains makes it look as if the egg is dancing. It is believed that this tradition began in the Barcelona cathedral. Dating back to the 17th century, this local tradition represents the life cycle of Christ.
Catedral de Barcelona is the most important church in Barcelona. It’s true that Sagrada Familia church is the famous and most-visited church, but it is not the important one. That church was consecrated in 2010 and declared as a minor basilica. On the other hand, Barcelona Cathedral was consecrated in 1339. Also, it happens to be the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona, making it the most important church in the city.
One of the most amazing Barcelona cathedral facts is that Saint Eulalia is not the only one buried here. There is a side chapel called Chapel of the Holy Sacrament that houses the tomb of Saint Olegarius, the Bishop of Barcelona in the early 12th century. Apart from these two, Saint Raymond of Penyafort is also buried at the Cathedral. It is a tradition to light a candle at the shrines of these saints and say a prayer. In the present day, traditional candles have been replaced with electronic ones to ensure the safety of the cathedral.
In the Cathedral there are 21 bells. Some of these have been retired due to their antiquity. The oldest bell in the Cathedral, L’Esquella de Prima hailing from 1321, is also one of the oldest bells in Catalunya. The youngest bell, on the other hand, was created in 1998. The largest bell is the enormous Eulàlia, and it weighs over three tons.
At the end of the 18th century, two towers were constructed, according to the Gothic design, at opposite ends of the arms of the cross, the transepts. The octagonal towers are 53-metres tall and have separate bell-ringing duties. One of the towers calls out the time, the Eulàlia rings in the hours and the Honarata marks the quarter hours. The other tower is responsible for ringing the ecclesiastic hours; it contains 10 bells.