Cathedral of Santa Eulalia history
Cathedral of Santa Eulalia is one of Barcelona’s largest religious buildings. The cathedral is also known as La Seu Cathedral based on its location in front of Plaça de la Seu. The site of the cathedral has long been a place for worship, as the first basilica was built already during the Roman occupation in year 343 A.D. This basilica was later burned and destroyed during a Moor invasion, but it didn’t take long until a cathedral was built in its place.
The construction of the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia started in the late 13th century, when the existing cathedral was demolished. The old cathedral included a chapel, known as the Capella de Santa Llucia, which was actually kept and incorporated into the cathedral of today.
Due to civil wars and the Black Death, which hit the city several times, the construction of the cathedral progressed rather slowly. The main building wasn’t completed until 160 years later. The massive façade didn’t stand complete until year 1889. The last part, the 70 meters high central spire, was completed as late as in 1913.
Even though some parts of the cathedral were built rather recently, the design of both the facade and the spire were based on the original cathedral design.
The cathedral is built as a typical Gothic cathedral. The most evident part of this is the magnificent façade. By taking a closer look at the façade, visitors will see that its spires, pinnacles and arches all are pointing upwards.
This typical Gothic feature was a way of trying to reach up to heaven and connect the cathedral with God. The cathedral’s main entrance is dominated by a statue of Jesus, surrounded by the apostles.
Why visit Cathedral of Santa Eulalia ?
The cathedral is one of the most stunning buildings in Barcelona. However, while the exterior of the cathedral is absolutely beautiful, the same is very much true for its interior. The interior consists of one wide nave with more then 20 side chapels, each one dedicated to a specific saint or a catholic event. One of the more well known chapels can be found to the right, just as one enters the cathedral.
It is known as “Capella del Sant Crist de Lepant” and depicts the figure of Christ crucified. The statue was taken aboard on one of the Christian galleys who fought in the sea Battle of Lapanto in 1571.
When looking at the statue, visitors will see that Jesus has a rather strange, tilting pose. The legend has it that this pose was created when the figure of Christ slightly shifted to the right during the battle to dodge an incoming cannonball.
The cathedral has gotten its name from the co-patron saint of Barcelona, Santa Eulalia. According to the Catholic tradition, Eulalia was a young virgin who suffered martyrdom during Roman times in Barcelona. She was killed at the age of 13 for refusing to dismiss Jesus as the son of God. In front of the altar, visitors can find stairs leading down to the cathedral crypt. Inside this crypt lies the actual, beautiful sarcophagus of Eulalia.
This site has more to offer than the cathedral itself. Adjacent to it lays a 14th century cloister, which is what many people rate as the best part of their cathedral visit. The charming cloister courtyard is a lush garden where one can find different types of trees and a small statue of a mounted Saint George, the other patron saint of Barcelona.
Also located in the courtyard is a small mossy pond known as the Well of the Geese. The name originates from the fact that it houses a flock of white geese, whose ancestors have been living in the courtyard ever since its creation. The flock consists of thirteen geese, each one representing a year in Santa Eulalia’s short life. The courtyard has, quite fittingly, been called the “loveliest oasis in Barcelona”.
To the top
What some people don’t know is that it is possible to take a lift to the roof of the cathedral. Up there, special made walkways allows visitors to wander around while at the same time enjoying a great view over Gothic Barcelona.
While Antonio Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia may be Barcelona's most famous landmark - and rightfully so - the Santa Eulalia still holds it own as one of the most impressive cathedrals in Spain.
Cathedral of Santa Eulalia location
The Cathedral of Santa Eulalia is located in central Barcelona, in eastern Spain. The building can be found in front of Plaça de la Seu in central parts of the city. For the exact location of Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, check out the location map to the right.