The cathedral is one of the most beautiful gothic buildings in town, no doubt about that. It is located in plaça de la Seu, where there is still part of the Roman fortress of the city that remains, there is also a big square where events are organized. If you visit the cathedral at the weekend normally on Saturdays at 18:30 and Sundays at 12:00 you will see people dancing sardanas -a traditional dance in a circle-.
I would recommend you to see it on daylight but also at night as illuminated is magnificent. Let's do a bit of history tour, the construction of the building was in 11th century and then it was renovated with a neo-gothic façade in 1890. The church houses 29 chapels, and 10 of those are around the apse of the altar.
The Cathedral is dedicated to Santa Eulàlia Martyr, the second patron saint of Barcelona. Eulàlia was tortured to death in the Roman period and the body of her is buried under the high altar. Her feast day is celebrated on 12th February and the city celebrates greatly that date with activities and the so-called Festes de Santa Eulàlia.
Cloister of Barcelona Cathedral
The cathedral cloister is a bit of a special thing and deserves and explanation. The cloister has small chapels, gardens, fountains and anything that a normal cloister would have, but the truth is that it also has geese cackling on the inside.
Yes, you read it well, geese inside the church, the objective to have them there was to warn against intruders and thieves, and I am sure they fulfill their task. There are thirteen geese as many as the years of Eulàlia when she was martyrized. From the cloister, you can reach a small museum that represents Saint Eulàlia and shows valuable items found in the cathedral.
You can get to the roof of the cathedral with the elevator and I recommend you to check out the Sala capitular where you can see the amazing paintings in the ceiling.
Please please please, do not confuse Barcelona Cathedral with Sagrada Familia, is not the same folks! Sometimes I have seen in websites Sagrada Familia called the Cathedral but is actually not, it is a giant Basilica by Gaudí but never called a cathedral.
The cathedral's organ
The organ accompanies the celebrations, and it is one of highest importance since it was built in XVI century nd the windchest covers are decorated with grisailles by Pedro Pablo Serafín "the Greek". The covers for the main organ are on display in the exhibition hall of the church of Saint Severus (at Carrer Sant Sever, 9) and in the Chapterhouse Museum, in the Cloister of the Cathedral.
Important festivities in the Cathedral
As mentioned, since it was built in honor of Santa Eulàlia, the festivities of the Saint Patron are the most important event of the year in the cathedral in February.
Two other important events are the Corpus Christi, the celebration focused on the body and the blood of Christ and there is a mass by the archbishop.
Corpus Christi day, is 60 days after Easter Sunday, so it is different every year. Corpus Christi always falls on a Thursday though, and you can enjoy the festival from the Thursday of Corpus Christi itself to the following Sunday.
Every year on Corpus Christi Day there is an interesting tradition that I explain you below that is called l'Ou com balla, literally means the Dancing Egg. And it is actually that, an egg dancing on the top of the water of a fountain. For this celebration, the water in the fountains is often given a special colour, in order to add to the effect, as well as being decorated with flowers and seasonal fruits.
L'Ou com balla
L´Ou com balla the festivity is the one I like the most, is a tradition that consists of making an egg dance into the fountain of the cloister, the egg is placed right in the water stream and with the pressure keeps dancing on the top and it has been done yearly since 1636.
You might be thinking how is it possible that the egg dances on the top of the fountain, there is a trick but I would recommend you to go and watch the egg show. The egg is drained and sealed with wax to cover the hole that was done, after that process it is placed on the top of the spout of the fountain, and it looks like the egg is actually dancing.
Places where you can see the Ou Com balla, check them out located in a map:
CLOISTER BARCELONA CATHEDRAL: carrer (street) del Bisbe
GARDENS FREDERIC MARÈS MUSEUM: plaça (square) Sant Iu, 5
CASA DE L’ARDIACA: carrer (street) Santa Llúcia, 1
CLOISTER CHURCH SANTA ANNA: carrer Santa Anna, 29
CLOISTER BASÍLICA PURÍSSIMA CONCEPCIÓ: carrer (street) Aragó, 299
PARISH CHURCH SANT JERONI MONTBAU: plaça (square) Mossen Ferrán Paláu, 3
GARDENS ATENEU BARCELONÉS: carrer (street) de la Canuda, 6
CLOISTER PEDRALBES MONASTERY: Baixada del Monestir, 9
- WORKSHOP ‘SANT CAMIL’ SCHOOL: carrer (street) Ercilla, 57
In 2016 Corpus Christi falls on Thursday 26th May, and you will be able to see l’Ou com Balla in the spaces listed above between the 26th itself and Sunday 29th May. There might be some places that the tradition can only be seen on the 4th June. Find the 2016 Corpus Cristi program for more detail.
Tips for the visit of the cathedral
You can visit the cathedral without paying admission (hours, see above). But in the paid admission, however, the chorus, the visit of the roof and the museum is included, something to take into account. Check out closely the opening times to make sure you go into a free time slot or a paying one depending on what you wish to visit.
Opening timesDaily 08.45 - 19.30 (admission see below)
08.45 - 12.45: free admission
13.00 - 17.00: €6.00
17.15 - 19.30: ´free admission
During the time without Admission fee:
Choir: €2.80 Roof: €2.80
Disclaimer: Ou com Balla picture by Roger Ferrer