Sights to See in Barcelona - La Seu
(Cathedral of Barcelona)
In the center of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, Barri Gotic, is what has to be one of the most outstanding examples of medieval architecture in Europe: La Seu. Officially known as Cathedral de
la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia.
The fact that it is a cathedral is perhaps not strange, as the site has
housed many religious structures over the centuries. In 343 A.D. a
Roman basilica dominated the site, but was later destroyed by Moors in
985 A.D. A Romanesque
cathedral was completed here in 1058 A.D., which, some three hundred
years later, became part of La Seu.
Originally begun during the rule of King Jaume II, construction
proceeded slowly as a result of civil wars, epidemics and the many
other ills that plagued Europe during the period. Construction
continued as late as the 19th century, which gave the building its
current facade. But the final result outshone the difficulties which
attended its birth.
Over 300ft/90m long with a central spire reaching 230ft/70m high, it is
one of the largest religious structures in Europe. But its size is the
not primary source of the building's magnificent style. The octagonal
clock towers, built between 1386 and 1393, are just one tribute to the
architects' genius. There are many others.
The arched entrance is a set of concentric curves set within one
another, giving the structure a look that is unusual even among Gothic
churches. Though the motif is used elsewhere, it is seldom done with
such care and grace.
As you can imagine, the interior of Le Seu is equally impressive.
On first entering the visitor is struck by the amazing wood carvings on
every wall. A side chapel holds a cross removed from a galleon that
participated in the Battle
of Lepanto in 1571. The Christ figure on the cross is
bending to the right. According to a Spanish legend the motion was to
avoid a cannonball fired during the conflict. Other chapels within the
cathedral house equally fantastic and interesting stories.
de Sant Benet behind the altar houses a crucifix from the
15th century. It is not immediately visible to the casual observer, but
those who want to see everything will seek it out. Their effort will be
Beneath the altar is the crypt alleged to hold the body of St. Eulalia, the 13
year-old martyr who eventually became the patron saint of Barcelona.
Since the legend has it that she was slain in a square during Roman
times by being rolled in a barrel stuck full of knives, it's unlikely
the sarcophagus within the crypt contains much. Other versions,
however, have her being burned at the stake for her Christian beliefs,
which was not a common practice during Roman times. As with most such
legends, the story is often more important than the facts.
In her honor the courtyard in the cloister next door is always stocked
with 13 white geese who have a small pool to glide across. They occupy
a lovely, quiet patio with lush greenery and an even lovelier fountain.
It is one of the few places in the bustling Barri Gotic that is as
quiet as a church, as the saying goes.
Be sure not to leave without visiting the roof for a spectacular view
of Barri Gotic and surrounding Barcelona. To arrive, take the metro to Jaume I
More to See in Barcelona