Lonely Planet review for Catedral
You can reach Barcelona’s Catedral, one of its most magnificent Gothic structures, by following Carrer del Bisbe northwest from Plaça de Sant Jaume. The narrow old streets around the cathedral are traffic-free and dotted with occasionally very talented buskers.
The best view of the cathedral is from Plaça de la Seu beneath its main northwest facade. Unlike most of the building, which dates from between 1298 and 1460, this facade was not created until the 1870s. They say it is based on a 1408 design and it is odd in that it reflects northern-European Gothic styles rather than the sparer, Catalan version.
The interior of the cathedral is a broad, soaring space. It is divided into a central nave and two aisles by lines of elegant, thin pillars.
In the first chapel, on the right from the northwest entrance, the main crucifixion figure above the altar is Sant Crist de Lepant, which was carried on the prow of the Spanish flagship at the Battle of Lepanto against the Turks in 1571. It is said the figure acquired its odd stance by dodging an incoming cannonball. Further down along this same wall, past the southwest transept, are the wooden coffins of Count Ramon Berenguer I and his wife Almodis, cofounders of the 11th-century Romanesque predecessor to the present cathedral.
Smack in the middle of the central nave is the exquisitely sculpted, late 14th-century timber coro. The coats of arms belong to members of the Barcelona chapter of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
The crypt beneath the main altar contains the remarkable alabaster tomb of Santa Eulàlia, one of Barcelona’s patron saints and a good Christian lass of the 4th century, who suffered terrible tortures and death at the hands of the pagan Romans (or so the story goes). Some of those gruesome tortures are depicted on the tomb.
For a bird’s-eye (mind the poop) view of medieval Barcelona, visit the cathedral’s roof and tower by a lift from the Capella de les Animes del Purgatori, near the northeast transept.
From the southwest transept, exit to the lovely claustre (cloister), with its trees, fountains and geese (there have been geese here for centuries). One of the cloister chapels commemorates 930 priests, monks and nuns martyred in the civil war.
Along the northern flank of the cloister is the Sala Capitular. Bathed in the rich reds of the carpet and cosseted by fine wooden seating, its rooms contain some artworks of minor interest. Among them is a Pietat by Bartolomeo Bermejo.
You can visit the cathedral in one of two ways. In the morning or the late afternoon, entrance is free and you can pay to visit any combination you choose of the choir stalls, chapter house and roof. If you want to visit all three, it costs less (€5) and is less crowded to enter for the so-called ‘special visit’ between 1pm and 5pm.