Ash
Written by Ash

The Barcelona Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter (La Seu)

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First off let’s make sure you’re not confusing the Barcelona Cathedral with its more famous, spiky counterpart the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia – Europe’s most unique and fascinating church.

Sure, the cathedral in the Gothic Quarter may not be as sexy a choice but it certainly warrants a visit.

Visiting the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia gives you a greater understanding of Barcelona’s history via some pretty bad-ass Gothic styling… and it’s free as well.

Here’s all you need to know.

Index

1 – Sagrada Familia or Barcelona Cathedral?
2 – History and facts
3 – What to See
4 – Prices and opening hours + free visit times
5 – Dress codes
6 – How to get there
7 – What to do in the area
8 – Barcelona Cathedral hacks

Sagrada Familia or Barcelona Cathedral?

What is the cathedral in Barcelona called?

Again, many people make this mistake so don’t feel bad.

The architectural giant and saw-like super structure that you see on all the postcards is Antoni Gaudi‘s Sagrada Familia. And the Sagrada Familia isn’t a cathedral (the seat of a bishop) at all.

In all its greatness it’s actually a minor basilica.

If I had to tell you to visit only one thing in any Barcelona itinerary it would be this… a minor basilica. So if you’re looking for that please check out my article on La Sagrada Familia.

Those looking for the famous cathedral in the Gothic Quarter? Let’s begin.

Barcelona Cathedral History + Facts

  • A massive Gothic Revival Church.
  • Broke ground in 1298.
  • Finished in 1420 (facade and central tower completed in 1913).
  • Famous for its gargoyles, other mythical animals, and resident geese.
  • Measures 90 meters (300 feet) long by 53 meters (174 feet) high.
  • Dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona (co-patron saint of Barcelona).

What to See at the Barcelona Cathedral

The Facade

It’s impossible to miss the stunning facade walking through Cathedral Square (Pla Seu).

You’ll be drawn to the main door and the huge Gothic arch above. A stone sculpture of Christ keeps watch over the entrance while the 12 apostles occupy either side of the doors. In all you’ll find 75 figures and 8 stained-glass windows that run the gamut from Renaissance to Modernist.

You’ll see two side towers (constructed between 1896-1898) flanking the dome of the church which is crowned with a statue of Saint Helen.

The Door of Sant Ivo (on the left hand side of the church when in the main square) was the church’s main entrance for over 500 years. It was made using marble from Montjuic. Look for inscriptions here marking the commencement of construction in 1298.

Inside

At the Barcelona Cathedral you’ll find monuments and chapels dedicated to more than 140 saints.

Aside from the highly-represented Virgin Mary you’ll find heavy attention paid to Santa Eulalia, a local girl martyred in Barcelona during Roman times who became co-patron saint of the city. You’ll find the Crypt of Santa Eulalia in front of the main alter.

One of the most impactful features of the interior is the choir. One of the best examples of Catalan Gothic sculpture can be found in its stalls. The wooden pulpit carved by Pedro Çanglada in 1403 is a highlight.

Tickets for the choir are €3.00.

The Chapter Hall Museum used to be a soup kitchen for the poor. Today it’s home to some pretty cool items like the baptismal font of the original 11th century Gothic cathedral.

Lepanto’s Chapel is decorated with paintings honoring Santa Eulalia and pays homage to a crucial naval battle where the Holy League defeated the Ottoman Empire. It’s here where visitors can pray in silence.

The Cloister

This secluded inner courtyard is probably the most popular part of the cathedral.

You enter the cloister via a white marble door which is said to be a leftover from the original Romanesque cathedral built on the site in 1046.

The rectangular cloister made up of four galleries show pillars depicting scenes from the Old Testament while the vault keystones show scenes from the New Testament.

The central garden is filled with palm trees, an orange tree, magnolias, and a 15th century fountain. It’s also the site of the pond where 13 white geese reside – representing the 13 years of life of Santa Eulalia.

The Roof

An absolute must for those visiting the Barcelona Cathedral is taking the elevator to the roof.

From here you get a spectacular 360-degree views of the city. There’s also a closer look at the bell tower and the legendary gargoyles. The fresh air is a great relief in spring and summer, though some would rather spend the money at the city’s best rooftop bars.

Roof access is from one of the chapels on the left hand side of the church – just follow the signs.

Tickets for roof access are €3.00.

a tourist holds 3 barcelona discount passes in front of the arc de triomf in barcelona spain a tourist holds 3 barcelona discount passes in front of the arc de triomf in barcelona spain
City Pass, Hola Bcn, or Barcelona Card?

Barcelona Cathedral Prices and Opening Hours

Free Entry (For Worship and Prayer)

The Barcelona Cathedral is free to enter without tickets during the following times:

  • Weekdays: 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and 5:45 pm to 7:30 pm.
  • Saturdays: 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and 5:15 pm to 8:00 pm.
  • Sundays/holidays: 8:30 am to 1:45 pm and 5:15 pm to 8:00 pm.

With your free entrance you’re given access to the cathedral floor and the cloister – the inner courtyard/garden home to the famous 13 white geese. Again, this is supposed to be for worship and prayer so I advise caution on going in just to snap photos.

During free entry times you’ll need to pay €3.00 to access the roof or choir (€6.00 for both).

The cloister typically closes 15-30 minutes before so leave plenty of time.

Children under five go free on the rooftop and choir.

Doors close five minutes before closing time.

Barcelona Cathedral Tickets (Tourism)

Paid entry at the Cathedral is done by ‘donation’ though the €7.00 is absolutely mandatory. You can now reserve your tickets in advance online.

The paid hours run at peak times and are designed to raise money for the church, offer visitors a more intimate look at the cathedral without massive crowds, and tickets give access to parts not normally reserved for the public.

  • Weekdays: 12:30 pm to 7:45 pm (last entrance 7:15).
  • Saturdays: 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm (last entrance 4:45).
  • Sundays/holidays: 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm (last entrance 4:45).

With paid entry you get access to the cathedral floor, cloister, choir, roof, Chapter Hall Museum, and Lepanto’s chapel – plus a free brochure filled with a ton of information.

Unlike many Barcelona attraction tickets that can be bought online the cathedral is strictly walk up – expect to wait no longer than about 15 minutes at peak times.

I’m also told they are not very handy with giving change so try to bring exact change if possible.

sagrada familia passion façade under construction sagrada familia passion façade under construction
Saving 20% on attractions is just the beginning!

Dress Codes

It’s so darn old we can’t fault the Barcelona Cathedral for being a bit traditional on dress.

Make sure you enter with your shoulders covered and dresses/shorts/skirts at knee length. You’ll also have to remove any caps or head wear of any sort to get in.

If you don’t want to go all the way back to the hotel or Airbnb there’s a woman selling shawls for a couple of euro right outside the entrance – just make sure your shorts are long enough or you’re not getting in anyway.

As usual no tank tops, muscle shirts, food, flash photography, or cell phones not on silent.

Mass Times

If you’re planning on attending mass at the cathedral in Barcelona please realise that they are conducted only in Spanish and Catalan.

There are five daily masses during the week at the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament while weekend masses vary – please consult the Catedral de Barcelona mass schedule to find the perfect time.

How to Get to the Barcelona Cathedral

The Catedral de Barcelona is right in the heart of the Gothic Quarter at Pla Seu, 3.

It’s about 150 meters from Jaume I metro station (yellow line L4) and about 350 meters from Liceu metro station (green line L3) and the chaos of La Rambla.

Expect about a 3-8 minute walk from either station.

It’s also a 2 minute walk from the Barri Gotic stop on the red line of the Bus Turistic.

What to Do in the Area

With the cathedral in Barcelona being so central you’ll have virtually unlimited options.

I strongly recommend planning your visit as part of the Secrets of the Old City tour with our local American guide Alvaro.

The tour actually ends with the Barcelona Cathedral, meaning you’ll be going into your visit armed with all sorts of knowledge on the city’s history, street art, political situation, and much more.

You’ll get more info on the tour clicking the banner below:

At 1 Carrer del Bisbe one you’ll find one of the most photographed things in the city: Pont del Bisbe (‘Bishop’s Bridge). This neo-Gothic bridge unites the Palau de la Generalitat (home of the Catalan government) with the Casa dels Canonges (‘Canon House’).

Legend has it that architect Joan Rubió i Bellver was so disappointed the city wouldn’t approve some of his other projects that he placed a skull and dagger on the bridge in protest – try and find it!

Equally macabre is nearby Plaça San Felip Neri. It was in this hidden square in 1938 that 42 people (mostly children) lost their lives during a bombing in the Spanish Civil War.

Today you’ll find a small fountain and a haunting quiet.

For something a little more upbeat there’s always the super-cool Catalan Music Palace.

Tourists also won’t want to miss the Picasso Museum.

Barcelona Cathedral Hacks

  • Go really early or really late for smaller crowds.
  • Leave about an hour for the visit.
  • The Barcelona cathedral facade faces north-west so photos are best taken in late afternoon.
  • Getting to the rooftop for noon treats you to some amazing bells.
  • Especially during free entrance periods, use the side entrance for shorter lines.
  • Wander around nearby back alleys for some great guitar or opera performances.
  • People with reduced mobility get access via the Carrer del Bisbe entrance.
  • Women wanting to wear dresses but stay cool otherwise: pack leggings and put them on just before visiting.
  • There’s a free performance of La Sardana (a traditional Catalan dance) every Sunday from 11:45 to 1:00 in cathedral square.
  • For further information the cathedral website can be found here.

Get Your Holiday in Motion in the Comments Below

If you’re still starving for Barcelona Cathedral information then make sure you harass me in the comments below – I’m always looking to improve the blog so if anything is missing please let me know.

Also know that any question you have about your Barcelona holiday will be answered ASAP.

Happy travels 🙂

15 comments
  • October 20, 2019 at 6:01 pm
    Mariya
    Sorry, can you make an update on your website that if you come at 17:15 you will only be allowed to see the geese an the inner courtyard. I mean you won't be allowed to enter the cathedral. If only we knew it we would've planned our trip differently.
    • October 21, 2019 at 10:36 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Mariya, Thanks for this info! This must be a new policy... I will research it an update the post accordingly, thanks :) Ash
  • September 25, 2019 at 1:26 pm
    Sandi Lee
    Hi, For those that are trying to see the Cathedral for free, it is not easy. I live in the city (I'm an expat from the US) and have resident I.D. I approached the man at the entrance and showed him my I.D. and asked to enter. He kept questioning me (in Spanish) if I was visiting or there for prayer. I told I was there for prayer (in Spanish) and he finally let me in. (It took three times of questioning to finally let me in) In reality I was there to visit and admire the church but I wasn't going to take any photos. The free time mentioned in this article is during mass time and there is mass going, however they have the worshipers roped off in a smaller private setting. It makes it easy to walk around and take in the beauty of the church all while the sounds of mass/singing/organ music surround you. He allowed me in but there is security walking all around discouraging other people that managed to also get inside from taking photos. They really have the inside of the Cathedral roped off too. You don't have access to a lot of the areas and the cloister is closed off from the inside (you have to go out and around the building to get to it during this time). You may have better luck if you show up a few minutes before mass starts, be dressed up, and just try to blend into the worshipers entering the church. You can duck off to the right hand side chapel and wait for everyone else to go into their worship area and start mass before you walk around. But don't expect to be able to take photos without being scolded.
    • September 26, 2019 at 11:57 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Thanks so much for the info Sandi! :)
  • May 8, 2019 at 5:28 pm
    Simone
    Want to say thank you! This is so helpful for planning my Barcelona trip.
    • July 5, 2019 at 8:08 am
      Jenae
      Do you have to prebook tickets to get in or can you show up at anytime and not have a long time to wait? Thanks
      • July 5, 2019 at 10:01 am
        ashley
        Team Member
        Ash
        Hi Jenae, I have never heard of anybody being turned away due to massive lines but in high season I would book in advance just in case - it's better to be safe than sorry :) Ash
    • May 9, 2019 at 12:49 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Thank YOU Simone! :) If you have any questions please let me know.
  • February 28, 2019 at 7:10 am
    jess
    if below free entrance time still valid in 2019 ? 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and 5:45 pm to 7:30 pm (Weekdays). 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and 5:15 pm to 8:00 pm (Saturdays). 8:00 am to 1:45 pm and 5:15 pm to 8:00 pm (Sundays/holidays).
    • February 28, 2019 at 11:03 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Jess, Apologies but the Sunday worship visit was incorrect - it is actually from 8:30 that the Cathedral is open. I've updated it as such, thank you for pointing it out :) Ash
      • March 1, 2019 at 8:46 am
        Jess
        Thank a lot :)
  • September 27, 2018 at 4:00 am
    Cassie Hackney
    Can you go during the free time in the morning if you are not there for worship? Are you able to wander around without being a nuisance? I don't want to be disrespectful, but the only time I have to see it is in the morning. If not, I'll just skip it and enjoy the outside. Thanks
    • September 27, 2018 at 10:32 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Cassie, The worship and prayer thing I think is to discourage people from really treating it like some tourist attraction and get people to focus on the religious elements... that said, I went in during these times and took a good look around and nobody told me off. I even snapped a few photos. If you're feeling a bit weird about it simply sit in one of the pews for a bit and contemplate life before exploring the rest, I doubt anybody will bother you := Ash
      • September 27, 2018 at 4:09 pm
        Cassie Hackney
        Thank you. I'll give it try. I can leave if it gets weird.
        • September 27, 2018 at 6:23 pm
          ashley
          Team Member
          Ash
          Haha! my modus operandi in many life situations ;) you're welcome.
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