CATHEDRAL, Introduction

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The Cathedral is dedicated to the city's patron saint, Saint Eulalia, and to the Holy Cross, but is also known as La Seu, or the "seat", as it was once the home of the diocese. If you come during the day, I suggest returning in the evening when its façade is completely illuminated and is a beautiful mixture of shadows and light.

You're now at the highest point of the Gothic Quarter in an area full of archaeological remains; in fact a church had already stood here before the Christian era, but it was destroyed just before the year 1000 when the Arabs sacked Barcelona. Another church was later erected in Romanesque style by Count Ramon Berenguer I, who came to rule when he was only eleven years old, and his wife Almodis. At the end of the 1200s, King Jamie II "The Just" ordered the construction of a new Gothic Cathedral, whose design was entrusted to the Flemish master builders. The façade and towers were only completed at the end of the 1800s in Neo-Gothic style.

The large Gothic complex of the Cathedral is surrounded by a number of small palaces and buildings of different ages, which are however all related to church life. Which is why I recommend taking a short walk around the complex before going inside the Cathedral. Go for a stroll here in Plaça de la Seu to look at the 14th-century Home of the Dean and the arcaded courtyard of the Gothic Archdeacon's House, where the historical archives are now located.

Instead in Plaça Nova you can admire the beautiful Baroque façade of the vast Episcopal Palace, whose courtyard preserves the remains of its medieval origins.

Take a look at the Artists' House as well, which is better known as Casa de la Pia Almoina/House of the Pious Alms, and includes two buildings from the 1400s and 1500s.


FUN FACT: if you want to learn more about medieval Barcelona, I suggest reading a famous novel called The Lord of Barcelona, which is set right at the time when the city had a mere 2,500 inhabitants. One of the book's characters is the sovereign Ramon Berenguer and his wife!

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