Cathedral Crowns the Barri Gotic
Whether you are religious or not, when you visit Barcelona, be sure to visit La Seu. It is one of the best surviving examples of medieval architecture in the world.La Seu's full name is the Cathedral de la Santa Crue i Santa Eulalia (Cathedral of the Holy Crucifix and of Saint Eulalia). It is located on the site of a Roman basilica, which was built in 343 A.D. Although it was destroyed by the Moors in 985 A.D., a Romanesque cathedral was built there in 1058 A.D., and incorporated into the current structure in the 1300s. Construction was a slow process begun during King Jaume II's reign. Work continued into the 19th century, as wars, epidemics and other difficulties delayed progress. Because of the long period, the structure contains Romanesque and Gothic elements.The wait was well worth it as the current structure is magnificent: over 300 ft/90 m long. Its central spire is 230 ft/70 m high with unusual octangal clock towers that were built between 1386 and 1393. Probably the most famous part of the exterior is the facade, with its concentric arches over the entrance. These are distinctly different from even other Gothic churches in Barcelona.Don't stop outside, however. The interior is also memorable: Wood carvings dominate every wall. And what Gothic cathedral would be complete without stained glass? Some of the interior was designed by Antonin Gaudi, later famous for La Sagrada Familia Cathedral.Historical artifacts also abound: In a side chapel is a Crucifix from the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. It is said the Corpus (Christ figure) on this Crucifix bent to the right in order to avoid a cannonball. Another Crucifix from that era can be seen in the Capella de Sant Benet (Chapel of St. Benedict).There are many side chapel on the main floor of the church, each with its own interesting artifacts. But don't miss going down to the crypt below the Altar. There you can see the body of St. Eulalia, the patron saint of Barcelona. It is said the 13-year-old girl was martyred by the Romans by being rolled in a barrel stuck full of knives. Other stories say she was burned at the stake, which was not common practice at the time.Before you leave the building, go up to the roof, for a wonderful view of the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) and the rest of Barcelona. On your way out, visit the beautiful courtyard in the cloister, which is always stocked with 13 white geese in honor of young St. Eulalia. The quiet patio and fountain make a serene oasis from the bustling city.La Seu is easy to find from the metro stops at Jaume I or Liceu. It will definitely be a high-point in your visit to Barcelona.