Barcelona’s magnificent Gothic cathedral boasts an eye- catching façade and a peaceful cloister.
The elegant church of Santa Maria del Mar (1329–83) is one of the finest examples of Catalan Gothic, a style characterized by simplicity. A spectacular stained-glass rose window illuminates the lofty interior.
Pl del Tibidabo • 93 417 56 86 • Open 11am–9pm daily • Adm for lifts
Mount Tibidabo is an appropriate perch for this over-the-top Neo-Gothic church (see Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor), topped with a large golden statue of Christ with arms outstretched. The name Tibidabo comes from the words tibidabo, meaning “I shall give you”, said to have been uttered by the Devil in his temptation of Christ. Zealously serving the devoted, the priest here celebrates the Eucharist throughout the day.
Founded as a Benedictine monastery in the 9th century by Guifre II, a count of Barcelona, this church was rebuilt the following century. Its sculpted façade and intimate cloister with rounded arches exemplify the Romanesque style (see Església de Sant Pau del Camp).
Pl de Sant Pere • Open 8:30am–1pm & 5–7:30pm Mon–Fri, 8:30am–1pm & 4:30–7pm Sat, 11am–2pm Sun
Built in 801 as a chapel for troops stationed in Barcelona, this església later became a spiritual retreat for young noblewomen. The church was rebuilt in the 1100s and is notable for its Romanesque central cupola and a series of capitals with carved leaves. Look out for two stone tablets depicting a Greek cross, which are from the original chapel.
Accessed through an arch set in ancient walls, the lovely Monestir de Pedralbes, founded in 1327, still has the air of a closed community. Inside is a Gothic clois-ter and the Capella de Sant Miquel, decorated with murals by Catalan artist Ferrer Bassa in 1346. The adjoining Gothic church contains the alabaster tomb of Queen Elisenda, the monastery’s founder – on the church side, her effigy wears royal robes; on the other, a nun’s habit.
Pl del Pi • Open 10am– 6pm daily
This lovely Gothic church with its ornate stained-glass windows graces the Plaça del Pi.
Pl del Rei • Open 10am–7pm Tue–Sat, 10am–8pm Sun • Adm (free 3–8pm Sun)
Within the beautiful Palau Reial is the medieval Capella de Santa Àgata, which can only be entered as part of a visit to the Museu d’Història de Barcelona. The 15th-century altarpiece is by Jaume Huguet.
Pl Sant Jaume • Guided tours 10:30am–1:30pm second and fourth Sat and Sun of the month; reservations essential
Inside the Palau de la Generalitat is this fine 15th-century chapel, dedicated to the patron saint of Catalonia.
C/Xuclà 2 • Open 8:30am–1:30pm & 6–9pm daily
La Rambla was once dotted with religious buildings, most built in the 17th and 18th centuries when the Catholic Church was flush with money. This Baroque església is one of the major functioning churches from this period.
The famous “Black Virgin” is a patron saint of Catalonia, along with Sant Jordi.
Catalonia’s patron saint is St George, whose dragon-slaying prowess is depicted all over the city.
The Virgin of Mercè became a patron saint of the city in 1687, and shares the honour with Santa Eulàlia. The most raucous festival in town is the popular Festes de la Mercè.
Santa Eulàlia is Barcelona’s co-patron saint (with La Mercè). She was martyred by the Romans in around AD 300.
Legend has it that St Helena converted to Christianity after finding Christ’s cross in Jerusalem in AD 346.
The patron saint of eyes and vision is celebrated on 13 December, when the blind come to worship at the Santa Llúcia chapel in Barcelona Cathedral.
Cars are blessed on the feast day of Sant Cristòfor, patron saint of travellers, at a tiny chapel on C/Regomir.
On 13 June, those seeking a husband or wife pray to the patron saint of love.
Those searching for miracles pray to Santa Rita, deliverer of the impossible.
The night of St John is celebrated with bonfires and fireworks.