The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia (Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia in Spanish, Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia in English), popularly known as Barcelona Cathedral, is the Gothic cathedral which is home to the Archbishop of Barcelona. It is located in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona in the Ciutat Vella district. The cathedral is dedicated to one of the patron saints of Barcelona, Saint Eulalia.
According to legend, Saint Eulalia was a 13-year old virgin who suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Romans. The story goes that she was exposed naked in front of the crowd in the public square in the middle of spring, when a miraculous snow covered her naked body. After that, Romans put her inside a barrel with knives pointed to the inside and rolled it down the street, which is now called Baixada de Santa Eulalia. Legend has it that the girl underwent thirteen tortures before she was crucified and gave up the ghost. Her body is entombed in the crypt of the cathedral. In the cathedral's cloister, which is filled with lush flowers, orange and palm trees, there is a pond where thirteen geese live, representing each year of her life.
The construction of the cathedral lasted six centuries and was funded by the medieval guilds and brotherhoods. The construction works commenced in 1298, during the reign of James II, and the church was built on the remains of a Romanesque church. Many architects, engineers, and artists were involved in the building process. The apse and the crypt dating back to the 14th century are the works of Jamie Fabre. The vault and the cloister, dating from circa 1358, were created by Bernat Roca. At the end of the 14th century, the main architect of the cathedral was Arnau Bargués who designed its main nave with the adjoining chapels. In 1400, Bartolomé Gua worked on the construction of the cathedral's dome. Other architects involved in the construction of the cathedral were, among others, Andrés Escuder, who put the finishing touches to the interior of the church, and Carles Galtés de Ruán, who was responsible for the main façade. In 1448, the cathedral already had a Gothic presbytery, a transept, a triple nave, and a cloister. In 1500, a belfry was added to the building. Since the façade's austere simplicity contrasted sharply with the splendour and the great size of the cathedral, in the years 1887-1898 a façade designed by August Font i Carreras and Josep Oriol Mestres was constructed. The front of the cathedral is in the neo-Gothic style with the octagonal tower and a monumental entrance giving access to the Roman axis of the church.
The main altar of the cathedral, consecrated in 1337 by Bishop Ferrer Abella, is made of white marble and is supported by two columns of the sixth century ancient temple of Visigoth, which existed even before the Romanesque church on which the cathedral was built. In the background you can find the image of the Exaltation of the Cross surrounded by four angels, created by the sculptor Federico Marés in 1976, as well as large windows characteristic of the Gothic architecture. It is worth mentioning that the chapels, found on both sides of the cathedral, have Gothic or Baroque altarpieces. However, some elements of the cathedral are in the Renaissance style, such as the organs and the choir.
The cathedral is often mistakenly confused with another large church in Barcelona, the famous Sagrada Familia, which is often taken for the cathedral. The novel by Ildefonso Falcones entitled Cathedral of the Sea which refers to yet another church in Barcelona, Santa Maria del Mar, further adds to the confusion.