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Painted in soul-stirring Gothic splendor the likes of which the world has rarely seen, the Barcelona Cathedral is a striking religious landmark, and the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. This historic cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia, a patron saint of Barcelona whose crypt sits peacefully beneath its high altar. While construction on the cathedral officially lasted between the 13th and 15th centuries, the majority of the work was finished in the 14th Century. After its completion in 1420, the Barcelona Cathedral revealed expert craftsmanship in everything from skilfully rendered Gothic cloisters, to mythical gargoyles that protectively watch over the cathedral, lending to an architectural significance that persists even today. Perhaps the most festive legacy left by the cathedral is the Catalan tradition of the dancing egg, which is said to have originated when a hollowed egg was filled with wax and left to dance atop the jets of the cloister fountain, in honor of the Feast of Corpus Christi. The cathedral, adorned with intricate spires built atop a handsome nave and marvelous bell towers, vies for domination over the city's skyline with another priestly landmark, the Sagrada Família.
This basilica owes its name to the pine forest that once stood in its place, spanning from the walls of the Roman city to Las Ramblas. In the 1320s, work began on the basilica structure, which exemplifies the typical Barcelona Gothic style although the main entrance is Romanesque. Inside, a chapel lies in front of the chapter house containing the tomb of Josep Oriol, a saint from Barcelona. There is also a rosette window, truly impressive for its size and mesmerizing in all different lighting throughout the day. Visitors to the church are asked to donate to the conservation and restoration of the temple. However, outside regular visting hours, the temple is free to visit, and everyone is invited to participate in prayer.
Located in central Barcelona, the Sinagoga Mayor de Barcelona is one of the oldest synagogues in Europe. It sits facing southeast, pointing to Jerusalem. The architecture of the Sinagoga Mayor de Barcelona dates back to the third century, and excavations have unearthed first-century Roman walls made of stones from Carthage. A historic treasure, the synagogue has two rooms, the foyer and the main room, and a healthy number of artifacts on display. It was converted to a museum in 2002 and now welcomes guests both local and visiting to learn about the Jewish history of this lovely city.
Four magnificent columns of the original Temple of Augustus remain intact, surviving more than 2,000 years and today representing the best preserved Roman relic in the city. This site was once a pagan temple located in what used to be the Roman center of the city, which is now known as the Gothic Quarter. The four original temple columns are housed within the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya, a cultural center that dates back to the late 1800s. Next time you're touring Barcelona, don't miss the chance to explore one of the last traces of the Roman town known as Barcino by visiting this historic site.
While competition for the most outstanding religious structure in Barcelona is high given architectural masterpieces like the Sagrada Familia and Barcelona Cathedral, this basilica is quite spectacular. It was built between 1329 CE and 1384 CE, giving visitors a glimpse into Gothic history and serving as an important stop along any tour of the Barri Gòtic. The austere Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar boasts a lovely 15th-century stained-glass window shaped like a rosette, as well as impressive sculptures on the facade and tympanum. Mass is held in the Santísimo chapel except on Sundays when it is held in the main altar. Mass is regularly conducted in Catalan, as well as in Spanish on select days.
This charming church has been one of Barcelona's national monuments for over a century now. It once housed a monastery, and while there is no documentation as to how it began, historical sources have traced operations at the monastery all the way back to 997. Iglesia de Sant Pau del Camp is best known as an example of Romanesque architecture, characterized by its lobular arcades, double columns, and various details. A wonderful piece of history, this lovely religious landmark is a great place to visit and spend some quiet time.
An unfinished religious icon that is steeped in profound cultural value and features an incomparable aesthetic, the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is an astounding marvel. Gaudí began working on this utterly surreal temple, now a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, in 1882. Originally intended to be a modest, neo-Gothic church, the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia has since become arguably the most iconic building in all of Barcelona. Gaudí broke away from the reigning neo-Gothic style in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, imbuing his architecture with symbolic meaning and pioneering the Catalan Modernism movement. Intricate details like palm-tree pillars whose bases take the shapes of turtles, eye-catching colors, Baroque-style influences, and materials ranging from mosaic tiles to an array of stones converge to create an absolute masterpiece.
This monastery and adjoining convent were founded in 1327 by Queen Elisenda of Montcada to house the nuns of the Order of Saint Clare. Now, the site serves as a museum, giving visitors a peek at the important Gothic landmark. The property is quite lovely, featuring a courtyard, garden, and Renaissance-style fountain. Everything has been carefully maintained and restored, included the dining hall, kitchen, infirmary, and cells once belonging to the resident nuns. Visitors will find some of the religious paintings belonging to the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection in one of the rooms, giving the experience an artistic bent on top of its cultural appeal.
As one of the most recognizable landmarks and attractions in Barcelona, Colonia Güell is a popular tourist attraction. Commissioned by Count Eusebi Guell in 1898 for his workers at the nearby textile factory, the church was the mastermind of famed architect, Antoni Gaudi. Unfortunately, only a portion was completed due to a loss of revenue from Güell's textile business. Today the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also known as, Gaudi's Crypt or Cripta Gaudi. Truly a sight to behold, this landmark is one of Gaudi's lesser-known treasures and unlike any other structure you'll see.