In the heart of Barcelona's Bari Gotic district sits the city's Gothic cathedral known as La Seu. Like the area itself, it is dark and dingy with years of ancientness, with the first stone of the church being laid in the 13th century. Its official name is Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia, Catalan for Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia -- a mouthful!
The interior is only brightened by large 15th-century stained-glass windows. And certainly, don't miss the crypt below the Capella which holds the sarcophagus of Santa Eulalia, the young 13-year-old girl alledgedly tortured to death for her religion in the 4th century by the Romans. Some historians report her punishments included lashings, flesh being torn by hooks, wounds being sprinkled with boiling oil and many other insufferable acts that eventually led to her beheading.
The church is most famous for its cloister, a central courtyard surrounded by a beautiful Gothic portico. Here you will find 13 geese lazying around or in the pond. These geese represent one year in the life of Santa Eulalia.
Visit on a Sunday at noon when you can join the locals in the Sardana, the Catalonia national folk dance. There's no announcement or big fanfare to publicize its beginning, so get there early to nab a space on the cathedral's steps and wait for the show. The dancers form a circle and accurately count out a series of complicated steps, skips and jumps. Admittedly, I have two left feet, but go ahead and try it to see how well you do!
Entrance is free into the cathedral. A warning sign is posted about dress, though, so I advise showing up with shoulders and knees covered. For a small fee, you can climb the stairs or take the elevator to the roof for an incredible view of Barcelona.
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