Sanctuary In The City: The Cathedral Garden

This semi-secret little garden is actually the cloister of The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia commonly known as the Barcelona Cathedral. If you're anything like me, you have no idea what a cloister is. Don't worry, I looked it up. Here's what Wikipedia had to say on the subject:

A cloister (from Latin claustrum, “enclosure”) is a covered walk, open gallery, or open arcade running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth. The attachment of a cloister to a cathedral or church, commonly against a warm southern flank, usually indicates that it is (or once was) part of a monastic foundation, “forming a continuous and solid architectural barrier... that effectively separates the world of the monks from that of the serfs and workmen, whose lives and works went on outside and around the cloister.

Its a rectangle garden with a walkway around it that was really only used by the clergy. Luckily for us, it is now open to the public. We had walked by the side door [where you enter the cloister directly without going through the cathedral] but it was the first time the doors had been open. There are a number of hours when entrance is free. I don't know that I would've paid to go in and see it but it was a nice way to spend a few minutes slowing down for a moment of reflection before continuing with a full day. It was such a lovely, calming atmosphere with all shades of greens that sits in stark contrast to the busy walkways of the city center just outside the doors.

Around the edges there are racks where you can light a candle and small alters and beautiful religious art. In the middle there is a fountain with exactly 13 geese. The geese can be heard throughout the cathedral and were put there originally to alert workers to the presence of intruders during the many years of construction, guard geese so to speak. It has been speculated that they chose 13 because Saint Eulalia (the Cathedral's namesake) was only 13 when she was martyred or to commemorate the 13 tortures that she is said to have endured.

Walls full of religious artwork surround many of the alters alongside the walkway.

The cathedral is in the Gothic style and was constructed mostly during the 14th century. Today it is the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. The cloister, which encloses the Well of the Geese (Font de les Oques) was completed in 1448. 


If you're looking at the front of the cathedral, the cloister entrance is on the right side of the cathedral just around the corner. 

Free visiting hours: 

Monday - Saturday  8a - 12:30pm, 3:45pm - 7pm
Sunday 8:30am - 1pm, 5:15pm - 7pm