A beautiful house of God
Catedral Travel Blog› entry 6 of 15 › view all entries
Now we enter a very beautiful part of the city: the Barri Gòtic. The narrow streets are an open invitation for die hard pedestrians. If it weren't for the fact that the alleys are all paved (and the occasional car), I would've thought I'd gone hundreds of years back in time. Appartment blocks, three to four stories high, take out all the sunlight, casting lovely cool shade.
All of a sudden we see a tall building at the end of an alley. It is a church that is so closely surrounded by other buildings, that there is no way of taking a decent picture of it. On the steps of sacred site sits a man, shouting his tale at everyone, in a tone as if he were some kind of profet foretelling the armageddon. Not many listeners take him seriously, though, and it doesn't take long before he gets up and walks off, looking for a better crowd, I suppose.
As we stroll along we find out that not all architects had a good feel for heights and sizes, one building in particular has doors that would be suitable for a reasonably sized Tyrannosaurus. The lion head shaped door knockers placed so high that no one can ever reach them.
One of the highlights of Gothic architecture is Catedral, built on the remains of an early Christian basilica that was destroyed by the Moors in the 10th century. The current building was founded in 1298, its neo-Gothic facade (momentarily sadly covered with a "this restoration is sponsored by" banner) was only added in the early 20th century. There is a line of people who want to get into the cathedral and, since we want to go in as well, shuffle along.
The cathedral is dedicated to Santa Eulàlia, the city patroness, who was legendary for her beauty and purity. She was tortured and eventually put to death by the Roman rulers. The alabaster tomb in which she was buried, is kept in the crypt at the bottom of a flight of stairs in the centre nave.
The 14th century cloisters are worth spending some time in as well. Inside the enclosure of the ancient walls are palm trees, a flock of 13 white geese, a 15th century statue of Saint George and several side chapels that used to belong to the medieval guilds. There are too many people talking and chattering, making it rather hard to believe that this is holy ground, but being surrounded by things this old allways gives me a special feeling. Nobody knows for sure why the 13 geese are here, but it is commonly accepted that they have something to do with Santa Eulàlia.
When we leave the cathedral the beggars we saw when we came in are still here, waiting for alms. One way or another, inspite of their shabby clothes, they don't look genuine to me. Earlier today we saw a beggar sitting on the sidewalk, holding a bilingual piece of cardboard reading: "I've been robbed and need your help". That young man in particular gave me serious doubts.
On our quest for a good meal we stumble upon the Palau de la Música Catalana, a magnificent concert hall, designed in 1905 by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. We can't go in at this time of day, but the outside alone is shere beauty.
Closeby we find a restaurant that looks good from the outside, and we go in to have our first go at the Spanish Tapas. It must be said that they are a real eye opener. Typical Dutch meals often consist of boiled potatoes with gravy, meat and vegetables, these Spanish bites are really something else. The waiter made a selection of tapas for us, knowing that we had never eaten this before, and he chose rather neutral flavours. The next time we eat tapas we sure are going to try some more exotic dishes. I'm going to have a great time savouring the flavours Barcelona.