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Girona Cathedral

Icon of the city, a must stop during your first visit to Girona

The Cathedral of Girona is possibly the main tourist attraction of the city, a place that year after year visited by millions of tourists from around the world for its historical relevance, and also for their appearances in fashion productions in film and television. A millenary building full of history and legends, and that still today continues to crown immovably in the city of Girona with full majesty.

It is strategically located at the highest point of the central core of the old city of the capital of Girona, known as the Old Force, coinciding with the urban layout of Gerunda. It is a building of imposing construction, configured and protected from a set of walls and ramparts (Roman heritage) and spaces of different styles of different eras, from Romanesque (cloister and tower of Charlemagne) to Baroque (facade and the imposing staircase dating from the seventeenth century).

Today, only the Gothic nave (the widest in the world at 22.98 meters), the tower of Charlemagne (Lombard style), the cloister (of great sculptural richness), and the sacristy remain from its Romanesque period of the mid-11th century.

The origins of the Cathedral

The church of Santa Maria de Girona, cathedral seat of the Bishopric of Girona, is the largest Christian temple of the Bishopric and of the province of the same name.

Between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries the structure of the church underwent several reforms that began in 1606 and ended well into the twentieth century. Its bell tower was designed by the architect Joan Balcells, 1580, although construction work did not begin until well into 1751.

The old bell tower of the building (11th century) has seven stories high filled with Lombard elements: lesenes, blind arches, and sawtooth friezes, as well as twinned windows with semicircular arches. The arcades and friezes made of black volcanic stone stand out from the rest. Its monumental tower (67 meters high) protrudes from the cornice that crowns the facade, and holds in its dome a bronze angel, contains in its interior 6 bells, including the popular Benita, he plays the hours. As a curiosity it is worth mentioning that the clock of the Cathedral has the number four wrongly expressed in Roman numeration, “IIII” instead of “IV”.

Its monumental tower, 67 meters high, protrudes from the cornice that crowns the facade and holds a bronze angel in its dome

Currently, only the cloister and the northern half of the bell tower remain of the original Romanesque cathedral, since the other half was destroyed in the construction of the current Gothic nave. We can observe in its structure, the mixture of styles as disparate as Romanesque, Gothic and neoclassical. To reach the main door you have to climb a large staircase from the late seventeenth century.

The Romanesque cloister of the Cathedral of Girona offers a rich and meticulous sculptural richness, with sculptures of great quality to its 122 capitals and decorated friezes surrounding the pillars. Historical scenes from the Old and New Testament, others with humans and animals as protagonists, with purely decorative plant and geometric motifs.

The windows of the front of the Cathedral of Girona were designed by Isidre Bosch Bataller in the early twentieth century. Interestingly, his son Ignacio Bosch Reitg was the architect of our
Ultonia Building..

In 2009 the last restoration was completed, which included work on the Baroque façade (2001), the bell tower (2003), the museum restructuring project (2006) and the north façade (2009). In the latter, a walled window was opened and a new stained glass window was installed according to a design by the Irish artist Sean Scully.

In 1015, the ruinous state of Girona Cathedral made it advisable to build a new temple. The new Romanesque reform, dedicated to Santa Maria, was consecrated in 1038.

Attached to the church we find the Treasury of the Cathedral where three pieces of great artistic value stand out:

The Tapestry of the Creation: an almost unique piece in the whole world, of which we do not know its specific origin, although it is suspected that it was made at the end of the 11th century in an embroiderers’ workshop in the same city with the technique of needle painting. In its extensive 12 square meters it represents a medieval “portrait” of the Creation, which tells us the origin of heaven and earth as they were conceived at the end of the 11th century.

The Beatus of Gerona: a 10th century copy of the Commentary on the Apocalypse by Beatus of Liébana, with more than 100 full-page miniatures.

The Arabic chest of Hixem II: belonging to the 10th century, the Cross of the Enamels, from the 14th century.

In 1015 the ruinous state of the Cathedral of Girona advised the construction of a new temple. The new Romanesque reform, dedicated to Santa Maria, was consecrated in 1038.

A cathedral of cinema and series

The capital of Girona has been chosen among many other candidates on an international scale (largely because of the state of its historical heritage) to become one of the privileged to host the filming of television series and films of international prestige.

Evidently Girona Cathedral has been one of the settings where several scenes of these major productions have been filmed, of which we highlight the popular HBO series, Game of Thrones and the film The Monk.

Tips for visiting the Cathedral of Girona in peace and quiet

We recommend hiring tour guides or audio guides to discover all the details of the Cathedral, as well as the Cultural Visit to the Nave, the Treasury and the Cloister and Basilica of Sant Feliu. The price of the regular ticket is around €7. Remember to wear comfortable shoes to visit the old town of Girona, as there are quite a few stairs to climb.

For more information and details about the opening hours, you can consult the following website.

One of the best times to visit Girona Cathedral is during Temps de Flors, a time of the year when its staircases are beautifully decorated with fantastic floral arrangements that make it the most iconic space of the exhibition. In any case, Ultonia Girona Hotels are located just 7 minutes walk from the Cathedral and the old town and offer panoramic views of the Cathedral from its terraces.