The Cathedral of Girona, its history and how to visit it
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#99 The Cathedral of Girona, history and how to visit it

The most relevant historical symbol of the city, and the focal point of tourism in Girona


Girona's Cathedral is possibly the city's main tourist attraction, a place that is visited year after year by millions of tourists from all over the world because of its historical significance, and also because of its appearances in fashion productions on film and television. A millenary building full of history and legends, and that even today still crowns the city of Girona with full majesty.

It is strategically located at the highest point of the old town of the capital of Girona, known as the Old Force, coinciding with the urban layout of Gerunda. It is an imposing building, configured and protected by a set of walls and ramparts (of Roman heritage) and spaces of different styles, from the Romanesque (cloister and tower of Charlemagne) to the 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 Charlemagne tower (Lombard style), the cloister (rich in sculpture) and the sacristy remain from its Romanesque period in the mid-11th century.

Girona Cathedral

The history of Girona Cathedral

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

Between the 14th and 18th centuries the structure of the church underwent several reforms that began in 1606 and ended well into the 20th 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 floors of height filled with Lombard elements: lesene, blind arches, and sawtooth friezes, as well as geminated windows with semicircular arches. The arches and friezes made of black volcanic stone stand out, making them stand out from the rest. Its monumental tower (67 metres high) stands out from the cornice that crowns the façade, and it holds a bronze angel in its dome. Inside, it has six bells, including the popular Benita, which is played by 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".

From the Romanesque Girona Cathedral, the tower bell tower of the Lombard type and the cloister, with a trapezoid floor plan, have been preserved

At present, only the cloister remains from the original Romanesque cathedral, and the northern half of the bell tower, since the other was destroyed in the construction of the current Gothic nave. We can see in its structure, the mixture of styles as different as Romanesque, Gothic and Neoclassical. To get to its main door you have to go up a large staircase dating from the end of the 17th century.

The Romanesque cloister of Girona Cathedral offers us a rich and meticulous sculptural richness, with sculptures of great quality in its 122 capitals and the decorated friezes that surround 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 in the front of the Cathedral of Girona were designed by Isidre Bosch Bataller in the early 20th century. Curiously, 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 project to restructure the museum (2006) and the north façade (2009). In the latter, a walled-up window was opened and a new stained-glass window was installed according to the design of the Irish artist Sean Scully.


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

The Tapestry of Creation: an almost unique piece in the 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 embroidery workshop in the same city using the technique of needle painting. In its 12 square meters, a medieval "portrait" of the Creation is represented, which tells us the origin of heaven and earth as they were conceived at the end of the 11th century.

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

The Arab casket of Hixem II: belonging to the 10th century, the Enamel Cross, from the 14th century.

In 1015 the ruinous state of Girona Cathedral 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 locations for the filming of television series and films of international prestige.

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


Tips fors visitin Girona's Cathedral

We recommend you to choose the guided visits or the audio guides to discover all the details of the Cathedral, as well as the Cultural Visit to the Nave, the Treasure and the Cloister and Basilica of Sant Feliu.

The price of the regular ticket is 7 euros, and the reduced one for retired people and students with accreditation 5 euros, both options include audio guide. It is also advisable to wear comfortable shoes, and to be warm during winter.

We also offer educational activities for primary and secondary students with a monitor, with 4 proposals to choose from: Discovering the Cathedral, The Cathedral's Glassmaker, Romanesque and Gothic Art: painting, sculpture and architecture, and Religious Symbols. It must be confirmed with a minimum of 10 days of margin.


July and August: from 10 to 19.30 h.

From November to March: from 10 am to 5.30 pm

Rest of the year: from 10 am to 6.30 pm

Closed: 1 and 6 January / Good Friday / 25 December

For more information and details of the hours of worship: more info on this website.

One of the best opportunities to visit Girona's Cathedral is during the Girona Flower Festival, a time of year when its scales take on great relevance as it is the setting for fantastic floral montages that make it the most iconic space in the exhibition.


How to get to the Cathedral from Hotels Ultonia Girona

The Hotels Ultonia Girona are located in the heart of the city, a 7-minute walk from the Cathedral and the old town, as well as offering panoramic views of the Cathedral from its terraces and some rooms.

Book now