The Gothic Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia is everything a Gothic cathedral should be: It contains gargoyles, pointed arches, the tombs of not one, but two saints (the aforementioned Eulalia and Saint Olegarius). The side aisles lead into a number of small chapels filled with old paintings, tombs of important people who now only exist as street names, statuettes in alcoves and little numbered plaques that match the buttons on your hand-held audioguide. But the air is cool, the cathedral is dark and smells of chilled stone, which is a great antidote to a humid Barcelona summer day.
It was built in the 13th to 15th centuries on the bones of churches that had come before, their ruins now lost in the foundations of this more “modern” church. Every last bit of it was dug, hacked, carved and polished by the hands of men (and who knows—perhaps a few dedicated craftswomen?) with only the aid of ropes and pulleys and wheels and wooden frames and blades that had been made by hand themselves. If you ever get to go inside, look up—lean back, and look straight up. That tiny grey creature parked up near the beam? A human on scaffolding mounted it there—so far away, you can’t even tell what it is.
And when you look up, note the holes in the roof, where sunshine streams through like a pinprick star. After 600 years, even cathedral stone and joints wear away. What is it to worship in that pew on a rainy day? If they hit at the right angle, do the raindrops drip on your nose and rosary?