Fodor's Expert Review Cathedral

Girona Religious Building/Site/Shrine Fodor's Choice

At the heart of the Força Vella, the cathedral looms above 90 steps and is famous for its nave—at 75 feet, the widest in the world and the epitome of the spatial ideal of Catalan Gothic architects. Since Charlemagne founded the original church in the 8th century, it has been through many fires and renovations. Take in the rococo-era facade, "eloquent as organ music" and impressive flight of 17th-century stairs, which rises from its own plaça. Inside, three smaller naves were compressed into one gigantic hall by the famed architect Guillermo Bofill in 1416. The change was typical of Catalan Gothic "hall" churches, and it was done to facilitate preaching to crowds. Note the famous silver canopy, or baldaquí (baldachin). The oldest part of the cathedral is the 11th-century Romanesque Torre de Carlemany (Charlemagne Tower).

The cathedral's exquisite 12th-century cloister has an obvious affinity with the cloisters in the Roussillon area of France. Inside the Treasury... READ MORE

At the heart of the Força Vella, the cathedral looms above 90 steps and is famous for its nave—at 75 feet, the widest in the world and the epitome of the spatial ideal of Catalan Gothic architects. Since Charlemagne founded the original church in the 8th century, it has been through many fires and renovations. Take in the rococo-era facade, "eloquent as organ music" and impressive flight of 17th-century stairs, which rises from its own plaça. Inside, three smaller naves were compressed into one gigantic hall by the famed architect Guillermo Bofill in 1416. The change was typical of Catalan Gothic "hall" churches, and it was done to facilitate preaching to crowds. Note the famous silver canopy, or baldaquí (baldachin). The oldest part of the cathedral is the 11th-century Romanesque Torre de Carlemany (Charlemagne Tower).

The cathedral's exquisite 12th-century cloister has an obvious affinity with the cloisters in the Roussillon area of France. Inside the Treasury there's a variety of precious objects. They include a 10th-century copy of Beatus's manuscript Commentary on the Apocalypse (illuminated in the dramatically primitive Mozarabic style), the Bible of Emperor Charles V, and the celebrated Tapís de la Creació (Tapestry of the Creation), considered by most experts to be the finest tapestry surviving from the Romanesque era (and, in fact, thought to be the needlework of Saxons working in England). Made of wool, with predominant colors of green, brown, and ocher, the tapestry once hung behind the main altar as a pictorial Bible lesson. Representations of time and nature circle around a central figure, likening paradise to the eternal cosmos presided over by Christ. The bottom band (which appears to have been added at a later date) contains two iudeis, or Jews, dressed in the round cloaks they were compelled to wear to set them apart from Christians. This scene is thought to be the earliest portrayal of a Jew (other than biblical figures) in Christian art.

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Religious Building/Site/Shrine Fodor's Choice Building/Architectural Site

Quick Facts

Pl. de la Catedral s/n
Girona, Catalonia  17004, Spain

972-427189

www.catedraldegirona.cat

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Rate Includes: From €7

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