This is my insider’s guide to the best churches in Barcelona! Churches are a goldmine of artistry – the Catholics commissioned the best artists of the time to create pieces that inspire feelings of awe in the congregation. Read about my personal experiences, tips and valuable local knowledge given to me by my dear Catalan friends. My list contains places of worship that I’ve either been to or I would like to visit. I have included entrance fees and how much time to allocate, although you will still need to Google further information, like addresses and opening times.
The best churches in Barcelona
La Sagrada Familia
The Temple of Antoni Gaudí
More commonly known as the Gaudi Cathedral (but it’s not a cathedral, it’s a church), this is the most visited place in Barcelona – I haven’t seen inside since 1989. Some say the fact that it is a work in progress is one of the things that draws people – does it need to be finished? The corner stone had already been laid once Gaudí started working on the project in 1883. He dedicated all his time exclusively from 1914 until his death in 1926. You can walk all the way around the exterior of the church and I recommend observing the facade from various distances. The more you look, the more you will see in this highly decorated, carved and mosaic masterpiece. The project is funded by entrance fees, the donations of tourists and the hard work of the locals – the more you pay, the better your chance of getting into heaven! Pre-book tickets. Free entrance for 8am mass on Sunday’s, (not during August), 26€ entrance all other times.
Also check out the nearby Avenida de Gaudi for restaurants and cafes.
The church and amusement park on top of the highest hill
The Church of the Sacred Heart (Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor) is a Roman Catholic church mounted on the highest peak of mount Tibidabo, on the Serra de Collserola mountain range. The location for the church was chosen because of the part in the bible (Matthew 4:8), where the devil tempts Christ from a high point looking down over the kingdoms of the world. Although work started on the church in 1903, it wasn’t entirely finished until 1961. An enormous bronze statue of Christ is perched on top of the highest point (it replaced an earlier version made by Frederic Marès, which was made in 1935 and was destroyed when the civil war started).
The iconic silhouette of the church with the ferris wheel next to it, watches over Barcelona down below and can also be seen from most parts of the city. From up there you can also take in a 180° panorama of Barcelona and enjoy the amusement park (covid restrictions permitting). You can enter the lower part (the crypt), which was completed in 1911 and is made from Montjuïc stone. Make sure to go up the exterior stone stairways on either side of the crypt, to reach the upper level, where you can see amazing views of all around the coast and surrounding countryside. Here you can also enter the upper part (the temple), which is made from a lighter coloured stone from Girona. It’s easy to kill an hour or more up there, visiting both parts of the church and viewing platforms, which are all free.
The amusement park re-opens on the 5th March 2022 and is 35€ entrance.
The Benedictine Monastery Santa Maria de Montserrat
A must see, even though it’s located an hour outside of the city, up a mountain – just go! Once you get there, walk towards the monastery, find your way through all the wonderful architecture and plazas, to where everyone is queuing and get your time slot to see The Black Madonna – she’s the main attraction and was sought after by high ranking nazis! Go into the church and walk around and absorb everything. There are many things to see – marble sculptures, a pathway along the mountain to a crypt, an art gallery, there are restaurants and many stunning views. Give yourself a whole day. Entrance is free. The art gallery costs 8€.
Monestir de Pedralbes
The Monastery of Pedralbes
Nearly every part of this 14th century Catalan gothic monastery is open to the public – the courtyard, the tiled kitchen, the store rooms, the chapel, sleeping quarters and the church. It has been home to a small community of nuns of the order of St. Clare. The archways of the interior court yard make for an excellent back drop for quiet meditation (siesta is a quiet time). The ancient art and carvings are visible all the way around the cloistered walls. There’s a museum containing well made objects saved from everyday life. This excursion can de done in half a day. Pre-book tickets. 5€ entrance.
Catedral Basílica de Barcelona
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia
It’s hard to avoid this one, as all the streets in the gothic quarter seem to lead here, at some point. The construction was commenced in 1298, on the site of a Roman temple, the principal work was undertaken in the 14th century. During the late nineteenth century, the neo gothic facade was constructed over the top of a typically plain Catalan church front. It then set the tone of the barrio’s gothic brand look, which some buildings had to be slightly adapted to. More often than not, you will hear great street musicians to accompany your experience on the outside. On the inside, the faithful and visitors alike, are welcome to contemplate this grand monument. Sunday mass is accompanied by a chamber choir. Pre-book tickets. 9€ entrance.
Thank you for reading
There are many more wonderful churches and hermitas dotted all over Catalonia. I hope you have found this part of my guide to Barcelona helpful. Now, before you go, have a browse of my art – I’ve created a lot of the paintings since living in Barcelona! All my art can be easily shipped worldwide.