Here we can see a blend of different styles as, although building was completed in the 18th century, it was started in the 11th century. The central staircase, dating from the 17th century and leading to the door is highly characteristic, and is one of the most singular Baroque works in Europe.
Placed at the highest point of old Girona, the cathedral of Santa Maria and the bell tower of Sant Feliu Church define the city’s skyline.
Construction began in the 11th century and was completed in the 18th century. That is why the current building conserves different styles: the Baroque of the main façade, the Romanesque of the cloister and the Charlemagne tower, and the Gothic of the nave.
The original, ancient cathedral was the seat of the bishop of the diocese, but in 1015 the bishop Pere Roger renovated this first building. A new Romanesque cathedral was consecrated in 1038, from which the bell tower, the cloister and two wings of clergymen’s rooms remain.
Construction of the Gothic building began in the 14th century, with the apse, and was completed in 1604. At first it was intended to build three naves. But the proposal of a single nave led to suspension of the works and a dispute that lasted almost fifty years. In 1417 it was decided to continue with the construction of a single nave, which would have a height of 23 metres, and was the broadest Gothic element in history.
The central flight of steps leading to the door, from the 17th century, has ninety steps and is one of the most singular Baroque works in Europe. In the exterior, to the north the Gothic porch of Sant Miquel is conserved, and to the south the porch of the Apostles, from the 14th century.
Three vertical sections make up the façade, built in 1730 by Pau de Costa. Right beside the tower, the gargoyle of the witch projects from the Cathedral. It is the only one with human form. According to legend, it represents the woman who blasphemed and threw stones against the cathedral, and who was converted by divine intervention into stone.
Over the main façade rises the 12th century bell tower, or Charlemagne tower, which was reused as a buttress for the central construction. It is octagonal with six floors, and crowned by a bronze angel, substituting a figure with the eyes covered, a symbol of faith.
The interior of the Cathedral gives a specially grandiose sensation, because of the enormous Gothic vault of the ceiling. There are thirty chapels with images and altarpieces; however, the set of pieces making up the high altar must be highlighted, including a silver and gold altarpiece, accompanied by stones and enamels, and Charlemagne´s seat, a Romanesque marble seat.
In the north part we find the Romanesque cloister, the work of the sculptor Arnau Cadell, in the 12th century, with a trapezoidal double column form. It shows biblical scenes and other images sculpted in the capitals.
The visit can be completed by seeing the Cathedral Treasures, located in the Chapter Museum, to the west of the cloister.
The Girona Museum of Art organizes guided visits guided to the Cathedral to explain didactically the history, art and religious symbolism of the building.