Posted by: travelrat | March 29, 2010

Geese at the Cathedral

Barcelona 10th December 2009 (cont’d)

The reason for many of the cranes which decorate Barcelona’s skyline is the church of the Sagrada Familia, another project in which Gaudi had a hand. But, they’re not refurbishing it. They haven’t finished it yet, although construction started in 1882.

They received no money at all from the Church; it was to be funded entirely by public subscription. And, the Great Depression, the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent Franco regime saw to it that this almost dwindled to nothing for many years.

They’re presently raising money by charging admission … but, we didn’t go in; the guide said there was nothing inside but an empty shell anyway. But, she did warn us, before we walked into the adjoining park to take photographs, leave anything of value we didn’t need on the coach. Barcelona has, unfortunately, a reputation for being home to legions of pickpockets.

And, when we returned to the bus, we saw a sad tableau of someone from another group, his guide and a policeman gravely taking notes. When our guide told us what had been taken, I didn’t know whether to feel sorry for him, or think it served him right for carrying so much cash and so many cards around with him.

(For what it’s worth, I’d made a point of wearing trousers with zipped pockets, and was only carrying my Costa card, a photocopy of my passport, two 10-euro notes, in separate pockets and some change)

I don’t think you can do a conducted tour of any city (in the Christian world, anyway) without being taken to see the Cathedral. The one in Barcelona is dedicated to St. Eulalia, who was martyred for her faith aged only 13. In her memory, thirteen geese … one for each year of her age … are kept in the cloister.

Now, for guarding somewhere, geese are much better than dogs, both for raising the alarm and attacking intruders. I should think a disturbed goose at 2 o’clock in the morning would deter any burglar.

However, we visited in December, in which month there are only eleven geese. By tradition, the Bishop has two for Christmas dinner.

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  1. I loved hearing about Saint Eulalia and the geese. I can vouch for them being better than guard dogs because my family in Ireland kept them and they were vicious. I’d rather have a Rottweiler any day!

  2. We were in Barcelona a few years ago and we did venture in – if you go to see such a major piece of architecture, I’d feel cheated if I didn’t go in, even if I had to pay – won’t you always wonder if your guide was right? I remember really enjoying La Pedrera too

    • I suspect time was a factor, too.

      Have you written anything about what’s inside, because, if so, I’d like to put in a link to it, if I may?

      As I said, we only scratched the surface of Barcelona; having read the excellent posts at, I’m looking for the opportunity for a longer return visit.

  3. I adore the geese in the cathedral! But at the same time, it doesn’t really feel like a holy place with them…

    • I’m trying to recall something I once read about livestock being kept in a church/temple for other than sacrificial purposes, but can’t quite put my finger on it.

  4. I’m afraid I saw Barcelona in my pre-blogging days, when I wasn’t very focussed on taking noes or photos, so sorry i haven’t written about it

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