Updated Apr 21 2020
Originally a monastery for many centuries, the current Santa Anna Church, which is officially called by its Catalan name of Església de Santa Anna, can be found in the small and hidden Placeta de Ramon Amadeu, very close to Plaça Catalunya. Its only company is a small flower stall and the occasional presence of students from a nearby school, and it’s this privileged spot which protects the church from the huge amount of people who walk just a few metres’ walk from it daily.
History of the Santa Anna church
It was the monks of the Holy Sepulchre order who were sent to Barcelona in the 12th century to settle in the city and extend the community throughout the whole peninsula, who commissioned the construction of a monastery to the architect Ramon Amadeu. His name was subsequently given to the square in which the church is situated. Work to construct the monastery took 3 centuries in total, which explains the mixture of the Roman style of its structure and the Gothic style of many of its features and spaces, clear examples of this being the cloister, the chapter house and the entrance’s Gothic archivolt.
Because of its historical importance, the church had already been declared a National Monument in 1881, and more recently it was made a Bien Cultural de Interés Nacional (the equivalent of a national heritage site) by the Catalan government.
The visit to the Santa Anna Church
One of the elements that immediately attracts your attention when you walk into the Placeta de Ramon Amadeu is the cross that is situated next to the outside door that leads to the cloister of the church. It’s a replica that was erected in 2006, replacing the original that dated back to 1608, which had been brought from Almatret (Lleida) and erected in front of the Iglesia de Santa Anna years after the end of the Spanish Civil War, before later being returned to Almatret.
In order to visit the inside of the church you will need to buy a ticket. The cost is very reasonable, at just €2, and this makes it accessible to the majority of people who come to visit. The ticket gives you access to the most important and significant areas of the church, amongst which highlights include the cloister and the chapter house, both dating back to the 15th century and in the Gothic style.
Thanks to its charming location and the incredible atmosphere that is conjured up within its historic walls, and especially in its beautiful cloister, the Iglesia de Santa Anna is the venue chosen by many couples for their wedding, and by families wanting to celebrate all sorts of events such as baptisms and funerals. These kinds of events generally take place at weekends, so you might find that you are unable to access the church for a short while during one of them.
The Cloister of the Santa Anna Church
As the construction dates back to the 15th century, the cloister is clearly of Gothic style, but in it you can already see some details that look ahead to the Renaissance, as you will see from the corbels. The cloister is without doubt the most beautiful area of the church, especially during the spring months when it boasts all its splendour, as the large palm tree and its solitary well are surrounded by the seasonal plants, which gives it a colouring that it doesn’t usually have at other times of the year. With fairly straight and simple lines, just like in the rest of the church, the cloister has 10 archways on each of its sides, and you can see a simple but beautiful floral decoration on each of its columns.
The cloister is one of the places in which you can enjoy the tradition of “l’Ou Com Balla” (“the Dancing Egg”) throughout Corpus Christi day, when an egg is made to appear to magically dance on the water of the fountain.
Just as with many other churches in Barcelona, such as the nearby Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi, evening candle-lit concerts are regularly organised in the cloister of the Santa Anna church, often featuring the Spanish guitar (which is usually aimed at tourists) and a glass of wine is served to members of the audience after the concert.
Time: 19:00 or 21:00 (depending on the day)
Duration: 60 minutes
The Chapter House
The chapter house is quite small, and can be accessed directly from the cloister itself, and it was the area in which the monastery’s monks met with the church officials to make certain decisions. Inside you’ll be attracted by many elements, such as the baptismal font, a gift from Queen Elizabeth II, the Gothic octagonal dome and the tomb of the prior Mateu Fernández in front of the altar.
Other points of interest within the church
THE CHAPEL OF PURITY
THE CHAPEL OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE
THE CHAPEL OF THE VIRGIN OF GUADALUPE
THE CHAPEL OF THE HOLY SACRAMENT
The square in which the church can be found has two access points, but most people arrive via the entrance at Santa Anna street (Nº29) as you can get there from two of the most central and busy streets in the city, La Rambla de Barcelona and the Avinguda de Portal del’Àngel.
Placeta de Ramon Amadeu (Santa Anna street, 29), Barcelona.
Mondays to Saturdays: from 11:00 to 19:00.
Sundays and public holidays: from 11:00 to 14:00.
General Admission: €2.
How to get there?
Metro: Catalunya (lines 1 and 3) and Urquinaona (lines 1 and 4).
Buses: Lines 24, 41, 42, 55, 58, 67, 68, H16, V15 and tourist bus.
By foot: just a few metres from the Plaza Catalunya, you can walk from anywhere in the heart of the city centre.