Explore the Cathedral – Map 21-29

Chapel of Saint John the Evangelist

  • Map: 21. Chapel of Saint John the Evangelist. Back to map

This Renaissance-style chapel –also built in 1592– is paired with the chapel of St. Fructuosus in its architectural design, and is by the same architect, Pere Blai. It was also built on the orders of the Archbishop and Viceroy of Catalonia, Joan Terés

The images venerated in this chapel are St. John the Evangelist –carved by Agustí Bennàsser in 1615–, St. Justine and St. Eulalia of Mérida created in 1616 by Benet Baró. The “estofado” and polychrome work on all three are by Francesc Sabater.

Chapel of Saint Isabel

  • Map: 22. Former Chapel of Saint Elisabeth. Back to map

This 15th-century Gothic chapel is dedicated to St. Elizabeth of Hungary. The most interesting feature is the series of polychrome works that were found on the walls in 2012.

Also worth noting is a simulated tapestry with a rhomboid band of swastikas; on the left, the bust of two flying angels above a recumbent female figure probably depicting the theme of the Dormition of the Virgin; and the continuous frieze of alternating floral medallions and heraldic emblems. The clothed sculpture of the Dormition of the Virgin was produced by Francesc Grau in the 17th century.

Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre

This singular Gothic oratorio has a twinned access door comprising two ogee arches richly adorned with crockets, fauna and the coats of arms of the Chapter and its founder, Canon Joan Balcells, and was built in 1494.

It contains the sculpture of the Holy Burial, in which the sepulchre is a 4th-century striated Roman sarcophagus on which reposes the recumbent figure of Christ surrounded by the Virgin, Mary Magdalene, Salomé, St. John the Evangelist, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

The sculpture is in polychrome stone and dates from 1494, as does the central section added to the sarcophagus with the founder’s coat of arms. The pedentive vault is gilded and polychromed with intertwined floral motifs and themes from the Passion of Christ, the work of Francesc Sabater in the 17th century.

Chapel of Saint Fructuosus

It is in the Renaissance style and was started in 1592 following a design by Pere Blai featuring a rectangular floorplan, a barrel vault reinforced with rib arches, semicircular apse with segmented dome and tripartite thermal windows in line with classical Herrerran purism.

The niches contain figures of the martyrs St. Fructuosus and his deacons Augurius and Eulogius, whom the Emperor Valerian condemned to the stake in the Tarragona amphitheatre on 21 January 259. The images were carved by Benet Baró in 1616.

The architectural mausoleum on the right, which separates the chapel from the chapel of St. John the Evangelist, is reminiscent of that of Pietro in Montorio by Bramante in Rome, and the one in the Evangelists’ Courtyard designed by Juan de Herrera for the monastery of El Escorial

Under its dome is the sepulchre of the chapel’s founder Archbishop Joan Terés, who was Viceroy of Catalonia between 1602 and 1603. The sarcophagus was designed by Pere Blai and carved by Isaac Alfred Vermey and Agustí Bennàsser between 1608 and 1610. Supported on corbels and adjoining the wall on the left is the sepulchre with the recumbent statue of Archbishop Antolín López Peláez, sculpted by the brothers Oslé from Barcelona in 1920. The paintings allude to the patron saints of the chapel and were done by Herminio Sentís in 1959.

The crypt was designed by the architect Manuel Lamic in 1978, and contains the tombs of Cardinal Francesc d’Assís Vidal y Barraquer and Archbishop Josep Pont y Gol, a memorial tombstone to the auxiliary bishop, the beatus Manuel Borràs, flanked by another two commemorating the diocesan priests martyred during the religious persecution of 1936-1939, who were officially beatified on 13 October 2012 in Tarragona, and whose relics are conserved in the silver casket by the silversmiths from Talleres Tena in Barcelona.

Chapel of the Immaculate Conception

  • Map: 25. Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. Back to map

This chapel, an outstanding example of the Baroque style, has a cross-shaped floorplan, a semi-spherical dome and a headwall in the form of an apse. It was built by Canon Diego Girón de Rebolledo and planned in 1674 by Friar Josep de la Concepció.

The architectural work was led by Joan Costas and the master Portella, while the sculptures were by the artist Francesc Grau from Manresa, and the pictorial decoration was by Francesc Tramulles and Josep Juncosa. The stained-glass windows date from 1682 and are the work of Francesc Saladrigues.

The altar and the predella on the retable were created in 1678 by Domènec Rovira II, who –together with Francesc Grau– in 1679 carved the tombs of the founder and his family depicting the theological virtues and the liberal arts. In 1678 Francesc Grau also created the polychrome wooden retable that was gilded by Josep Cabanyes between 1680 and 1684.

Magnificent chapel

The original statue of the Virgin was replaced in the early 19th century by the current one by Vicenç Roig y Besora. The iconographic decoration on the dome, vaults and side walls dates from around 1680, and includes scenes from the life of the Virgin, St. Thecla, St. Diego of Alcalá, St. Teresa of Avila and other doctors of the Church.

Finally in 1681 the wrought ironworkers Pere Catà, Miquel Esmandia and Joan Andréu from Mataró created the iron and bronze grille that encloses this magnificent chapel, in a supreme example of the integration between architecture and the plastic arts.

Chapels of the Cardona Family

These twin chapels in the florid or late Gothic style were built between 1520 and 1525 by the brothers Antoni and Guiu Benlloch de Arlés, financed by Archbishop Pedro de Cardona who dedicated them respectively to the cult of St. Mary Magdalene and the Annunciation.

They have a square floorplan which becomes octagonal by means of corner elements into which converge the ribs from the magnificent lierne vaults. On the left-hand wall of the first chapel stands the austere sarcophagus of Archbishop Francesc Fleix y Solanes, carved by Agapit Vallmitjana. The sumptuous mausoleum on the right dividing the two chapels contains the remains of Cardinal Jaime de Cardona and his aunt Timor, abbess of Valldoncella. It is made of Carrara marble decorated with splendid grotesque motifs and imported from Italy in around 1530.

Our Lady of Montserrat

The second chapel is dedicated to Our Lady of Montserrat. On the headwall and standing on a stone base is a 15th-century retable brought from Santes Creus, the work of Pere Serra, Guerau Gener and Lluís Borrassà.

The panels represent scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary. The pantheon on the right, created in 1864 by the sculptors Josep Janés y Manel Roca, contains the mortal remains of Archbishop Josep Domènec Costa y Borràs.

Old choir stalls

The assembled choir stalls previously stood in the centre of the cathedral. In 1963, some of the seats were moved to the current chancel, and the first section was enclosed with the partition walls from the original retrochoir built during the first third of the 14th century.

During the prelature of Don Pedro de Urrea, the magnificent choir stalls were carved out of Flanders oak by the Aragonese craftsman Francisco Gomar between 1478 and 1488. The backs of the choir stalls in the central nave are decorated with inlaid Gothic tracery.

The scrolls on the armrests in the whole ensemble are beautifully decorated with floral, mythological and animal motifs. The pontifical seats located at the head of the choir sections were carved as mentioned earlier by John of Tours and Henry of Burgundy in 1534.


In the central nave of the Cathedral, above the canonical choir stalls on the Gospel side, you can see the organ chest designed in the form of a magnificent retable standing 20 metres high and 9 metres wide.

The design of the chest is an adaptation by the architect Jaume Amigó of the initial design submitted in 1561 by Perris Arrabasa and Salvador Estrada, organists from Barcelona. The whole of the sculptural ensemble is the work of Jeroni Sanxo and Perris Ostris, and was begun in 1562 and completed in 1567.

Its three sections are carved out of Flanders oak, cypress, poplar, elm and yew and closely follow the stylistic canons of the Plateresque Renaissance following the classical order, and featuring decorative medallions and the characteristic horror vacui, all created with exceptional virtuosity.

The three cloths or hangings that concealed the pipes of the tribune or cadireta showing the images of the Virgin Mary, St. Thecla and St. Catherine have been conserved, as have the supports enclosing the central section of the chest and showing the mystery of the nativity of Jesus and his resurrection. And the three paintings in the loft depicting the three theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity. The series was commissioned by the Cathedral Chapter and created by the painters Pere Serafí and Pietro Paolo de Montalbergo between 1563 and 1565.

Órgano Verschueren 

The sculptures on the organ chest were restored in 2012. The new Verschueren organ with its three manual keyboards was installed in 2013 and is perfectly suited to Renaissance and Baroque music. Its monumental appearance, style, ornamentation, the quality of the carving and its period all set it apart as a towering work among the ecclesiastical organs in Spain.

Listen to the organ of the Cathedral of Tarragona

Jordi Vergés plays the Verschueren organ in the Tarragona Cathedral. Piece: «O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß», by J. S. Bach BWV 622.


This is the space where the main longitudinal nave and the cross nave intersect. It stands between the chancel, the central nave and the side naves. It is 52.5 metres long by 15 metres wide. In the epicentre is the dome, which reaches a height of 32 metres at the keystone. It has an octagonal floorplan with a segmented vault, and is adorned with coloured stained-glass windows and supported on fan ribs in decrescendo.

Transition between the Romanesque and Gothic

As with the whole of the cathedral structure, it is in the proto-Gothic style in the transition between the Romanesque and Gothic, and this change in plan can be seen in the truncated cornice adorning the front wall of the crossing or transept. On the outer walls are two rose windows made in star-patterned pierced stonework with 14th-century stained-glass windows. The central oculus on the right-hand window has a scene of the Virgin and Child and four angel musicians.

Queen of Heaven and Earth

The 16 radial medallions feature female heads with marquess crowns, with four squires offering them to the Virgin as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. The central oculus in the rose window on the left shows the Resurrection of Christ and the soldiers at the foot of the tomb; the 16 radial bands have alternating heads of apostles in allusion to the preaching of the Kingdom of God, and ornamental motifs.