This contribution examines divergent trajectories of religious governance in Madrid and Barcelona, two cities that have pursued distinct approaches to accommodating religious diversity despite being located in the same national context. Whereas Madrid has dealt with religious diversity under the broader rubric of immigration and culture, and has been largely passive and ‘hands-off’ in its approach to governance, Barcelona has demarcated religion from other cultural issues and developed a more proactive and ‘hands-on’ approach to governing religious diversity. In explaining this difference, our study builds on recent work highlighting the relative autonomy of cities vis-à-vis states in the definition and implementation of diversity policies. We trace the divergent patterns of religious governance in Madrid and Barcelona to differences in their respective political and territorial positioning. These differences have given rise to contrasting objectives, relations with national agencies, and local structures of opportunity for religious actors to enter into the governance process.