Cathedral, Historic Building and Mosque in Seville
Seville Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Seville, Andalusia, Spain. Seville’s immense cathedral, which is a World Heritage Site, amazes with its sheer size: it is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. The original aim of the City Fathers was to make something ‘so beautiful and so magnificent that those who see it will think we are mad’.
What to see in Seville Cathedral
Although the visit to the Cathedral may take a lot of time, these are the must-see’s you surely don’t want to miss out on:
The Giralda and El Giraldillo
You can access the 24-bell tower of Seville from the northeastern side of the Cathedral. Access is mainly through various ramps which were made for the guards to reach the top of the tower on horseback. When you reach the top you are rewarded by sensational rooftop views. The Giralda is topped by a 16th-century bronze weather vane named El Giraldillo, which represents faith. The Giralda also incorporates the mosque’s original minaret.
Tomb of Christopher Columbus in the Seville Cathedral
Not everyone knows that Seville Cathedral houses the monumental tomb of the great explorer Christopher Columbus after his remains were moved from La Habana, in Cuba. As a matter of fact, this was only the last move, as they passed from Valladolid (where Columbus died in 1506) to the Cartuja Monastery in Seville to Santo Domingo and the Caribbean Island.
The final stage of Columbus’s bones’ journey ended in 1898 when a marble and bronze mausoleum was built to protect them. Once inside the cathedral proper head right, and you will see the tomb is located near the Cathedral’s main entrance, inside on the left of the Puerta de los Príncipes or Door of the Princes.
The Cathedral’s Real Chapel, which faces east, is dedicated to the Virgin de los Reyes who is Seville’s Patron Saint. In front of the altar, you will find the tomb of King Ferdinand III, who snatched the city from the Moors, while on the side, there is the tomb of Alfonso the Wise.
Altarpiece of the Capilla Mayor in the Seville Cathedral
Even with so much to see here the Capilla Mayor or Main Chapel stands out with the staggering Retablo Mayor, a 1482 masterpiece representing 1000 scenes of Christ’s life and the Bible, as well as an image of the Virgin of the See who is the Cathedral’s patron. It was started by the Flemish painter Pedro Dancart, and it is considered the biggest altarpiece ever made.
Puerta de la Asunción
After enjoying the beauty of the Capilla Mayor, turn around and get close to the Puerta de la Asunción, on the exact opposite. This door is open only during the Holy Week, to let the brotherhoods enter the Cathedral.
Orange Tree Patio in Seville Cathedral
Before exiting the Cathedral, make a stop in the magnificent Patio de los Naranjos. Just like in the other cathedrals in Andalucia, the patio is the remaining of the ancient courtyard of the Moorish mosque. It houses 66 orange trees and a Visigoth fountain in a 3500 square meter enclosure. You can end your visit to the Cathedral by leaving through the Puerta del Perdón.
History of Seville Cathedral
Almohad mosque (1172–1248)
In 1172 the Almohad caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf ordered the construction of a new grand mosque in Seville. It took 16 years to build. The mosque was to be closer to the city’s alcázar (Royal Palace) and was to be larger than previous mosque which was built in 829. The mosque was designed by the architect Ahmad ben Basso as a large rectangular building, including a minaret and ablutions courtyard.
“Christianized mosque” (1248–1434)
In 1401 when the Moors were expelled from Seville by Ferdinand III, the citizens converted the mosque into a cathedral.
Gothic cathedral (1434–1517)
The period after the Reconquista (Reconquering) in 1248 was good for Seville and it became a major trading center. In 1401 the city fathers decided to replace the old mosque with a new cathedral. Work began in the western area as buildings in the grounds where the Royal Chapel is currently located could not be demolished. It was made mainly of stone. Work was finished in 1517.
The elegant minaret, however, seemed too good to lose, so it became the bell tower of the cathedral, which was erected alongside it. The tower’s harmonious proportions, intricate brickwork, and elaborate windows provide a pleasing contrast to the massive cathedral.
Seville Cathedral was the site of the baptism of Infant Juan of Aragon in 1478, only son of the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. Its royal chapel holds the remains of the city’s conqueror Ferdinand III of Castile, his son and heir Alfonso the Wise and their descendant king Peter the Just.
Renaissance cathedral (1528-1621)
During this period works was undertaken in the Royal Chapel, Main Vestry, Chapter House and its annexes. The upper bodies of the Giralda tower are particularly noteworthy, and are the work of Hernán Ruíz Jiménez between 1558 and 1568. They make up the present bell tower.
Baroque cathedral (1618-1758)
The Baroque phase of the Cathedral with the addition of the Parish Church of the Tabernacle and two smaller chapels on the same side.
The last significant works on the Cathedral with the completion of three major porticos and the southwest corner of the building.
The Seville Cathedral appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Seville!
Other names of Seville Cathedral
The Seville Cathedral has the following names: Catedral de Santa María de la Sede, Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See.
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Visiting Seville Cathedral
Tue-Sat: 11am-3.30pm Mon, to 5pm,
July and August
Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (box office until 3:30 p.m.)
From Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (box office until 5:00 p.m.)
Sundays from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. * (box office until 6:00 p.m.)
10€ (Does not include an audio guide, the price being € 4 if requested)
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