In the heart of the historical city of Seville in Spain stands the world’s largest Gothic Cathedral. While other Churches in Spain were abandoned prior to completion due to lack of funding, fortunately, this Cathedral was fully completed.
The World’s Largest Gothic Cathedral
This 23,500 square foot church boasts ornate, ancient stonework, the longest nave in all of Spain, what is said to be the largest altar in the world, magnificent renowned artwork, and the tomb of Spanish Explorer and pioneer Christopher Columbus. Even more remarkable is Seville Cathedral’s testament to the Catholic faith and its dominion in Spain.
A little bit of History…
The site of the magnificent Seville Cathedral was first dedicated to a mosque, completed by the Moorish Almohad family in 1198. Fifty years later, Muslim control was abolished in Seville by Catholic Monarch King Ferdinand III. Plans for the Mosque’s destruction and the building of a Christian Church on the site were formulated. Before these plans could come to fruition, Charles V proposed that a Catholic Cathedral be built on top of the mosque rather than it being destroyed. The Giralda bell tower, the Patio de Naranjas and the Puerta del Perdon are the only structures that remain from the ancient mosque.
The Cathedral’s Completion
The building of the monumental cathedral was a long and arduous process, with a total duration of 106 years. While other Churches in Spain were abandoned prior to completion due to lack of funding, fortunately, this Cathedral was fully completed. Yet, this was not an easy feat. Many obstacles arose during construction, including the dome’s collapse in 1511 and 1888. Even during these trying times, construction was immediately continued until the Cathedral was restored. The Cathedral now crowns the city of Seville and is admired and celebrated by tourists and locals alike.
The Cathedral’s Interior
Visitors first enter the Cathedral at the Southside of the building, through the Puerta de San Cristobal. Tourists can take in the immense height and expanse of the Cathedral which houses a total of 80 chapels. Upon entry, the Cathedral’s interior appears fairly unembellished and simply decorated until the nave and transept are seen.
The high altar in the Main Chapel is the largest Gothic altar in the world, adorning the nave with its intricate design revealing scenes from the life of Jesus, Mary, and the apostles, all plated with three tons of brilliant gold. It took nearly 80 years to complete carving these 45 panels.
The chancel accommodating the choir is also an impressive structure, with woodwork dating back to the 15th century. Seville Cathedral boasts beautiful artwork, the best of which is located in the vestries, chapter house and treasury. Several paintings are completed by local Baroque artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. The Main Vestry (Sacristia Mayor) was designed by Diego de Riano, with stately columns richly embossed with carved sculptures. The dome overhead is sculpted with three rings depicting the Final Judgement. Several exquisite religious artifacts can also be found within Seville Cathedral, including a renaissance monstrance carved using 350 kg of silver, reaching 3.9 m tall and weighing 475 kg. Also housed in the Cathedral is the crown of the Virgin of the Kings, made in 1904. It is adorned with a cherub made from the supposed largest pearl in the world.
Tombs in the Cathedral
The Royal Chapel in Seville Cathedral has limited access to the public, but can still be seen through the grille. The tomb of King Ferdinand III, who was canonized in 1671, is located within the chapel and is inscribed in Arabic, Hebrew, Latin and Castilian.
The 19th-century tomb of the well-known explorer, Christopher Columbus, can also be seen within the Cathedral, supported by life-size pall-bearing statues representing the kingdoms of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarre. The tomb of the explorer’s son Hernando Colon is is also located in Seville Cathedral beneath the back of the church.
Giralda Bell Tower
Tourists cannot miss the stately Giralda Bell Tower, standing about 100 m and crowned with a statue of faith victorious. The tower serves as a symbol of the city and contains Islamic and Christian
elements, as it was first built within the structure of the Great Mosque. After the conquest, the tower remained and was incorporated into the Cathedral. Tourists can mount the Giralda Bell tower and admire the breathtaking views from the balcony at a height of 70 meters.
For even more magnificent views, tourists can participate in the church roof tour. To experience beautiful artistry, magnificent architecture, and incredible history, tourists cannot miss touring the spectacular Seville Cathedral, where a glimpse of heaven can be witnessed on earth.
Tips for Visiting
Seville Cathedral is open for religious services from around 8:00am to 8:00pm Visiting hours for tourists are more limited and are as follows: Seville Cathedral is open for tourists from September to June: Sunday from 2:30pm to 6:00pm Monday from 11:00am to 3:30pm Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00am to 5:00pm In July and August opening hours for Seville Cathedral are: Sunday from 2:00pm to 7:00pm Monday from 10:30am to 4:00pm Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30am to 6:00pm Best time to visit: Late afternoon, but not too late as many sites within the Cathedral cannot be accessed about 30 minutes before closing time. Tickets are required to enter the Cathedral and can be purchased online or from the nearby Church of the Divine Saviour.
How to get there:
From Seville Downtown Tour Agency, it is a 9-minute walk to Seville Cathedral. Head southeast on Calle Zaragoza toward Calle Fray Bartolomé de las Casas for 250 m Slight right onto Calle Jimios for 160 m Turn left onto Calle García de Vinuesa for 49 m Turn right onto Av. de la Constitución for 170 m Turn left onto Calle Fray Ceferino González Seville Cathedral will be on the left
What to Pack:
Appropriate clothing and layers (Churches require modest attire) Comfortable walking shoes
Camera (Photos may be restricted in certain areas)
- Iglesia Del Sagrario
- Iglesia De La Caridad Casa de la Provincia
- Replica del Giraldillo Plaza del Triunfo
- Patio de Banderas
- Archivo de Indias
- Puerta del León