SEVILLE'S CATHEDRAL

Catedral de Sevilla
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Why visit the Cathedral of Seville?

The Cathedral of Seville, whose official name is Catedral de Santa María de la Sede, is a church of colossal proportions. With its completion in the 16th century, it became the world’s largest gothic building and still today, is considered to be one of the world’s largest churches. Since 1987, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The cathedral was not the first place of worship that occupied these grounds. In fact, the space was originally occupied by the main mosque of Seville when the Muslim Moors controlled the city. In 1147 the ruling Almohad Caliph, whose empire covered the entire northwest of Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya), decided to move its capital to Seville. The new capital soon embarked in the construction of the Great Mosque that was meant to mesmerize all who laid eyes on it.

However, by 1248 the Christians had reconquered Seville and the mosque was quickly converted into a church. After 150 years, the mosque was demolished to make way for a new temple. Thankfully the minaret, known as the Giralda, was saved. This prized icon of Seville was built even taller and became the cathedral’s bell tower.

Magnificent main gate of Seville's cathedral – Spain
Main gate of the cathedral

Besides the Giralda, the only other part of the mosque to survive was the Patio de los Naranjos (Patio of the Orange Trees). In this courtyard, Muslims would wash themselves before entering the mosque to pray.

IMPORTANT TIPS
  • Buy your ticket in advance to avoid queueing for hours & hours. Or even better, take part in a skip-the-line tour.
  • The visit is FREE on Mondays from 4:30pm to 6pm (reservation required).
Patio de los Naranjos viewed from the Giralda – Cathedral of Seville, Spain
Patio de los Naranjos viewed from the Giralda

From the 16th to 20th century, construction never stopped. In 1564, after almost an entire century of work, the largest Christian altarpiece in the world was completed. It contains 44 reliefs and over 200 saint figures that cover a surface of 400 m2 (4,300 sq ft).

Mammoth organ inside of the cathedral of Seville, Spain
Mammoth organ

After the discovery of the Americas, Seville’s golden age financed further projects including several chapels and a lot of artwork. There are paintings from Murillo, Zurbarán and many more.

Views from high inside the cathedral – Sevilla, Spain
Views from high inside the cathedral

Throughout the years, many kings have been buried in the cathedral. The Royal Chapel holds the bones of several kings of Castile such as Peter I the Cruel, Ferdinand III and Alfonso X. However, the most noteworthy of them all is the tomb of Christopher Columbus.

Tomb of Christopher Columbus inside of Seville's cathedral, Spain
Tomb of Christopher Columbus

Today, in addition to admiring the cathedral’s impressive interior, it’s also possible to walk the 100 m (330ft) up the Giralda’s ramp (yes, a ramp, there are no stairs) to enjoy unobstructed views of the city. Visiting the Giralda is included in the regular admission price for the cathedral, however, be aware that there is often a long line that snakes its way to the very top.

Gate to the Orange Trees Patio in Seville's cathedral, Spain
Gate to the Orange Trees Patio

If you want to see even more of the cathedral, then you might be interested in taking part in a guided tour of the rooftop. Before getting to the roof, you will walk along passages that are suspended in the cathedral’s ceiling, giving you the chance to view it from a whole other perspective. For more information, check out the cathedral tickets & opening times page.

Rooftop tour views in Seville's cathedral, Spain
Rooftop tour views

FESTIVITIES CELEBRATED IN SEVILLE'S CATHEDRAL

Corpus Christi (60 days after the Easter Resurrection Sunday) – Procession throughout the city with participants from all religious brotherhoods. It begins at the cathedral at 8:30am.

Virgen de los Reyes (August 15th) – In the morning, there is a procession with the statue of the Virgen de los Reyes, one of Seville’s patron saints. The procession lasts over 2 hours. The rest of the year, the statue is exhibited at the Royal Chapel inside of the cathedral.

Day of San Fernando (May 30th) – Celebrations in honor of another one of the city’s patron saints. There is a religious ceremony (including a procession) in the interior of the cathedral, ending at the tomb of Ferdinand III in the Royal Chapel. On that day, the tomb is kept open and visitors can see his mummy.

Danza de los Seises – A group of 10 children wearing 16th century clothing perform some sacred dances in front of the main altar. It happens 3 times a year: during the Octave of Corpus Christi, the Octave of Immaculate Conception (December 8 - 15 ) and during the three days before Ash Wednesday.

Cathedral after dark seen through a Moorish gate – Seville, Spain
Cathedral seen through a Moorish gate

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