Seville Cathedral

Seville, Spain

Seville's cathedral, Santa Maria de la Sede, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and is recognised as UNESCO World Heritage. After its completion in the early 16th century, Seville Cathedral supplanted Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world, a title the Byzantine church had held for nearly a thousand years.

History

The basilica occupies the site of the great Aljama mosque, built in the late 12th century by the Almohads, the ruling Moorish dynasty, of which the only remaining parts are the Patio de Naranjas, the Puerta del Perdon (on Calle Alemanes, on the north side), and the Giralda (formerly the minaret, now the belltower).

Shortly after Seville's conquest by Ferdinand III, the mosque was converted into the city's cathedral. Its orientation was changed and its spaces partitioned and adorned to suit Christian worship practices. The internal space was gradually divided into chapels by constructing walls in the bays along the northern and southern walls. Almost the entire eastern half of the cathedral was occupied by the royal chapel that would hold the bodies of Ferdinand, his wife and Alfonso the Wise.

In 1401, city leaders decided to build a new cathedral to replace the grand mosque that served as the cathedral until then. Construction continued until 1506. The clergy of the parish offered half their stipends to pay for architects, artists, stained glass artisans, masons, carvers, craftsman and labourers and other expenses. Five years after construction ended, in 1511, the crossing lantern, or cimborrio, collapsed and work on the cathedral recommenced. The crossing again collapsed in 1888 due an earthquake, and work on the dome continued until at least 1903.

Architecture

The interior has the longest nave of any cathedral in Spain. The central nave rises to a height of 42 metres. In the main body of the cathedral, the most noticeable features are the great boxlike choir loft, which fills the central portion of the nave, and the vast Gothic retablo of carved scenes from the life of Christ. This altarpiece was the lifetime work of a single craftsman, Pierre Dancart.

The Capilla Mayor (Great Chapel), dominated by a vast Gothic retablo (altarpiece) comprised of 45 carved scenes from the life of Christ, as well as Santa Maria de la Sede, the cathedral's patron saint. The lifetime's work of a single craftsman, Pierre Dancart, this is the ultimate masterpiece of the cathedral - the largest and richest altarpiece in the world and one of the finest examples of Gothic woodcarving anywhere.

The Giralda is the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville. Its height is 105 m. The Giralda is the former minaret of the mosque that stood on the site under Muslim rule, and was built to resemble the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, Morocco. It was converted into a bell tower for the cathedral after the Reconquista, although the topmost section dates from the Renaissance.

The tomb of Christopher Columbus is one of the main attractions of the cathedral for visitors, housing the remains of the great explorer who died in poverty in Valladolid. The tomb itself is more recent, from the 1892, with four bearers presenting the kingdoms of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarra.

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Founded: 1401
Category: Religious sites in Spain

Rating

4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Andrey Novoselov (3 days ago)
A vast Christian edifice built to supplant one of the Moorish treasures of Islamic Spain. In 1172, the Almohad caliph of southern Spain ordered the building of the Great Mosque in Seville. After the city was reconquered by the Christian Castilians in 1248, it was converted into a cathedral that served until 1401, when the city leaders decided to build a new place of worship on the same site. This new cathedral, dedicated to St. Mary, was completed in 1528. Built in Gothic style, it was covered with ornament and carving and filled with sculpture, paintings, tombs, and memorials. Two parts of the original mosque were retained: the bell tower (La Giralda) of the cathedral was built on the minaret of the Great Mosque, and the courtyard entrance was inherited from the Moors.
The Anchovy Diaries (8 days ago)
Definitely worth exploring with a guide- we booked ours through Trip Advisor which also included the Alcazar. We learned so many unique facts, it was well worth the $100 for 2 people. 3rd largest cathedral in the world does not disappoint, even for the nonbelievers. Highly recommend walking up the bell tower for spectacular views!
Rosie Scott (2 months ago)
Great views from tower.on a clear day. Christopher Columbus tomb and artifacts are an interesting display. The gold alter is beautiful
Tiago Soares (3 months ago)
Indeed a beautiful cathedral. Beautiful when seen by all angles and astonishing inside as well. The body of Cristóvão Colombo is inside, or 20% of it I should say.
Mirco (6 months ago)
We visited this area in February and got to know a completely different side of Spain through Seville and its surroundings. Seville, Cordoba, Cadiz, Ronda... it is simply everywhere very beautiful and versatile. But you should come here during the cooler season. Now in July it is very, very warm. February was ideal for excursions. The cathedral itself is very imposing and impressive. What a massive piece of history and what a remarkable building We found it very beautiful and would recommend it to everyone.
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