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.


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.


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


4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ian Scoble (11 months ago)
As it says on the blurb, this is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and it certainly feels like it. Allow lots of time to explore every corner of this magnificent edifice and work your way through the massive crowds with their selfie sticks poking through the railings protecting each alcove from over-enthusiastic tourists. Don't miss the Giralda tower; a bit of a climb but well worth the views of the city and the cathedral that it affords.
carol joines (12 months ago)
A World Heritage site , this is the largest Gothic church in the world.The alter is magnificent,carved in wood with gold coating it depicts 45 scenes and is the largest in the world. the workmanship is breathtaking in the many domed ceilings and giant pillars.There is an area dedicated to Christopher Columbus tomb and outside the courtyard is planted in over 60 orange trees, The giant ornate doors are amazing and are placed North,South,East,West. The church is rich in history ,workmanship, artifacts and paintings. The only downside is you get a sore neck looking up at the beautiful domed ceilings.
Larry Taylor (12 months ago)
A beautiful Cathedral in Sevilla. The 3rd largest Cathedral in world. A must see on your bucket list. At every turn you'll see great works of art, carvings, a grander example of the highest worship from the past. It's worth it to pay to take the trek up the tower, where you see beautiful views of Sevilla. Breathtaking! You'll be in awe of the massive, multiple pipe organs. Overall, spectacular.
Paul Herman (13 months ago)
One of the world's great buildings. Built almost continuously for almost a thousand years it is today undergoing major restoration. The mix of Moorish and Christian architecture and the evolution over eight centuries of the latter are all visible. A great pile of stones with infinite stories to tell the thoughtful observer. Great hubris and its resulting great art, each ages' greatest aesthetic ambitions, are all in evidence here.
Canadian Travel Review (14 months ago)
Spectacular cathedral. Biggest church in the world by cubic feet. Altar is the largest ever built, and covered with ornate carvings and gold. The final resting place of Christopher Columbus is in the cathedral and his coffin is breathtaking. The building is a combination of Gothic and renaissance influences. Can also climb up the tower which has a series of ramps. I passed but understand the view at the top is great. I bought the audio guide and found it useful, although it is so comprehensive that I would suggest you go to the sights you find interesting and then type in the appropriate number to get info on what is before you. Otherwise plan for at least 2 hours to get through. Make sure not to miss the Chapter House in one of the corners of the Cathedral. Easy to miss, but don't miss it. If the Illuminati exist, this is the kind of room I would imagine they meet in.
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