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

Nilvanta Kerai (7 months ago)
Absolutely stunning. A must do when in Seville. Every corner reveals another amazing beautiful area. Gothic designs and lavish black and gold intricate carvings. Christopher Columbus's tomb stands in prime position within a spectacular structure. Bell Tower is worth visiting for views. Lovely peaceful atmosphere with plenty of seating to relax, prayer and take in the awe inspiring surroundings. Many side doors leading to different rooms which can be easily missed.
Dai Davies (8 months ago)
Spent a wonderful five nights in Seville in October. Stunning weather ? with temperatures hitting 30C. We stayed at the ‘modern’ Hotel Rey Alfonso X within the historic city centre and simply walked every day. Photos simply don’t do the Cathedral justice it is magnificent. NB Ensure you book a ‘jump the queue’ tour to get most from your visit. NB Climb the tower 34 ramps plus 15 steps awesome views.
Snigdha Bhattacharyya Basak (8 months ago)
Absolutely loved this Roman catholic church. The inside of the cathedral is just amazing and some of the work is breath taking. Best part was Christopher Columbus' tomb. The views from Giralda tower are worth it. It’s about 34 floors but quite a easy climb.  It is truly spectacular and beautiful. Highly recommend on any trip to Sevilla.
Sarah Monica Hepple (11 months ago)
Absolutely loved the Cathedral. I went up to the top of Tower which has amazing views, it's 34 floors high so make sure it is something you can do before you start. The monuments, stain glass windows and the architecture are out of this world. There are plenty of seats for you to sit and take everything in. You don't need to be religious to be taken In by the beauty or any of the interesting history this place holds.
Sean Bryan (11 months ago)
Well, you can’t come to Sevilla without going to this cathedral. Really amazing tour of everything that lasted nearly 2 hours. The inside of the cathedral is just unreal in size and some of the work is breath taking. There is so much history you can feel it. This is a must tour regardless of whether or not you are religious. We recommend a guided tour.
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