The capital of Andalusia, Seville, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the whole of Spain, full of gems of priceless architectural value. One of the most representative ones is its Cathedral, Santa Maria de la Sede (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See in English). If you are planning to spend a few days in Seville soon don’t forget to include it in your itinerary and keep on reading.
This Cathedral was built to cover the land previously occupied by an Almohad Mosque in the XII Century. It took more than one hundred years to finish it, as its construction works went from 1401 to 1506.
It is said that when the plans were drawn up, church elders stated ‘Let us build a church so beautiful and so magnificent that those who see it finished will think we are mad’, and so it was. It is indeed the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and it was recognized as UNESCO World Heritage in 1987 along with the adjoining Alcázar palace complex and the General Archive of the Indies.
It is also remarkable that the tombs of Christopher Columbus (and his son Diego) and Alfonso X ‘El Sabio’ are kept inside it, attracting the interest of many visitors.
Its spectacular size and its grandeur are the main characteristics of this Cathedral, but the rhythmic balance and interplay between the parts also stands out, as well as the impressive overall simplicity and restraint in decoration (with the exception of the Retablo Mayor).
All posterior ages have left monuments of unique wealth and style, but these have been restricted to the two rows of side chapels. In the main body of the Cathedral, only the great box-like structure of the choir stands out, filling the central portion of the nave.
Its central nave rises to 42 meters and even the 80 side chapels each seem tall enough to contain an ordinary church, with a total surface of 11,520m2. Some recent new calculations, based on cubic measurements, have now pushed the Seville Cathedral it in front of St Peter’s in Rome and the Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida in Brazil as the largest church in the world. It still a subject for debate though, and many claims it is still the third-largest in the world.
The Giralda is the bell tower of the Cathedral and one of the Seville’s most iconic symbols. It used to be the minaret of the mosque that stood on the site under Muslim rule, which was built to resemble the one of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, Morocco. It is 105 m high and its square base is 7.0 m above sea level and 13 m long per side.
It was converted into a bell tower for the Cathedral after the Reconquista although the topmost section dates from the Renaissance. Its construction began in 1184 under the direction of architect Ben Ahmad Baso, and, according to the chronicler Ibn Sahib al-Salah, the works were completed on 1198, with the placement of four gilt bronze balls in the top section of the tower.
As a consequence of a strong earthquake in 1365, the spheres dissapeared. Later, in the 16th century, the belfry was added by the architect Hernán Ruiz the Younger, and the statue on its top, called «El Giraldillo», was installed in 1568 to represent the triumph of the Christian faith.
This Patio dates back to Moorish times when worshippers would wash their hands and feet in the fountains here – under the orange trees – before their five daily prayer sessions. As you leave the Patio, you will pass through the Puerta del Perdón (Gate of Forgiveness), a stucco engraved horseshoe-shaped masterpiece, that also dates from the original Almohad mosque.
The general admission rate is €9.
There is free admission for natives or residents in the Diocese of Seville, unemployed people, disabled and children up to 14 years old.
There is also a reduced price (€4) for the following groups:
Students between 15 and 25 years of age with an international student card or student card in force.
Minors between 15 and 17 years old, will be able to prove it with their D.N.I or Passport.
Pensioners; over 65 years old, or pensioners due to illness.
The regular schedule to visit the Seville Cathedral is:
Mondays from 11:00 to 15:30 pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11:00 to 17:00 and Sundays from 14:30 to 18:00 hours.
During the months of July and August (except July 17 and 25), the schedule changes to:
Mondays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (box office until 3:30 p.m.), Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (box office until 5:00 p.m.), Sundays from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (box office until 6:00 p.m.).
More info: https://www.catedraldesevilla.es/