Even though it sounds quite a bit as a location in the Middle Earth, Sevilla's Cathedral is often referred as La Montaña Hueca (the hollow mountain) as its proportions are simply mind-blowing. The legend affirms that its designers wanted to build a church so huge that others to come would believe they were crazy. Personally, don't think they were crazy at all, as they efforts developed into the third largest temple of the Christian world, and an authentic money maker for the city (entrance to the cathedral including visit to La Giralda, costs 6 euros). Those guys were not crazy....if anything, they were a bit too high with Manzanilla. ;-)
The cathedral in Sevilla is built on the place where used to be a mosque. This mosque was built between 1184 and 1198 when the arabs ruled this area. Later the christians took over and changed the mosque into a christian cathedral. Around 1400 the mosque was ruined and had to be torn down.
In 1401 the church leaders decided: Let us build a church so big that those who see it will think we are mad. The church was built on the site of the torn down mosque. Some parts of the mosque were saved with the Giralda tower being integrated in the church. (see next tip for more)
It is one of the last Spanish Gothic cathedrals, with the Renaissance style already there. It is the third largest cathedral in the Christian world, after Saint Peter's in Vatican and Saint Paul's in London. The total building surface is 23,500 square meters.
The cathedral can be visited from monday to saturday between 11:00 and 17:00.
On sunday entrance is free from 14:00 to 18:00.
We visited before 11:00 on a saturday though. There were services going on. But if you keep quiet and don't take pictures of the services it is OK.
The great Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Sede de Sevilla is the largest gothic cathedral in Europe. The construction began in 1401 and ended in 1506. The Almohad mosque that had been used as a church since 1248 was demolished, but the Almohad tower, the Giralda, was preserved.
The cathedral is the third largest church in the Christian world, after Saint Peter in Rome and Saint Paul in London, thus the second largest of the Catholic churches. When it was built, it was the largest cathedral, supplanting Saint Sophia in Istanbul, which had held the title for more than ten centuries.
Its first architect could be Charles Galter of Rouen and the design is influenced by French models. The seven naves, its high altitude (44 meters on the nave) and its nearly 100 windows are impressive. It is a building stepped outwardly supported in many buttresses topped by pinnacles.
The choir occupies the central portion of the nave. In front of it, there is a vast Gothic altarpiece of carved scenes from the life of Christ.
The Iglesia del Sagrario (Tabernacle church) is a temple integrated in the cathedral, on the left side. The Chapterhouse, the Main Sacristy or the Sacristy of Chalices keep some pieces of art worth to be seen. There are paintings of Murillo and Zurbarán, as well as works of gold and silver religious objects, reliquaries, and a magnificent Monstrance by Juan de Arfe.
The Tablas Alfonsíes are also kept in the cathedral: a book which contains a series of astronomic tables that provided data for computing the position of the Sun, Moon and planets relative to the fixed stars. They were prepared in Toledo around 1252 to 1270, based on observations by Islamic astronomers and on earlier astronomical works preserved by Islamic scholars. Alfonso X the Wise, son of Fernando III, ordered the elaboration of these tables.
The Seville Cathedral is the burial site of Chistopher Columbus, the famous navigator who discovered America in 1492, sponsored by the Spanish Catholic Monarchs. His mausoleum is on the right side of the crossing. The mausoleum is made in bronze and it represents Columbus’ coffin borne by heralds of the four kingdoms that constituted Spain: Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarre.
The remains of King Fernando III de Castilla (1199-1252) are in the Royal Chapel, in a silver coffin at the foot of the image of Virgen de los Reyes. Seville was conquered under the rule of Fernando III in 1248. In 1671 and the king was canonized by Pope Clement X, known from then on as San Fernando or Fernando III el Santo.
The west façade there are three porticoes: Portada del Bautismo, Portada de la Asunción and Portada de San Miguel o del Nacimiento. On the south façade is the Puerta de San Cristóbal o del Príncipe. In the north façade, Puerta del Perdón (Portico of Forgiveness) gives access to the Patio de los Naranjos. Puerta de la Concepción (Portico of Conception) and Puerta del Lagarto connect this patio with the nave. There are two porticoes on the east façade: Puerta de Campanillas and Puerta de Palos.
The Patio de los Naranjos and Giralda are the only remains of the old Mosque.
Opening hours: daily from 11:00 to 17:00 hours.
Sundays from 14:30 to 18:00 hours.
Entrance fee: 7,50 €.
The interior of the cathedral is typical for Gothic buildings. The central part - a Royal Chapel (Capilla Real) is constructed in the style of Renaissance. The massive lattice closes to retablo which is the biggest in the world. The altar has images with figures of hundreds Sacred and Apostles. They are made from the gilt tree. The altar was created by Flemish and Spanish masters in 1462-1564. There is the statue of Santa Maria la Sede - patronesses of a cathedral in the front of the altar.
Hristofor Columbus's tomb (Sepulcro de Cristobal Colon) is situated near southern doors of the Cathedral. The magnificent sarcophagus is supported with statues of four heralds. They symbolize four kingdoms - Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarra. The tomb appeared here in 1902. However till now there is no confidence that ashes of the discoverer of America lays in Seville.
Columbus died in 1506 in Seville. The urn with ashes according to his will was sent to the Cathedral of Santo-Domingo in the capital of Dominican republic and buried there. In XVIII century the urn got to Cuba. In 100 years the urn appeared in Seville.
The Cathedral of Sevilla stands on the site of the 12th century Great Mosque of which only the minaret (La Giralda) has come down to us today. It was converted into a Christian church when the city was conquered by Fernando III of Castile in 1.248.
Since its construction, the Cathedral of Seville holds the title of Magna Hispalensis, not only for being one of the greatest Gothic building to ever exist, but also for being one of the most colossal of Christendom.
It was declared a national monument in 1928 and granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1987.
The dimensions of this cathedral make it the third largest church in the world after Saint Peter (Vatican City) and Saint Paul (London, U.K.).
Pics (all five show the main façade):
- Main, second and third: Main entrance.
- Fourth: Puerta del Baptisterio.
- Fifth: Puerta del Naciemiento (de San Miguel).
The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Spanish: Catedral de Santa María de la Sede) was built in the 15th and 16th century on the site of a former major Arab mosque. It is a HUGE Roman Catholic cathedral, actually the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest cathedral in the World!
The interior is very impressive and has many interesting details. The central nave (the longest in Spain) rises to 42 meters, 80 chapels, the biggest altarpiece (30 meters high and 20 meters wide) in Spain, some tombs (including the supposed Tomb of Christopher Columbus), 15th century stained-glass windows, and much more.
One of the absolute highlights is the Giralda Tower, which was the minaret of the original Arab mosque. The minaret was 76 meters high, but a Christian belfry was added in 1568 and now the Giralda Tower is 105 meters high. Quite a walk to reach the top, but from there is a great view of Sevilla.
The Orange court yard (Patio de los Naranjos) has escaped from Arabian times up till now. In days of Al Mohad believers (faithful) made ablution before a pray there.
The Gate of Absolution (Puerta del Perdon) are kept as well. Once it was an entrance in the mosque from Calle Almanes.
This door gives access to the Patio de los Naranjos (the orange trees). As such, its not really a door to the Cathedral at all. This gate is part of the original mosque structure. As you can see in the picture the original decoration is retained. Of course, the statues of the saints were added later and are the work of Bartolome Lopez, done in 1522.
The Patio de los Naranjos (Courtyard of the orange trees) is the area just outside the actual Cathedral. As this was once a mosque, the function this patio once served was that of a place where worshipers could wash their feet before going in to pray. This under the sweet smell of orange trees.
Today it is a calm place, a good place to prepare yourself for a hike up to the top of the Giralda or a lot of walking around. The day I was there was really quiet, it was a beautiful little refuge from the hustle and bustle
The Cathedral has five naves (the main one of which stands 36 m tall) and a rectangular ground plan, measuring 116 m. long and 76 m. wide. The transept rises to a maximum height of 40 m.
The last pic was taken through a mirror which is in the middle of the Cathedral used to appreciate much better and comfortably the vaults.
The earliest part of the Cathedral preserved is the Orange Tree Courtyard. It is the only part that survived the change from a Muslim Mosque to a Christian Cathedral (1181 - 1198). Consecrated as a Cathedral in 1218. Such a fantastic history here in Spain!
These oranges are sour oranges still used today to make the marvelous Sevillian orange marmalade. According to the recorded guide they are also exported in large numbers to England for the same purpose.
The Gothic section was completed in 1517.
The Renaissance period saw renovations to the Royal Chapel and other parts of the Cathedral from 1558 - 1568.
The Baroque era added the Parish Church and more capillas (chapels) from 1618 - 1758.
Many of these chapels are beautiful. Worth spending some time walking around and reading the signs in front of them. The capilla Mayor is the largest in Spain.
Modern times have added new main doors and the southwest corner.
Because of the complexity of the structure that covers such a long period of time the AudoGuide is recommended. Cost in September 2009 was Euro 3.50. There are no numbers inside of the Cathedral but you get a map and a floor plan together with the audioguide so that it is easy enough to follow.
You can enter the Giralda tower here too. It is a long steep climb up many ramps to the top - no I didn't do it :)
Christopher Columbus's tomb is here although it is said that only half his body resides in it. The other half is supposed to be somewhere in South America.
Visits permitted Monday to Friday, in winter from 11 am to 5 pm; in summer from 9.30 am to 4 pm.
Those interested may attend Mass.
Sevilla's Cathedral is one of the most awesome religious buildings of Spain; its history, its magnificent architecture, its museum, make it peculiarly interesting. But nothing compares with the charming Patio de los Naranjos (Orange-Trees Courtyard)... Just there, among Gothic constructions, dozen of orange-trees... A party to the senses!
La Catedral de Sevilla es uno de los edificios religiosos más impresionantes de España; su historia, su magnífica arquitectura, su museo, la hacen particularmente interesante. Pero nada se compara con el encantador Patio de los Naranjos... Allí, en medio de las construcciones góticas, docenas de naranjos... ¡Una fiesta para los sentidos!
It is the largest of all Roman Catholic cathedrals (Saint Peter's Basilica not being a cathedral) and also the largest Medieval Gothic religious building, in terms of both area and volume. It is 76 by 115 meters, and was built to cover the land previously occupied by the Almohad Mosque. Its central nave rises to an awesome 42 metres and even the side chapels seem tall enough to contain an ordinary church. Its main altarpiece is considered the largest in the Christian world.
The Cathedral also has a large collection of religious jewelry items, paintings and sculptures, along with the tomb of Christopher Columbus.
Timetables: July and August, 9.30 am-4 pm. Rest of year, Monday-Saturday, 11 am-5 pm. Sundays and public holidays, 2.30-6 pm.
Closed: 1 and 6 January, 20 and 22 March, 26 May, 15 August, 8 and 25 December.
Entry fee: Admission to Cathedral and Giralda only.
General admission: €7.50
Reduced: €2 (pensioners, unemployed persons, Seville residents and students, with ID).
Free: Sundays, disabled persons, unemployed persons, children under 12 years and groups by prior appointment.
The Cathedral in Sevilla, second in size only to St. Peter's in Rome, is a spectacular building from the outside with beautiful gothic spires, the Giralda, and the Puerta de Perdon. Inside it's a bit dark and uninspired although the gold that adorns the main altar is quite impressive as is the carved choir. Some of the side chapels are impressive including the Sacristia de los Calices , Cabildo, and the Sacrista Mayor. And of course there is the supposed tomb of Cristobal Colon, better known elsewhere as Christopher Columbus. The 16th century carved figures in the Sacristia Mayor that are carried in the Corpus Christi celebrations, Pedro Roldan's San Fernando and Alonso Martinez' La Immaculada are impressive works. Also not to be missed is Francisco de Goya's painting of Santas Justa y Rufina in the Sacristia de los Calices.
Don't forget to take a hike up the ramps of the Giralda for great views of the city. And linger a bit in the Patio de los Naranjos on your way out and admire the orange trees and especially the beautiful Puerta del Perdon, a remnant of the former mosque.
The Cathedral is open from 11am-6pm, Mon-Sat and 2:30pm-7pm Sundays during Sep-Jun and 9:30am-4:30pm, Mon-Sat and 2:30pm-7pm Sundays during July and August. Entrance fee is 7 euros and includes entrance to the Giralda.
Sundays are FREE!