“Let a church so beautiful and so great that those who see it built will think we were mad”.
With those words, construction on the Cathedral of Seville began. During the Reconquista, the Spanish exiled the Moors (who had been there since 711) and turned either replaced or converted the mosques into churches. The mosque where the cathedral stands today was demolished to make room for a new cathedral, though the minaret was preserved. Construction began in 1402 and would take over 100 years. Next time your commute is detoured because of new construction, just be thankful that the building will probably be completed in your children’s lifetime. Today, the cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and the third-largest church.
Before you enter the church note the carvings of the exterior wall. The level of detail is amazing, especially over such a large area. When you enter, the size is overwhelming. If you take into account volume (length x width x height) instead of surface area (length x width) this is the largest church in the world. Inside, it is longer than a football field and as high as a 14-story building. To enclose an area this large, the pillars are the size of Sequoias. Lining the walls are chapels, a treasury, and for fans of Christopher Columbus (here, Cristobol Colon), his final resting place. Interestingly enough, he has traveled almost as much in death as he did in life. He died in Spain in 1506, then was buried in the Dominican Republic, which he “discovered.” From there he was moved to Cuba (another “discovery”) before eventually making his way back to Spain in 1902. (Please forgive my PC quotes, but I struggle with the concept honoring the discovery populated lands that led to 500 years of disease, genocide, starvation and poverty in much of the “New” World).
Be sure to climb the Giralda tower. Formerly the minaret of the mosque that stood here before the cathedral was built, it was converted into a bell tower and offers the best view of Sevilla as well as a bird’s eye view of the cathedral and courtyard. The tower was also the inspiration for the Ferry Building’s clock tower.
Know Before You Go
It is open from 11am to 5pm Monday through Saturday and 2:30pm to 6:30pm on Sundays. In July and August, the weekday hours are 9:30am to 4:30pm. Admission is 8 euro and appropriate attire is required. Allow at least an hour for your visit. If you need a break, head over to Parque Maria Luisa nearby for a break.
The cathedral adjacent to the Alcazar, so these two sights can be visited back-to-back, but if you only have time for one, see the Alcazar.