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The Cathedral of Seville

“Let us create such a building that future generations will take us for lunatics”

According to legend, the quote is believed to be the message delivered at the beginning of the 15th century by the ecclesiastical council during the planning of the construction of the cathedral. Stone after stone and more than a century later, an enormous cathedral was erected on the site of a 12th century mosque. The minaret (now the bell tower known as La Giralda) and the Puerta del Perdón (Gate of Pardon) are the only evidence that one of the greatest mosques of Moorish Spain once stood there.

These "lunatics" and their successors created a magnificent Gothic church and reportedly the largest Catholic cathedral in the world. The imposing cathedral is 413ft long (that’s ¾ of a mile or 126m) and 272ft wide (1/2 mile or 83m). In one of my visits to the Vatican, I saw markers on the floor beginning at the entrance of the Basilica showing the relative lengths of other churches. I remember seeing the marker of the Cathedral of Seville on the floor but can’t recall if it was the farthest from the entrance.

A view of the cathedral with La Giralda watching over the city.

Another view of the beautiful bell tower. Two thirds of the tower is in the Almohad (Berber) architectural style.

The exquisite Gothic altarpiece (retablo mayor) in the Main Chapel, carved by Flemish and Spanish sculptors. It has over 1000 carved figures representing the life of Christ.

16th century iron grilles enclose the altarpiece.

Aisle to the right of the Main Chapel.

I was thrilled and surprised to see an Italian presence inside the cathedral — Our Lady of the Cushion by the workshop of Andrea della Robbia.

The monumental tomb of Christopher Columbus. The four sepulcher bearers represent the four kingdoms which founded the Catholic Kingdom of Spain under the reign of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel.

One of the many rich hued stained glass that adorn the walls of the western chapels.

A couple of shots of the rooftops of Seville and the bells taken from the top of La Giralda. My husband took these photos for me since I wouldn't dream of climbing the bell tower. He commented that instead of steps, there are a series of ramps that were built to allow the guards to ride up on horseback. I can't imagine horses riding up more than 300ft to the top of the tower!



The weathervane at the top of La Giralda with a bronze sculpture of Faith. The word giralda is the name given to a weathervane with a human or animal figure. It comes from the verb girar — to turn, to rotate.

This is the gorgeous sight that greeted us each evening as we did our favorite night activity — tapear (tapas bar hopping).

Comments (7)

What an amazing place! I remember seeing those "size matters" measures on the floor of St. Peter's in Rome but can't remember the comparisons - it would be interesting to know where this one was. And I had no idea where Columbus was or that he had such a tomb. Your photos are wonderful!

I agree, amazing!! I find it so interesting that Christopher Columbus' tomb is suspended, being carried by four sepulcher bearers. Another tower to put in my list of towers to climb :) Wonderful photos!!

Annie, I first read about the floor markers in Rick Steve's guide to Rome. I remember seeing them with my son but can't recall the name of all the churches except the one in Seville. I think I need to go back on a fact finding trip. ;)

Girasoli, Columbus' tomb is quite unusual. I read that his tomb was originally designed for his final resting place in Cuba, where he was last buried. I say last because Columbus' body was moved a few times after his death and maybe that is why his tomb is supported in a way that looks like its being carried away. When Cuba gained independence from Spain, his remains were sent back to Spain and the tomb that was intended for Cuba was instead sent to the cathedral in Seville.

Do you keep a list of towers that you've climbed and the ones you'd like to climb?

Maria I have now spent much of the day coming up with a list of the towers I have climbed. It is amazing how easily I get distracted, which is why it took so long to come up with the list. It will take me a bit longer to put it all in a post so that I can add a few photos/links, but I will try to post my list soon.

I only have a few that I really want to climb (with Pisa being at the top mostly because it is so famous) but love just about any tower I come across. Thanks for giving me the idea :)

I can't wait to see the list! Since I can't climb towers, I live vicariously through your adventures. You haven't climbed the bell tower in Pisa? You need to correct that soon. ;)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Maria, this is a wonderful post and I loved all of your photos and reading all of your great descriptions. BTW, tapas bar hopping was also one of my favorite night activity too! :)

I really ejoyed this entry Maria. Each time I read one of your Spain entries it brings back so much fond memories of my trip!

Thank you!

Kathy, somehow I knew that you'd also love the tapas. My husband and I only sat down to have a full meal a few times, we almost always ate tapas for lunch and dinner and in-between meals. Small portions of different dishes is so good and healthy.

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