The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See is the main Cathedral of Seville. Consecrated in 1507, it is the third largest church in the world and the largest gothic church. As well as its neighbor, the Alcazar Castle, it was registered in the UNESCO World Heritage SIte in 1987. The neighborhood near the cathedral, spanning from El Arenal to the barrio of Santa Cruz, is one of the most beautiful in Andalusia.
Seville Cathedral took over a century to complete after construction first began in 1401. The Church Elders had aimed to build the most beautiful and magnificent cathedral possible and few would argue that they achieved their aim. None were still alive of course to see its completion. The site was that of a former 12th Century mosque that had been built by the Moors. Remnants of that still stand today; Patio de las Naranjas, Puerta del Perdon and the Giralda. The total area is in excess of 11,500 square meters which matches St. Peter’s in Rome and the Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida in Brazil. At 42 meters high, the Cathedral of Seviile dominates the immediate skyline. The Cathedral resists the temptation to be too elaborate and, in some ways, its simplicity adds to its impressiveness. Only in the "Retablo Mayor" you will find decorations that could even approach the level of being excessive.
On entering Seville Cathedral’s Great Chapel, you will immediately see the huge altar, the Retablo Mayor, which has 45 carvings depicting the life of Christ. It is evidence of the skill of the craftsman who created it, Pierre Dancart. Few will disagree with the assertion that it is the most impressive piece of Gothic woodcarving anywhere in the world. There are a number of rooms designed by one of Spain’s most eminent architects from the Renaissance Period, Diego de Riano that date back to 1530, two decades after the Cathedral was consecrated. The chapter house is the next place you will reach on your tour of the Cathedral. The domed ceiling is a beauty to behold and there are several paintings by Murillo. Next door is the Sacrista Mayor where you will find the Treasury and its many silver items as well as the keys that were handed over to Fernando when he took the City. The Moors, however, left their mark with an inscription in Arabic translated as 'May Allah render eternal the dominion of Islam in the city.' There is a major tomb in the Cathedral, that of Christopher Columbus which has been there since 1892. Columbus actually died in poverty in Valladolid. While other cities have claimed that they hold his remains, DNA Has proved that his final resting place is Seville Cathedral. In complete contrast, you will also see a stuffed crocodile which was a present from the Sultan of Egypt on seeking the hand of Alfonso X’s daughter, Berenquela, in marriage. That wedding did not take place but the crocodile was not returned and is a little bit of fun, especially for children, in a serious religious landmark. As you exit, you will go through the large courtyard, a place where Muslims would wash before prayers in Moorish times. The Giralda is the Bell Tower in the Cathedral from which there are some wonderful views. It was actually a minaret in the mosque that once stood on this site. The fountains under the orange trees have been left there, as has the statue in the shape of a horseshoe which predates the cathedral. There are extensive visiting hours to the Cathedral every day though they vary if there is any special service. You can take a guided tour if you wish or use audio to learn more about the Cathedral. Anyone is allowed to attend mass in the Cathedral of course.