Learn about la Catedral de Santa María de la Sede. It is the largest gothic cathedral in Spain and in the world. Find out more about its history
Located in Seville, Spain is the largest gothic cathedral in the world: La catedral de Santa María de la Sede. The cathedral in Seville was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Among the many Spanish cathedrals, the Seville Cathedral is a true national treasure.
Legend has it that construction on the Seville Cathedral began at the beginning of the 15th century, in 1401. However, the first verifiable testimonies mention that building began on this famous Spanish cathedral in 1433. The cathedral was built over the space where the Aljama Mosque once stood, destroyed when the city was re-conquered by the Christians.
On October 10, 1506 the last Stone of the dome was placed which effectively culminated the construction of the grand Seville cathedral, although latter work was done including decoration and various expansions. Later, restoration was done on this Spanish cathedral, mainly fixing small flaws that were caused by natural disasters such as the Lisbon earthquake in 1755.
Inside Seville's cathedral are the graves of two of the most important figures in Spanish history: the tomb of King St. Ferdinand II of Castile (1199-1252) and that of Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of America. For many years historians argued whether or not the remains of the famous explorer were authentic, as many believed that his body was laid to rest in the Cathedral of Santo Domingo. However, DNA testing carried out by the University of Granada confirmed that Columbus's remains in Seville are, in fact, genuine.
The tower of the Seville cathedral in Spain, known as the Giralda, is formed by the ancient minaret of the mosque that once stood in its place and now serves as a cathedral's bell tower. The Giralda tower, at 104 meters (341 ft) high, is visible from any point of Seville. According to common belief, the mosque occupied 15,000 m² (161,458 ft²) and was made up of 17 large naves decorated with keyhole arches. The old courtyard of ablutions is still conserved, although it was transformed into the current Patio de los Naranjos. The patio can be accessed from the street through the Puerta del Perdón (Sorrow Gate), a fantastic example of 7th century architecture from the Almohad Dynasty.
Seville's famous cathedral is divided into 5 naves facing east and, since it was built over the ruins of an ancient mosque, lacks an ambulatory, which is a typical feature of gothic cathedrals. The floor is a perfect rectangle, 116 meters (380 ft) long and 76 meters (249 ft) wide.
The central nave is the highest point of the Spanish cathedral and contains the Choir and Main Chapel. These two parts are separated by the crossing which, at its highest point, reaches 37 meters (121 ft) in height. The altarpiece that decorates the Main Chapel is a historically important piece of artwork, particularly the carved scenes from the life of Christ by artist Pierre Dancart. The Choir is decorated by marquetry work, covered in scenes from both the Old and the New Testaments and many representations of aesthetically unpleasing characters.
The side walls of the Seville Cathedral are lined with chapels dedicated to the many saints and other important figures in the history of the Spanish cathedral.
It is also noteworthy to mention the Spanish cathedral's magnificent and priceless collection of beautiful stained-glass windows. They prove to be a historical testament to the art of stained-glass, as the cathedral features pieces that date back to the 14th century all the way through to the 20th century.