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Seville: Cathedral, Alcazar and Lonja

Seville Monuments

Monuments in Seville. In the heart of Seville you can find three beautiful and historic buildings. Learn about the Cathedral, Alcazar and Lonja.

The Seville Cathedral

When you walk down Mateos Gago street after having strolled through the Santa Cruz neighborhood in Seville, you will find yourself nearing the Plaza del Triunfo, welcoming you with its commanding presence. Once there, just in front of you is the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Sea, with its unrivaled bell tower known as “La Giralda”. This gothic cathedral is one of the pride and joys of Sevillians who describe it as one of the largest gothic cathedrals in the world and the third largest overall cathedral, after St. Peters in Rome and St. Paul in London.

In 1248, the Christians conquered the city and sanctified the Almohad mosque, located at the site of the present cathedral, converting it into a Christian church. It is from this period that the Gate of Forgiveness (Puerta del Perdón) dates, a gate giving access to the Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Tree Patio), which, along with the main part of La Giralda, remains from the Muslim period.

The majestic religious gothic cathedral started being built around 1403 and was finished nearly a hundred years later. On the façade of the Plaza del Triunfo there are two doors: Palos (next to La Giralda) and Campanilla (towards the center of the building). The latter gives access to the Royal Chapel, the Main Altar and, on the left side, the Cathedral Treasury. The cathedral’s stained glass windows illuminate its enormous space with a magical light that helps make this monument an attraction that must be visited.

The General Archive of the Indies “La Lonja”

Leaving the cathedral grounds through the Prince’s Gate (Puerta del Príncipe), which is in the middle of the west-facing façade and seems to give way to the four figures that carry the monument-tomb of Christopher Columbus, you will find La Lonja, known today as the General Archive of the Indies. The building was built between the sixteen and seventeenth centuries to accommodate the strong merchant business of the period which prevented the merchants from making use of the cathedral stairs to carry out their business, a common practice during the time. Today, the Archive of the Indies (La Lonja) building is an exemplary example of Sevillian Renaissance architecture.

In 1785, the building began to house the General Archive of the Indies, extensive and complete historic records of the conquest and colonization of the Americas by the Spanish crown, a purpose that La Lonja still maintains today. Additionally, the building boasts a study center and is visited by scholars and researchers from around the world.

Royal Alcazar Palace of Seville

Next to the General Archive of the Indies, and completing this unique triptych, is the Lion’s Gate (La Puerta del León). The gate opens way to the Royal Alcazar of Seville, a collection of buildings and gardens that, in its own right, offers visitors a trip through the history of Spain.

The Royal Alcazar Palace of Seville is surrounded by a wall which is a reminder of the building’s original purpose as a palace-fortress that provides a chronological timeline of the Islamic, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods through which it has survived. Today, the complex hosts the Spanish Royal family and multiple heads of states when visiting Seville. According to UNESCO, the Alcazar of Seville is Europe’s most historic royal palace still in use.

Entering the palace grounds through the Lion’s Gate in the Plaza del Triunfo are the royal gardens. On the left side, the Hall of Justice is found alongside the Patio de Yeso, the only remaining example of the original Islamic style in the complex.

Entering the palace through the Patio de la Montería we find, on the right side, the Admiral´s Room located in the so-called House of Trade, the first agency created by Queen Isabella the Catholic to control the merchant trade from recent New World discoveries. Once back in the courtyard, we will now find the Mudéjar Palace, known also as Peter I, after the monarch who ordered it to be built. Behind some surprisingly beautifully crafted artisan courtyards and palace halls we come to the Gothic Palace, the most modern of the whole complex due to its reconstruction after an earthquake in 1755. Inside, we discover the Hall of Tapestries and its tremendous examples of Flemish style rugs.

From the Gothic Palace we continue our journey through some spectacular and enormous gardens. Within the vast green gardens and not to be missed is the Mercury Pond and fountain, a fantastic representation of the Baroque period.

After our relaxing stroll through the sprawling gardens, we exit the complex through the Patio de Banderas (Flag Patio) and find ourselves back in the Plaza del Triunfo, surrounded by the Cathedral, General Archive of the Indies and Royal Alcazar Palace. It is at this moment, as we stand among these impressive buildings, that we clearly understand why UNESCO declared this historic complex of awe-inspiring buildings a World Heritage Site in 1987.