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Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

View of the Cathedral (left) and the Archivo de Indias (right)
State Party  Spain
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iii, vi
Reference 383
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1987  (11th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

The Cathedral of Seville is a religious building in Seville, Andalusia, southern Spain: it is the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the world.[1] It is also known as Catedral de Santa María de la Sede (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See)

At the time of its completion in the 16th century, it supplanted the Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world. Previously, the Hagia Sophia had held the title for more than a thousand years. The cathedral also serves as the burial site of Christopher Columbus.[2]



The cathedral was built to demonstrate Seville's wealth, as it had become a major trading center in the years after the Reconquista. The builders of the cathedral decided in July 1401 to build a new temple, as the ancient Muslim mosque was in bad shape after the 1356 earthquake. According to the oral tradition of Seville, the decision of members of the chapter was: "Let a church so beautiful and so great that those who see it built will think we were mad". According to the minutes of that day, the new church should be: "a work such as good, which like no other."

Construction began in 1402 on the site of a former mosque, following the capture of Seville from the Moors; it continued until 1506. Church workers gave half their salaries to pay for architects, builders and other expenses.[3]

The Sacristía Mayor dome.

Five years after construction ended, in 1511, the dome collapsed and work on the cathedral re-commenced. The dome again collapsed in 1888, and work was still being performed on the dome until at least 1903.[3] The 1888 collapse occurred due to an earthquake and resulted in the destruction of "every precious object below" the dome at that time.[4]

The interior has the longest nave in Spain. Its central nave rises to a height of 42 metres and is lavishly decorated, with a large quantity of gold evident. In the main body of the cathedral, only the great boxlike structure of the choir stands out, filling the central portion of the nave. It is also dominated by a vast Gothic retablo of carved scenes from the life of Christ. The altarpiece was the lifetime work of a single craftsman, Pierre Dancart.

The builders used some columns and elements from the mosque, and most famously the Giralda, a minaret converted into a bell tower. The Giralda is the city's most famous symbol. Its square base is 13.61 metres and a height of 105 metres. It was built as a minaret of the old mosque, although the bell tower and spire top, is Renaissance.

Interior of the cathedral


The cathedral has 80 chapels, in which 500 masses were said daily as reported in 1896.[5] The north side Chapel of Saint Anthony contains the Murillo painting of The Vision of St. Anthony (1656).


  • 1184 - La Giralda begun (Harvey 260)
  • 1198 - Completion of Almohad Mosque (Montiel 12) (Harvey 260)
  • 1248 - Conquest of Seville by Ferdinand III, mosque Christianized (Montiel 14)
  • 1376 - Earthquake destroys minaret, replaced by bell gable (Montiel 12)
  • 1401 - (8 July- Harvey 230) Decision made to replace former mosque (Montiel 15)
  • 1402 - Nave begun- SW corner (Harvey 260)
  • 1432 - Nave completed, east end started (Harvey 260)
  • 1466 - Demolition of Royal Chapel authorized by Juan II of Castile (Montiel 15)
  • 1467 - East end completed, vaults begun. Anchors added. (Harvey 260)
  • 1475 - Stalls begun (Harvey 260)
  • 1478 - Stalls completed (Harvey 260)
  • 1481 - Doorways in high altar completed (Montiel 16)
  • 1482 - Retablo Mayor begun (ALTARPIECE) (Harvey 260)
  • 1498 - Vaults completed, lantern begun (Harvey 260)*
  • 1506 - Main dome (lantern) completed (Montiel 16) (Harvey 260)
  • 1511 - Lantern collapses, rebuilding begins (Montiel 16) (Harvey 260)
  • 1515 - New choir vaults completed (Montiel 16)*
  • 1517 - New transept vaults completed (Montiel 16)*
  • 1519 - Lantern rebuilding completed (Harvey 260)
  • 1526 - Retablo Mayor completed (Harvey 260)
  • 1551 - Capilla Real begun (Harvey 260)
  • 1558 - Belfry replaces bell gable (Montiel 12)
  • 1568 - Giralda, top stages (Harvey 260)
  • 1575 - Capilla Real completed (Harvey 260)
  • 1888 - Main dome and vaults collapse (Montiel 16)




  • John Harvey, The Cathedrals of Spain
  • Luis Martinez Montiel, The Cathedral of Seville


  1. ^ "The other Europe: Cinque Terre, Bruges, Rothenburg, Edinburgh, Seville". Dallas Morning News. 2009-05-31. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  2. ^ "Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville". UNESCO. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  3. ^ a b Gallichan, Walter Matthew (1903). The Story of Seville. J.M. Dent & Co.. 
  4. ^ Ellis, Havelock (1915). The soul of Spain. Houghton. 
  5. ^ Dunton, Larkin (1896). The World and Its People. Silver, Burdett. 

External links

Coordinates: 37°23′9″N 5°59′35″W / 37.38583°N 5.99306°W / 37.38583; -5.99306



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