Last updated on November 12th, 2023
A Guide to the Cathedral of Seville
The Cathedral of Seville, with its enormous presence, sober beauty and mystical atmosphere, has fascinated visitors for centuries. It is a fascinating temple for its history, architecture and the huge collection of works of art it houses.
🙋🇬🇧 Small-group guided tour
A guided tour of the Cathedral & Giralda
Architectural grandeur, works of art and climbing the Giralda, the keys to the Cathedral of Seville
The imposing Gothic vaulting, the enchanting Patio de los Naranjos, the bell tower, and the chapels filled with works of art, together with an excellent iconography that includes paintings, sculptures, stained glass windows and delicate goldsmith work make a visit to the Cathedral an unmissable experience in Seville.
7 Highlights of the Cathedral
- The Cathedral of Seville is one of the largest Catholic temples in the world, the largest in Gothic style. It is the departure point of the Camino de Santiago from Seville.
- Access for visitors is located on the south façade, which faces the Archivo de Indias: Puerta de San Cristóbal or del Príncipe.
- There are many more doors, some closed and others reserved for worship or independent sacristies.
- Once inside, tour the chapels to take in the works of art and artistic heritage on display. There are paintings by Murillo, Zurbarán and many others.
- The Giralda is the bell tower attached to the temple. It is a separate visit.
- This monument is easily overcrowded. We recommend a guided tour to avoid the crowds. If you can, book a private tour in Seville.
- The Patio de los Naranjos is another space that is full of history and worth visiting.
The Cathedral is a huge museum of paintings, with works by Murillo, Zurbarán, Valdés Leal and many other Sevillian masters.
History of the Cathedral of Seville
Work began in 1403 with the aim, on the part of the canons of Seville at the time, of “building a church that will make those who see it being built think we are mad”, as is recorded in the popular spoken tradition of Seville.
This blessed madness was consecrated as a cathedral in 1507 and, until the construction of St. Peter’s in the Vatican, it was the largest cathedral in the world. Today, at 76 metres wide and 116 metres long, it is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.
The imposing and superb Gothic construction, the original design of which is believed to be the work of the master Alonso Martínez, suffered an unexpected setback a few years after it was built. On 28 December 1511, one of its huge pillars gave way and part of the central vault covering the transept collapsed.
Alonso Rodríguez, who had held the post of Master Mason between 1498 and 1512, was dismissed and the reconstruction was entrusted to the architect Juan Gil de Hontañón, who designed a new dome in accordance with the dictates of the initial stylistic framework.
The exterior of the Cathedral of Seville
Let’s look at the façades and the doors. All of them are Gothic in style. We recommend walking all the way around the monument in order to understand these explanations:
See the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
West façade. On Avenida de la Constitución:
Puerta de San Miguel or del Nacimiento, on the right, with the representation of the Birth of Christ and sculptures of San Laureano, San Hermenegildo and the four evangelists.
This door gives free access to worship and is the entrance for Seville’s Holy Week processions.
Main door, or Puerta de la Asunción, with iconography of the Assumption of the Virgin surrounded by the figures of the apostles and several saints. It is usually closed. Inside, we enter between the chapels of San Isidoro and San Leandro.
Puerta del Bautismo, which depicts the Baptism of Christ on the tympanum, with sculptures of the Bishops of Seville, San Leandro and San Isidoro, Santa Justa and Rufina, angels and prophets. Usually closed.
Puerta de la Iglesia del Sagrario, usually open.
By the way, the red letters painted on the facade of the Cathedral are the cheers, inscriptions that students made in the most emblematic buildings of the city in order to record their academic achievements. A tradition that was born in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Salamanca.
North façade, which overlooks the Patio de los Naranjos:
Puerta del Perdón, the gateway to the Patio de los Naranjos from Calle de los Alemanes. It belonged to the old mosque. It is adorned with a belfry. On its sides are images of St. Peter and St. Paul. Inside, before the grille, the altar of Christ of Forgiveness.
Puerta de la Biblioteca Colombina, inherited from Hernando Colón, from the 16th century. The doorway has Baroque paintings, with the Virgen de la Antigua standing out.
Balcony over the door, with the painting of the Christ of the Hanged Men embracing the Cross, a figure to whom the condemned men entrusted themselves on their way to execution. Renaissance work from the 16th century.
East façade. Facing the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes.
Puerta del Lagarto, on the side of the Giralda, the entrance for visitors to the Cathedral. It leads to the porticoed area of the Patio de los Naranjos and is currently used for visits.
Puerta de Palos, separated from the street by a grille. Decorated with the Adoration of the Magi, in relief on the tympanum.
Royal Chapel, of which the three semicircles of the chancel decorated with royal coats of arms are visible.
Puerta de Campanillas, twin to the previous one, depicts the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem. Located between the Royal Chapel, to which it has access, and the Sacristy building.
The façade continues with the Renaissance building of the Sacristies.
South façade. Facing the Archivo de Indias:
Puerta de San Cristóbal or del Príncipe, separated from the street by a grille. A replica of the Giraldillo is located there. This 4-metre-high figure is inspired by the goddess Athena and represents the Catholic Faith. She wears a warrior’s outfit and helmet and carries a dry palm leaf, a sign of resurrection and martyrdom. In her right hand, she carries a labaro – standard – which is what makes her turn, marking the direction of the wind – hence the word Giraldillo, for turning.
The first thing you come across on entering is the impressive tomb of Christopher Columbus.
It is the Bell Tower formed by the Minaret of the old mosque and the Renaissance bell tower. See the article Visit the Giralda of Seville.
The Interior of the Cathedral of Seville
Worships and services
The Cathedral of Seville especially worships the Virgin Mary under the invocation of Santa María de la Sede, who is joined by the patron saint of Seville, the Virgen de los Reyes.
Many of its chapels and altars are dedicated to other invocations of the Virgin: Antigua, Dolores, Piedad, Asunción, Purificación, Anunciación, Piedad, Caridad, Consolación, Remedios, Visitación, Consuelo, Inmaculada, Estrella and Belén, together with devotions linked to the Virgin, such as those of Santa Ana and San José.
The chapels are the burial place of great Sevillian characters and monarchs, including San Fernando, Christopher Columbus and the Archbishops and Cardinals of the Diocese.
The Cathedral, unlike the Gothic canon, does not have an apse-shaped apse. Its ground plan forms a perfect rectangle that occupies the space where the old ashram was located and where natural light penetrates through the many stained glass windows.
Of the five naves, the highest are the central nave (36 metres) and the transept (40 metres), while the side naves are 26 metres high.
To counteract this asymmetry, the outer naves are enclosed with grilled funerary chapels between the buttresses, which serve to balance the depth of the transept nave. The 68 pointed vaults rest on 28 attached pillars and 32 free-standing pillars. These stone-covered pillars are made of masonry.
Let’s take a quick tour of the interior.
We will start the visit in the area closest to the tourist entrance: between the chapels of Santa Ana and San José.
INTERIOR OF THE CATHEDRAL OF SEVILLE
In the southern area, (facing the Archivo de Indias)
The chapels are funerary chapels enclosed by grilles, created for the burial of cardinals, archbishops and clergymen of the cathedral, monarchs or private individuals who financed all the expenses of their construction.
– The Chapel of Santa Ana or Christ of Maracaibo. The most outstanding feature is a side altar with a panel by the Renaissance painter Villegas Marmolejo. The Renaissance altarpiece is dedicated to Saint Bartholomew. Point 1 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
– Chapels of San José. The 17th-century Cristo Atado a la Columna (Christ Tied to the Column) by Francisco Ruiz Gijón is particularly noteworthy. Point 2 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Continuing east, the head of the temple:
– The Chapel of San Hermenegildo, where the 15th-century tomb of Cardinal Cervantes stands out. Point 3 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
– The Chapel of the Virgen de la Antigua. Marble altarpiece with a 14th-century mural painting, an ancient and great devotion of the seafarers and the Sevillian people. It is adorned with the flags of the South American countries.
Elcano and his sailors prostrated themselves in front of this Virgin on their return from their voyage. Point 4 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Puerta del Príncipe or San Cristobal:
The Tomb of Christopher Columbus, from the nineteenth century. It is located behind the Puerta del Príncipe (Prince’s Gate), next to the chapel of the Virgen de la Antigua. On the side, a huge Renaissance mural painting of San Cristóbal. Point 5 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Don’t miss Columbus’ tomb
– The Chapel of Sorrows or Santo Tomé, with a baroque altarpiece where we can see the Dolorosa, the work of Pedro de Mena, and the 16th-century Crucificado.
– The Chapel of San Andrés, with the Christ of Clemency or of the chalices, one of the best works of Martínez Montañés. Point 7 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
– The Chapel of Mariscal, separated by a grille, above which is the Holy Burial. The chapel is presided over by a magnificent Renaissance altarpiece of the Purification of the Virgin. Point 8 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Cathedral Chapter House
In the southeast, next to the Puerta de las Campanillas, is the little chapel of Santa Justa and Rufina, protectors of the Giralda, very dear to Seville. Point 9 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Chapel of Christ of St. Paul, also called the Great Conception. Its baroque altarpiece, where we can see the 16th-century Christ, stands out. Point 13 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
It is worth seeing the 16th-century Renaissance Royal Chapel behind the main altar.
Here the patron saint of the city, the Virgen de los Reyes, is venerated and King Ferdinand III ‘the Saint’ is buried under the altar in a silver urn. On either side, are the tombs of his son Alfonso X the Wise, and that of his mother Beatriz de Suabia.
To the right of the Royal Chapel:
Chapel of San Pedro, protected by a 17th-century grille. It has a magnificent altarpiece presided over by the 17th-century paintings of the Immaculate Conception and Saint Peter Pope, works by Zurbarán and his school.. Point 14 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Puerta de Palos or the Adoration of the Kings.
Altar of the Magdalena, Renaissance, next to the ascent to the Giralda. Point 14 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
In the north (Patio de los naranjos)
Chapel of the Virgen del Pilar, with an image from 1500. Point 15 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Chapel of the Evangelists, with magnificent Renaissance paintings by Hernando de Esturmio.
Point 17 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Chapel of the Maidens, with an altarpiece of the Annunciation of the Virgin, 18th century. Altar of the Virgin of Durango, with the painting of the Assumption, a work of the 18th century. Point 18 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Silver Altar, next to the Puerta de la Asunción, a work of the 17th century. A dismountable monument for the worship of the Blessed Sacrament, which is displayed in a large monstrance. Next to it, are the images of San Leandro and San Isidoro, great Sevillian saints. Point 19 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Chapel of the Virgin of Bethlehem, with a 17th-century painting by Alonso Cano. The chapel of San Francisco, with the painting of the Apotheosis of the Saint, the work of Herrera el Mozo, and the altarpiece of Santa Teresa. Point 20 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
The Chapel of Santiago, where we can contemplate the canvas of Juan de Roelas, Santiago in the battle of Clavijo, the painting of the Martyrdom of San Lorenzo, by Valdés Leal and the image of the great Sevillian devotion: Santa Ángela de la Cruz.
Chapel of Scalas or Nª Srª de la Consolación. The 18th-century paintings by Lucas Valdés stand out. The Chapel of Baptism or San Antonio, the most miraculous Saint, with beautiful paintings such as Murillo’s Vision of San Antonio and the Baptism of Jesus:
Point 21 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
In the northwest corner:
– Front altarpiece of the Sagrario Church. Magnificent baroque work where we can see San Fernando in the centre and Saints Justa and Rufina, San Leandro and San Isidoro at the sides. Opposite, showcases with the Banner of San Fernando and the Pluvial Cloak of King Carlos V.
In the Western area, (Avenida de la Constitución).
Chapel of the Jacomes, with a 17th-century painting of the Pieta by Juan de Roelas. Chapel of the Visitation, with Renaissance paintings Visitation of the Virgin by Villegas Marmolejo and the relief of San Jerónimo, by Jerónimo Hernández. Point 24 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Puerta del Bautismo
Chapel of San Leandro. Of note, the Baroque façade which includes the altars of the Niño Jesús Mudo, 17th century, an ancient popular devotion, and of the Virgen de la Alcobilla, a small Pietà from Germany dating from 1500. Interior with Baroque altarpiece with images of the 17th Duke of Cornejo. Point 25 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Puerta de la Asunción
Altars of the Virgen del Consuelo, eighteenth-century panel and Guardian Angel with magnificent painting by Murillo. Point 26 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Chapel of San Isidoro, similar to that of San Leandro. Very ornate Baroque, the doorway, the grille, the altarpiece and the vaults.
The main altarpiece includes the altars of the Virgen de la Cinta and the Madroño, attributed to the sculptor Lorenzo Mercadante de Bretaña, 15th century.
The interior altarpiece, from the 17th century, is presided over by the image of San Isidoro together with San Francisco and San Diego de Alcalá. Point 27 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Puerta de San Miguel
Altar of the Nativity with Renaissance paintings by Luis de Vargas, 16th century. Point 28 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Chapel of San Laureano, with a Baroque altarpiece dedicated to this Hungarian saint, with its stained glass windows and the tombs of Archbishop Alonso de Egea, 15th century, and Cardinal Joaquín Lluch y Garriga, 19th century. Point 29 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
At the front, the Central Nave
This is where one of the most significant constructions of the Cathedral is located: the extensive choir, with large organs.
The Main Chapel, which has four floors surrounded by bars, houses the main altarpiece. This altarpiece, the construction of which began in 1480, is one of the most important works in the history of art, the largest in Christianity, 400 m2 and 27 meters high, with more than 200 images and dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, along with scenes from the life of Jesus and the Old Testament.
In the Trascoro, the so-called Alabaster chapels. To the south is the chapel of Inmaculada with the image of the Virgin, a masterpiece by Martínez Montañes, also known as “la Cieguita”. Next to it, the Chapel of the Annunciation, 17th century. Point 30 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville. To the north, the Chapels of the Virgin of the Star, 16th-century Renaissance, and 18th-century San Gregorio. Point 33 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
On the ground of this area is the resting place of Hernando Colón, son of the discoverer. Point 35 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
Behind the choir, we recommend seeing the altar of the Virgen de los Remedios, with painting from the year 1400. Point 32 of the map of the Cathedral of Seville.
The tour of the Cathedral should be completed with a climb up the ramps of the Giralda, from where we can appreciate the grandeur of this temple from above.
After descending from the Giralda, visit the Patio de los Naranjos and exit through the Puerta del Perdón on the north façade.
The Patio de los Naranjos
It was originally the ablution courtyard of the Almohad mosque. It is rectangular in shape and today its main function is to provide support to Cathedral visitors.
It is entered from inside the Cathedral through the Puerta del Lagarto door and is located next to the Giralda exit. It leads to an east-facing nave with arcades that ends at the entrance to the Biblioteca Colombina library. The orange trees arranged in rows parallel to the arrangement of the water channels that irrigate them are beautiful to behold.
The Columbian Chapter Library and Library of the Archbishopric of Seville are located in the northeast corner.
The roofs of the Cathedral
The roofs of Seville Cathedral can only be visited on a guided tour bookable from the official website of the Cathedral itself. An opportunity to see the gargoyles, the constructive solutions and the views of Seville from this unique angle.