outside a church wall on the way to the cathedral
The Cathedral in Seville is the 3rd largest in Europe, and the largest Gothic cathedral anywhere! It was built at the site of a mosque (of course!) by the Reconquistas in 1401, but it took more than 120 years to build it. It's rather funny to us that they had a letter from the Guinness Book of World Records saying the cathedral has the largest area (126 meters x 82 meters and 30 meters high) inside the cathedral. In any case, it is a must-see in Seville, and we were able to see it because we were on our own schedule and could leave later on Monday instead. So we went there and lined up just before they opened (a short line, luckily), and got inside the Cathedral with no big crowds.
As we walked in, we were impressed right away with the immense interior as we should be.
the entrance of El Postigo, an arts and crafts market, also on the way to the cathedral. They have some pretty good prints in one of the stores.
We had been to St Peter's in the Vatican, which is the largest, but this is definitely pretty close! People are tiny and insignificant in the cathedral, as intended. We walked along and saw the tomb of Christopher Columbus, with statues of four kings as pall bearers. I always thought it is rather odd to be buried in a cathedral, when people go to church, they don't usually think of going to the tombs of people, but they are so many of them in every church! Then we saw the old fresco of Virgin Antigua from the mosque before this cathedral was built, it was very beautiful indeed, no wonder they decided to keep it and put it in the cathedral. The Treasure is one of the most impressive I have seen, with lots of obviously very precious and valuable artwork. And there were several rooms worth of them, so it definitely is worthy of a cathedral of this size.
Crossing Constitution Ave to the Cathedral
The High Altar and Choir are in the middle of the Cathedral, both enclosed behind wrought iron grilles. The High Altar is so big that it's really hard to see anything in detail unless you have binoculars! But the overall impression is probably sufficient, full of gold leaves and carvings, it shows the power of the church at that time and is something "they don't make like this anymore!" The Choir is not open to visitors, so we can just view it through the iron grille. We went around the corner to climb the Giralda Tower, up a spiraling ramp which allowed rider on horseback to go up five times a day to call for prayers when it was the minaret of the mosque. The Reconquistas did not tear down the tower and it is definitely the symbol of Seville, and became the bell tower.
horse carriages next to the Cathedral waiting for customers
The bronze statue "Triumph of Faith" (Christians over Muslim at the time, because the Reconquistas had taken back Seville from the Moors). A great view of Seville can be had from the top of the tower. We did have a lot of people going up and down the tower by the time we went, but I suppose it could be worse.
We went through the Court of Orange Trees on the way out of the Cathedral grounds, and the bricks of the court remind us of the old mosque which was also built of bricks. Be careful not to trip over the uneven ground, the remains of irrigation systems from the mosque days.
After the visit to the Cathedral, we went back to the hotel, checked out and retrieved our car from the garage, and headed out to Tarifa
, by way of the hill towns of Andulucia.