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12 Interesting Facts About Seville Cathedral

Did you know that Christopher Columbus was buried in a famous church in Spain?

In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about Seville Cathedral.

1. It’s located in the south of Spain

Seville Cathedral, officially known as the “Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See,” is located in the autonomous community of Andalusia in the south of Spain. Seville is the biggest city in the region and with a population of about 1.5 million inhabitants, the 4th-biggest city in Spain as well.

The cathedral is located in the historical city center of the city which encompasses an area of about 4 square kilometers (2.5 square miles).

Seville Cathedral

2. It holds an amazing record

Seville Cathedral is an immense building. It has a total length of 135 meters (443 feet), a width of 76 meters (249 feet), and a maximum height in the transept of 42 meters (138 feet).

The cathedral covers a total area of 11,520 square meters (124,000 square feet) and the clock tower has a total height of 104.5 meters (342 feet).

What’s remarkable is that upon completion in the 16th century, the Seville Cathedral became the largest church in the world, surpassing the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

It remains today the 3rd-largest cathedral in the world and still holds the record of being the largest Gothic church in the world as well!

facts about seville cathedral
View over Seville Cathedral / Source

3. The original building in this location was a mosque

One of the most remarkable facts about Seville Cathedral is that the original building on the location was built by the Muslims in the 12th century. Caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf ordered the construction of a large mosque in Seville in the year 1178.

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An earlier mosque that was built around the year 830 was replaced by an enormous new structure. The mosque had a length of 135 meters and a width of 113 meters (443 by 371 feet) and covered a total area of over 15,000 square meters (160,000 square feet).

Seville Cathedral facts

4. Some elements of the old mosque are still present

The old courtyard of the mosque, referred to as the “sahn,” is still present in the cathedral compound today.

This courtyard is now referred to as the “Patio de Los Naranjos” and consists of a large number of orange trees and a fountain.

Courtyard of Seville Cathedral

5. La Giralda used to be part of the old mosque

The bell tower of the cathedral is referred to as “La Giralda” and has become one of the symbols of the. It has the same status as Seville as Big Ben in London, so that means something!

Another one of those fascinating facts about Seville Cathedral is that La Giralda used to be part of the old mosque as well as it served as one of its minarets. It was transformed into a bell tower when the mosque was converted into a cathedral.

La giralda

6. The building was transformed into a cathedral in the 13th century

The Reconquista in Spain was concluded in the year 1248 and Muslim structures started being transformed into Christian ones. Similar to the Alhambra in the area, the Seville mosque was turned into the Seville Cathedral in the 13th century.

This doesn’t mean that the mosque was flattened though. It was simply transformed into a cathedral by changing its direction and the building’s exterior and interior were decorated with Christian relics.

Seville Cathedral interesting facts
Side view of the cathedral / Source

7. Construction of the current cathedral started in the early 15th century

By the early 15th century, the Christians of Seville were starting to get tired of having to go to church in what once was a mosque, so they started making plans to build a completely new church.

The order to build this new structure, which was meant to both serve as the main cathedral of the city and impress everybody who visited it, was given in the year 1401.

It wasn’t until the year 1434 that the work started though because multiple royal family members were buried in the cathedral and there was some resistance to moving them.

part of seville cathedral

8. The intention of the builders was very clear

This had to be the most amazing cathedral ever built. The clergy of the parish of Seville offered up half their yearly salary for the duration of the construction to turn the cathedral into an amazing monument.

The words that were spoken on July 8, 1401, tell the story:

Una tal y tan buena, que no haya otra su igual – one so good that none will be its equal.

They surely didn’t lack any ambition, didn’t they?

It would take over 100 years to finally complete the building after the order was given, as the building wasn’t completed until the year 1528.

Seville Cathedral nice vie

9. The statue on top of La Giralda dates back to 1568

La Giralda was the main minaret of the old mosque and construction of it started in the year 1184. The original tower was completed in 1198.

Just as the mosque was transformed into a cathedral, so was the minaret as it was turned into a belfry for the cathedral in the 16th century. To emphasize this fact, a statue was added on top of it in the year 1568.

This statue is referred to as “El Giraldillo” and was meant to represent the triumph of the Christian faith.

A replica of this statue can be found just outside the South Façade of the cathedral as well!

El Giraldillo

10. Seville Cathedral has 4 façades and 15 doors

One of the most astounding facts about Seville Cathedral is that it not just has a total of 4 huge façades, but all of these façades combined have a total of 15 monumental doors.

All of these amazing doors are beautifully ornamented as was typical in the Gothic architectural style. All of the decorations depict various Christian scenes such as the Birth and Baptism of Jesus.

The main door is referred to as the “Door of Assumption” and is located on the West Façade of the cathedral. Above it, there’s a relief depicting the Assumption of Mary into Heaven.

Main door of seville cathedral
The main door of Seville Cathedral / Ingo Mehling /

11. There’s a huge number of chapels inside the cathedral

If you think that the number of doors is large, then wait until you hear how many chapels are located within the huge cathedral. Seville Cathedral has no less than 80 different chapels inside!

The main chapel is referred to as the Capilla Real or Royal Chapel. In the late 19th century, it’s estimated that a total of 500 masses were conducted in all these chapels combined every single day!

A lot of famous people have been buried in some of these chapels as well as in other chambers of the cathedral. These include various Kings and Queens of Spain and also Christopher Columbus and his son Ferdinand!

Tomb of Columbus
Tomb of Columbus / Pom /

12. Seville Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Seville Cathedral is one of the most important landmarks in the city. It’s accompanied by some other famous monuments such as the adjoining Alcázar Palace complex and the General Archive of the Indies.

All of these have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site since the year 1987 and all of these are some of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Spain!

Seville cathedral fun facts