Seville Cathedral is massive as it is impressive. It was the first church in nearly a thousand years to dethrone the Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world. In 1987 it received the highest conservation honor of being listed as UNESCO world heritage. Seville is one of Spain's most stunning and tourist cities and visiting the Seville Cathedral is an essential part of any itinerary while in Seville.

Today the Seville Cathedral remains the world's fourth-ish largest church (fourth-ish as measuring the size remains a matter of debate). It also houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus. One day the Sagrada Familia will be the tallest church in Spain and in the whole world and is a must-see while visiting Barcelona.


The Size of The Seville Cathedral

While is popularly known as the Seville Cathedral, its proper name is "Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See" (or "Santa Maria de la Sede" in Spanish).

Some claim it is the second-largest church, while others claim it's the third-largest (size is measured by the internal volume). At the time of writing Wikipedia has it as the fourth largest - so that's official (sic). The larger churches listed are St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, Basilica of Our Lady Aparecida in Brazil, and Milan Cathedral in Italy.

  • Size: Second, Third, Or Fourth Largest In The World

But it still remains the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. But the tallest church in the world is the Ulm Minster in the city of Ulm in Germany (and it's a church, not a cathedral), although that title is soon to be claimed by the Sagrada Family still under construction.

The cathedral contains 80 side chapels - each seemingly tall enough to contain an ordinary church.

  • Area: 11,520m2

Dimensions (Of The Gothic Section)

  • Length: 125 Meters or 413 Feet
  • Width: 76 Meters or 249 Feet
  • Maximum Height: 42 Meters or 138 Feet
  • Height Of Giralda Tower: 104.5 Meters Or 342 Feet

Related: Tourists Who Visit The Vatican Won't See These 12 Hidden Rooms

History And Its Beginnings As A Mosque

It took a little over a century for this magnificent cathedral to be constructed and was built from 1401 to 1506. Legend has it that when the plans were drawn up the church elders stated:

"Hagamos una iglesia tan hermosa y tan grandiosa que los que la vieren labrada nos tengan por locos."

(Let us build a church so beautiful and so magnificent that those who see it finished will think we are mad).

Like how the Hagia Sophia was built as a church but is now a mosque. The Seville Cathedral hides a story of religious rivalry. It is built on the old site of the great Aljama Mosque built during the Islamic Moorish rule of Spain.

The mosque had been completed in 1198 and in 1248 the city was conquered by the Christain kings. Before the mosque was demolished it was converted into the city's cathedral. It was heavily modified and its orientation was changed to the east instead of the south.

  • Aljama Mosque: Stood From 1198 to 1248
  • Reconquista: Seville Fell to The Christain Spanish in 1248

Over time the mosque was badly damaged and was at risk of ruin before the decision to demolish it and start over was made. The remains of the minaret now form part of the belltower.

One of the most notable parts of the cathedral is the massive bell tower called the Giralda. It is the former minaret of the mosque that had been built to resemble the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech in Morrocco. The top of the bell tower dates from the Renaissance.

Related: This Is The Tallest Church Building In The World, And The Fascinating History Behind Its Origin

Admission And Guided Tours Of the Cathedral

Today the impressive cathedral is open to the public and everyone can explore the stunning work of art.

Opening Hours Of Cultural Visits:

  • Monday: 11 to 3:30 (4:30 to 6:00 free audioguide when reserved in advance) | Tuesday to Saturday: 11 to 5:00 | Sunday: 2:30 to 6:00
  • General Admission: 10 Euros (or $11) Per Adult

It is recommended to have an expert local guide to really bring the impressive icon to life. There are even tours up to the bell tower and up on the roof. One can book tours or just by admission tickets on the Cathedral's official website.

Guided tour: The Roofs of the Cathedral:

  • Monday to Thursday: 10 am, 11:00 am, 6 pm, and 8 pm | Friday to Sunday: 9:30 am, 10 am, 6 pm, 6:30 pm, 8 pm
  • Language: English and Spanish

Guided tour - Cathedral and Giralda tower:

  • Monday to Sunday: 7:30 pm
  • Language: English and Spanish

Take one's time while in Seville, it is full of historic things to see and do. While in Spain, travel to Granada as well. This was the last holdout of the Moorish Kingdom and was a stronghold that the Spanish were unable to take for many years. Today it has some of Spain's best-preserved Moorish heritage.

Next: Barcelona's Sagrada Familia Pays 136 Years Worth Of Fines For Not Having A Building Permit