Seville CathedralJuly 10 in Spain
Sam and I went on a guided tour of the Seville Cathedral this morning. It is the third biggest church in the world, behind St Peters in Rome and St Paul's in London. However, it is the biggest cathedral (neither of the other two is classified as a cathedral) and the largest gothic church in the world. As a cathedral, it supplanted the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul as the biggest in the world when it was completed in 1506.
The cathedral replaced a large mosque built on the same site by the Muslims when they were ruling the city. The city was retaken by Ferdinand III in 1248, and the mosque was gradually converted to a church. But the plans for the cathedral were drawn up and construction commenced in 1401. It took about 100 years to build. Inside it is grand. The huge columns create the sense that one is standing in a huge marble forest with the roof being as high as the sky. The backdrop to the altar is spectacular - a wooden carved story of Jesus told in about 50 ornately carved panels and every covered with gold - 30m wide and 20m high.
The church is full of original paintings by famous artists, including Goya and Murilla, the latter celebrating the 400th anniversary of his birth this year so there are special exhibitions about hsi art in the cathedral and all through Seville.
The Visigoth Kings who ruled Spain in the 5th century were converted from Aryanism to Catholicism by two archbishops of Seville who were brothers. They were canonised as a consequence and there are some spectacular paintings of these brothers who are famous in Seville for this accomplishment (although I'm not sure it improved the spiritual status of the Visigoth Kings at all).
The Cathedral is a spectacular building, bringing together as it did all the very best craftsmen, artisans and artists in Spain and Europe to produce one of the major infrastructure accomplishments of the Middle Ages. It was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1987.
Many famous kings and queens of Spain and buried in this Cathedral. Christopher Columbus is also buried here and his remains are memorialised in a spectacular tomb with four bronze men carrying his large coffin on their shoulders. These four men symbolise the four main parts of Spain - Leon, Castillo, Navarre, and Aragon. The son of Columbus is also buried in the Cathedral because he donated his library to the Cathedral, which included many of Columbus’ original documents and records.
There are two major parts of the original Mosque that still form a part of the Cathedral. The courtyard outside the cathedral was the "sahn" (ablutions courtyard) of the original Mosque. There are beautiful orange trees planted in this courtyard the flowers of which give off a very characteristic scent which is synonymous with Seville. There is also the famous Giralda Tower which was the tallest building in the city until just three years ago, and which was the old minaret of the Mosque and was, when it was built, the highest and largest minaret in any mosque in the world. It was a twin of the minaret in Marrakesh in Morocco.Read more