Seville Cathedral

Catedral de Santa María de la Sede

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See  better known as Seville Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Seville (Andalusia, Spain). It is the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the world. At the time of its completion in the 16th century, it supplanted the Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world. Previously, the Hagia Sophia had held the title for more than a thousand years. The cathedral also serves as the burial site of Christopher Columbus.

The cathedral was built to demonstrate Seville’s wealth, as it had become a major trading center in the years after the Reconquista in 1248. In July 1401 it was decided to build a new temple, as the ancient Muslim mosque was in bad shape after a 1356 earthquake. According to the oral tradition of Seville, the decision of members of the chapter was: “Let a church so beautiful and so great that those who see it built will think we were mad”. According to the minutes of that day, the new church should be: “a work such as good, which like no other.” Construction began in 1402; it continued until 1506. Church workers gave half their salaries to pay for architects, builders and other expenses. Five years after construction ended, in 1511, the dome collapsed and work on the cathedral re-commenced. The dome again collapsed in 1888, and work was still being performed on the dome until at least 1903. The 1888 collapse occurred due to an earthquake and resulted in the destruction of “every precious object below” the dome at that time.

The interior has the longest nave in Spain. Its central nave rises to a height of 42 metres and is lavishly decorated, with a large quantity of gold evident. In the main body of the cathedral, only the great boxlike structure of the choir stands out, filling the central portion of the nave. It is also dominated by a vast Gothic retablo of carved scenes from the life of Christ. The altarpiece was the lifetime work of a single craftsman, Pierre Dancart. The builders used some columns and elements from the mosque, and most famously the Giralda, a minaret converted into a bell tower. The Giralda is the city’s most famous symbol. Its square base is 13.61 metres and a height of 105 metres. It was built as a minaret of the old mosque, although the bell tower and spire top, is Renaissance.

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