Entrance Gate, April 2017. “Seen one cathedral, seen them all!” I overheard an American tourist say as I strolled through the historical centre in Seville. I’m not sure I agree. I have never been nor will I ever be anything approaching religious. And yet whenever I’m on my travels I always take the time to stop by the local churches, basilicas and cathedrals. I like the quiet more than anything else, the weighty sense of history and the incredible art. I’ve seen a bucket load of churches over the years and I always feel like each new one brings something different. Seville’s Cathedral is an immense old structure; one of the largest Christian churches in the world. The queues that form at this entrance gate can get crazy, winding all the way around the structure and out of sight. I got there on a Saturday morning about half an hour ahead of opening time to find a hundred or so people ahead of me.
Christopher Columbus Tomb, April 2017. The seen one cathedral, seen ‘em all faux pas seems especially erroneous when you come face to face with the monumental tomb of Christopher Columbus, which contains the great explorer’s ancient bones. Brought over from Cuba in 1898, today the tomb stands in a dramatic location inside Puerta del Príncipe (Door of the Prince) to the side of a mammoth painting of Saint Christopher.
Capilla Mayor, April 2017. It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that it took over a century to construct the place. “Let us build a church so beautiful and so magnificent that those who see it finished will think we are mad,” stated the church elders back in 1401. The moment you cast your eyes over the altar in the main chapel you’ll see they weren’t kidding around! This is the largest altarpiece in the world, a dazzling expanse of gilt and polychromed wood featuring over a thousand carved biblical figures.
Cabildo, April 2017. There are a warren of fascinating chambers and corridors running off the main chapel. The Sacristía Mayor shows off a selection of precious paintings, while the beautifully domed chapter house in the southeastern corner has everyone craning their necks for the masterpiece painting La Inmaculada. This connecting corridor between the two, simply titled Cabildo, served as a perfect opportunity to rest for a minute or two, let the human traffic pass and gather one’s thoughts.
Giralda Bell Tower, April 2017. Hit the cathedral’s northeastern corner for the passage up to the belfry of the Giralda tower. Instead of the usual stone steps, you ascend via a series of ramps that were originally designed to enable guards to trot up on horseback. The tower stands at one hundred four meters and provides wonderful views across the city and the cathedral’s pretty Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Tree courtyard).