Visiting Seville Cathedral (for free)
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Seville Cathedral is the 4th largest church in the world and the largest Gothic Cathedral anywhere. It was actually the largest church in the world when it was completed in 1507, supplanting Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Today it is the 4th largest* with 11,520 square meters.
* Three churches are bigger: 1) the Vatican, 2) a modern church in Aparecida (Brazil), 3) Milan Cathedral)
Highlights of Seville Cathedral
Besides its size, its art, and some incredible architecture, the Cathedral stands out for a few highlights:
The Tomb of Christopher Columbus
Seville Cathedral is home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus, the famous explorer and discoverer of the Americas. He died in 1506 and was first kept in Seville. But in 1542 his remains were moved to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic (his family thought he wanted to be buried in the New World). It stayed there until 1795 when Spain lost control of the island of Hispaniola. It was then moved to Havana and then, 100 years later, moved back to Seville. You can today see his tomb in the Cathedral, held in dramatic fashion by 4 figures representing the four ancient kingdoms of Spain.
The High Altar
The High Altar is the largest and most impressive work of art in the Cathedral. Measuring 20 m high, 23 m wide, it is the largest Gothic altar in the world. Carved out of wood, it also incorporates 3 tons of gold and took nearly 80 years to complete.
The Giralda (bell tower)
The symbol of the city, the bell tower (the Giralda) dates back to the Moors and was the bell tower of the Mosque that stood on the site before the building of the Cathedral. It’s wide with a series of ramps (not stairs) leading to the top. It was designed this way so that officials could get to the top on donkeys or horses. The views at the top allow you to see the rooftop of the Cathedral.
Visiting (and seeing Seville Cathedral for free)
The official website
Regular ticket price is 12.00 €/person.
FREE: On Thursdays, they have a free tour including an audio guide, from 2:30 pm lasting about 90 minutes. You can purchase it on this page, it will cost 1 Euro (admin fee)
Comments on the free tour: The tour is made up of 70 people and it’s pretty cool seeing the Cathedral without the hundreds of tourists that are usually in there. We felt that the tour was a bit rushed but you get to see all the highlights – definitely worth it for the savings.
Guided Tour: If you can’t make it for the Free tour, I recommend this guided tour with priority access that includes both the Cathedral and the Real Alcazar. These are Seville’s top 2 highlights and you won’t have to wait in line.
Accommodation in Seville
A few recommendations: Hotel Fernando III (spiffy hotel with pool, great location, nice views. Good value). Hotel Alminar (superb hotel with fantastic location). Budget options: Hotel Goya (nice little place, great location. Fantastic value for money) and For You Hostel Sevilla (one of the nicest laid out hostels you’ll find anywhere. Really superb).