Located in the beautiful Andalusian capital, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Sea, or Seville Cathedral, as it is known shortly, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. Since 1987, it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the most important landmarks of Spain. Throughout the centuries, this cathedral has experienced a rugged history. But did you know that Seville is also home to another important religious temple? Read on to know which church we mean!
When the ruling islamic Moors, who conquered the Iberian Peninsula from the 8th century, completed Seville’s Great Mosque in 1198, they had no way of knowing it had only a relatively short life ahead of it. In 1248, Seville was reclaimed from Moorish control by catholic Spanish King Ferdinand III. The mosque was immediately christianised, but it wasn’t until 1401 that the decision was taken to erase it from history. The mosque was to be destroyed and a cathedral was to be built on the site instead. Today, the only parts that have survived of Seville’s mosque are the Giralda bell tower (previously the minaret of the mosque), Patio de Naranjas and Puerta del Perdón.
When construction on the cathedral began, legend has it that the clergymen said "Let us build a church so beautiful and so grand that those who see it finished will think we are mad". At that time Seville had become an important centre for trade and the cathedral was to serve as a symbol of the city’s wealth and influence. The construction finished a century later and the cathedral was inaugurated in 1506. Throughout the times, the cathedral has been the subject of a number of refurbishments and extensions, each bearing the mark of the style of the time: Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-gothic, and more.
There's also a legend about the stuffed crocodile in the cathedral. Once upon a time, king Alfonso X had a daughter and Emir of Egypt wished for her hand in marriage. Therefore, he sent rich and exotic gifts to the king and princess in Seville. Among these gifts was a living crocodile. Some say the crocodile lived for many years but some say it languished in its captivity and shortly died. In either case, after its death, a wooden model of the beast was carved, and covered with its skin. This was eventually hung in the corner of the Courtyard of the Oranges, where it can still be seen today. And Emir never got the girl...
But, as said before, Seville is also home to another big church. Within a 10-minute walking distance from the Seville Cathedral, there's Iglesia del Salvador, the city's largest church after the cathedral! Just like the cathedral, the Salvador church was once a large mosque. In both Moorish and Catholic times, this temple was the center of the religious population before the cathedral was built. We recommend visiting the Salvador church, since these tickets also apply to the cathedral and you don't have to wait in a line for as long. You can also visit the mosque's old patio and its impressive interior. The square in front of the Salvador church is also one of the most famous places to drink a cold beer!
When visiting the cathedral, we also recommend you to go into La Giralda. You will have a breathtaking view of the city of Seville at the height of 94 meters! The cathedral usually opens at 11am (except on Sundays, then it opens at 2:30pm) everyday but always check the current opening hours to make sure you can visit it. You can check it via https://www.catedraldesevilla.es/ The best time to visit is between 2pm and 5pm when the Spanish are having lunch and siesta. The entrance fee is only €10 but - as mentioned before - you can also buy a combi ticket with a visit to the cathedral and the Salvador church! During our daily bike tour, you will pass this magnificent cathedral and get more information from the guide about this astonishing highlight of the city and other historical buildings. Get to know more about this tour via https://atdspain.com/en/service/daily-bike-tour-sevilla