Seville’s Cathedral and the Alcázar

According to the legend, the builders of the Cathedral declared: “Let us create such a building that future generations will take us for lunatics.” The enormity of the Cathedral certainly does border on madness. It is the largest Gothic cathedral in Europe and one of the world’s largest churches. It took more than 100 years to build it. Much of the gold looted in Latin America went into this very edifice. The Cathedral occupies the spot of an earlier pre-Reconsquista Grand Mosque – only the Giralda and the orange gardens remain from that time.

The entrance:

To give an idea of the Cathedral’s size, here is a look at it from the Giralda:

Monumental indeed.

A giant gold-covered altar – the largest in the world.

An intricate ceiling:

A mirror is installed apparently for selfies:

The tomb of Columbus. Actually, the Cathedral of Santo Domingo in Dominican Republic also claims to house the earthly remains of the great explorer. The truth is that the bones of Columbus have travelled around for various reasons and so there was ample opportunity for confusion to arise. Nowadays the most widely accepted theory is that both Seville and Santo Domingo have a justified claim – most likely the bones have been separated and there are some in each Cathedral.

The four human figures holding up the sarcophagus symbolise the four kingdoms that formed Spain at the time.

A ceiling in a chapel.

These are the keys of Seville, given over to the Castilian king when he took Seville in 1248 from the Moors.

An original flag of Castilla and Leon which was used in that victorious war. We can indeed see a castle and a lion.

The Giralda is so tall it can be seen almost from any point in Seville. The Moors built it in imitation of the Qutubia Mosque in Marrakesh, and it was the minaret of Seville’s Grand Mosque. The Christians converted it into a bell tower.

The height is 104 metres.

The Giralda is remarkable for its interior – it boasts an internal causeway sufficiently wide that it can be climbed on a horse. Indeed as you climb up, you walk on a slightly inclined floor without any steps all the way to the top.

The top observation desk inside the Giralda, offering quite a view of Seville:

The view:

The bullfighting arena:

The visit ends in an orange orchard. The exit:

The Alcázar is the second major sight of Seville. This ruler’s castle-palace is unusual for being built by the Spanish, even though the style is very much Moorish. Indeed most of the artisans who worked on the palace were Muslims sent by the Sultan of Granada, who was a great friend of the King of Castilla at the time, Pedro I.

The entrance of the Alcázar:

The main courtyard inside the Alcázar and the entrance to the King’s rooms:

Looking back at the main entrance.

The royal rooms. The Alcázar remained a royal palace for over 700 years and part of it is still used by the Spanish royal family as their residence in Seville. This is where the wedding of Charles Quint took place.

The incredible ceiling in the so-called Red Room, or the Hall of the Ambassadors. The famous story of this room is that Pedro I murdered here the Sultan of Granada who had usurped the throne of Granada from his friend, a once and future Sultan.

A giant exotic park is attached to the Alcázar.

The Alcázar in Seville leaves a very different impression than the Alhambra in Granada. The Alhambra’s location is more picturesque and the whole ensemble is almost written into the nature. At the same time the Alcázar appears more bright, festive, cosy, and of course it is surprising and astonishing that such luxury and beauty and tranquillity are located in the very centre of a large and hectic city.

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