In 1401 the city's chapter resolved to "build another church so good that is shall be without equal and the authority and grandeur of Seville".

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Seville Cathedral

Seville Cathedral

In 1401 the city's chapter resolved to "build another church so good that is shall be without equal and the authority and grandeur of Seville and her church will be respected and served as reason demands."

It is the third largest cathedral in the world after Saint Peter's in Rome and Saint Paul's in London. Sixty pillars support its 68 ribbed vaults. It boasts more than 30 chapels and other spaces such as the Ornaments Room, the Antechapter, the Chapter House, the Main Sacristy, the Sacristy of the Chalices, the Choir and numerous altars.

A work of five centuries

Una obra de cinco siglos Seville Cathedral was built upon what was formerly the main Almohad mosque. In 1401 the city's chapter resolved to "build another church so good that is shall be without equal and the authority and grandeur of Seville and her church will be respected and served as reason demands." Seville Cathedral has an overwhelming art collection, with the works of sculptors such as Mercadante, Fancelli and Montañés and painters such as Campaña, Zurbarán and Goya. Statuary and painting apart, there is also the choir stalls' extraordinary wood carving, the Baroque organ, the stained glass windows, the ceramics, the rich collection of choral books, of sacred ornaments etc. The Cathedral's Shrovetide liturgy radiates splendour during the triduum, during the octaves of Corpus Christi and the Immaculate Conception with the unique dance performed at the High Altar by the Seises, group of boys dressed in Renaissance attire, who execute a slow Renaissance dance in honour of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Since 1902, the remains of Christopher Columbus have been resting in the tomb designed for them by Arturo Melida.
A work of five centuries It has a five-nave plan with chapels in between the buttresses and a flat upper part. Its construction in stone breaks with the Mudejar tradition of building with bricks. The architect of the cathedral is unknown and little is known about the various masters who took part in the construction works. It is believed that the original design could have been carried out by the master builder of the Cathedral at the end of the 14th century, Alonso Martínez or by the masters Isambret and Carlin, who worked on the project from 1434. However, there are other names on the list of designers such as Juan Norman, Juan de Hoces, Simón de Colonia, Alonso Rodríguez or Gil de Hontañón, who completed the construction of the Gothic part of the cathedral. During the 16th century, the religious power of Seville's Chapter house and its humanist ideas were mirrored in various adjacent quarters in Renaissance style which were constructed by architects such as Diego de Riaño, Martín de Gaínza, Hernán Ruiz II and Asensio de Maeda. During the centuries that followed, further additions were made to the cathedral including the Office Pavilion which was completed in 1929.

The Giralda

Between 1558 and 1568, Hernán Ruiz II built the inspired renaissance bell tower which fuses with the Muslim patterns.

The Giralda It was designed in 1184 by Ahmad ibn Baso, who - as can be seen in the base of the tower - brought Roman ashlars to build its foundations. His successor, Alí de Gomara, used bricks and decorated the walls with the diamond-shaped high-reliefs known as "sebka" whilst adding pairs of windows with alternating lobed or horseshoe arches. To commemorate the victory of Alarcos, the tower was finished off with four golden apples, which was completed in 1198. An earthquake in 1356 knocked it down and, in 1400, it was replaced by a belfry which housed the bells of the first public clock in Spain. Between 1558 and 1568, Hernán Ruiz II built the inspired renaissance bell tower which fuses with the Muslim patterns.
The Giralda It is made up of the body of the bell room which maintains the same width as the former minaret. The spaces between its thirteen pilasters are decorated with differently shaped black tiles. On top of this there are brick pillars which leave five gaps on each side. The central gap is topped by an arch while the other four have lintels with an oculo (circular aperture) above each one. A parapet is mounted on this with bell glasses and urns popularly known as “carambolas”. There is a bronze sphere in each corner with lily stalks which symbolises the Chapter of the cathedral. A bell dating from 1400 is located in the bell room. The following epigraph is found on the frieze “TURRIS FORTISSIMA NOMEN DNI PROBERBI8”, from the 18th proverb: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower”. The welled body has eight pillars with black tiles and, finally, the round body is used as a base for the weather vane, the Giraldillo. It was designed by Luis de Vargas, a model was made by Juan Bautista Vázquez “el Viejo” and it was cast in bronze by Bartolomé Morel. It is one of the most remarkable pieces of the Spanish renaissance and transposes the mythological model of Palas Atenea to the Christian faith. The Giralda is 96 metres tall and has 35 ramps which lead the way up to the bell tower.

The doorways

The cathedral can be accessed through any of its nine doorways, or Puertas.

Puertas The cathedral can be accessed through any of its nine doorways, or Puertas. At the foot of the cathedral, we find the Puerta del Bautismo and the Puerta del Nacimiento. The statue work is by Mercadante de Bretaña and Millán from the 15th century. The Puerta de la Asunción is made by Rosales (1829-1831). At the upper end of the cathedral we have the Puerta de Palos and the Puerta de las Campanillas, both are the work of Florentín (1520-1523). The Puerta de la Concepción (1895-1927) and the Puerta del Príncipe (1887-1895), in the transept are both the work of Fernández Casanova. The Puerta del Sagrario and the Puerta del Lagarto make up a total of nine doorways to the cathedral.
Puertas The Puerta del Nacimiento is also known as the Puerta de San Miguel, due to its proximity to the college of the same name, which is now closed. The nativity is carved on the tympanum and there are carvings of seated prophets and angels with musical instruments. It is finished off with six statues representing San Juan, San Marcos, San Laureano, San Mateo, San Lucas and San Hermenegildo. They are all the work of Lorenzo Mercadante (1464-1467), except the two prophets which are creations of Mercadante’s disciple Pedro Millán, who carried on his work. The Puerta del Bautismo was built by Carlín around 1450. The sculptures are works of Pedro Millán and Lorenzo Mercadante. The latter’s six Sevillian saints, located at either side of the entrance, are of particular interest. The Puerta de la Adoración de los Reyes, also known as the Puerta de los Palos, dates from 1480. The clay statue work by Miguel Florentín and Miguel Perrín is from 1520.

Glass windows

Seville's cathedral boasts the best collection of Renaissance-style stained glass windows in Spain.

Cathedral boats The torrid Sevillian light enters the Cathedral through more than 100 stained glass windows. They filter a shaded light that invades the temple diagonally, blends in with penumbra and creates a pleasant atmosphere rich in nuances which invites one to meditate whilst walking around the cathedral's naves. The oldest windows are decorated with typical gothic tracery, an element that is no longer present in the renaissance style. They depict religious scenes and characters. Seville's cathedral boasts the best collection of Renaissance-style stained glass windows in Spain. The first ones were designed by Enrique Alemán (1478-1483) who was followed by a series of masters including: Juan Jacques (1510-1520), Arnao de Vergara (1525-1536) -promoter of the Renaissance style also followed by his brother Arnao de Flandes (1534-1557)-, Carlos de Brujas (1558) and Vicente Menardo (1560-1578).

The main altarpiece

Main altarpiece Started in 1480 and finished in 1564, the main altarpiece was designed by the Flemish artist Pierre Dancart, next to him numerous artists took part in its completion. Its sumptuousness creates the illusion of a luminous golden waterfall. Only by looking carefully one can grasp the whole iconography of the scene depicted. Gothic in style, it does however have some Renaissance touches. The altarpiece is presided over by the Virgin of La Sede, a magnificent 13th century icon carved in wood and completely silver plated except for her hands and head. At either side of the Virgin are reliefs depicting unusual sights of the city and the Cathedral itself.
Main altarpiece An awning in Mudejar appearance decorated with intertwined octagonal patterns covers the altarpiece, whose central theme is the lives of Christ and the Virgin. Above that is a girder containing the sculptures of the Apostles and the Quinta Angustia. The altarpiece is completed with various magnificent 15th century figures of the Cristo del Millón, the Virgin and San Juan. The Capilla Mayor (Main Chapel) is enclosed with magnificent railings in renaissance style.

Virgen de la Antigua

Following Christopher Columbus, who named one of the islands he discovered after her, those who travelled to America prayed before her.

Virgen de la Antigua The revered image of the Virgen de la Antigua dates from the 14th century and takes after the model of the Byzantine “Virgen Conductora” where Mary appears as Jesus’ guide. The Virgin Mary’s posture imitates the leaning of the marble figures. A woman prays at her feet, possibly Leonor de Alburquerque, the wife of Fernando de Antequera. Following Christopher Columbus, who named one of the islands he discovered after her, those who travelled to America prayed before her and spread their devotion for her throughout the continent. This is the reason why, in 1929, the flags of the countries of America were unfurled and to this day are still flying in the chapel. The sepulchre of cardinal Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, completed by Fancelli in 1508, is also of special interest. Opposite, Duque Cornejo carved the sepulchre of Salcedo y Azcona imitated its style.

Cardenal Cervantes

It holds sepulchres of great artistic interest such as that of cardinal Cervantes.

Cardenal Cervantes One of the uses of the cathedral is that of funerals. It holds sepulchres of great artistic interest such as that of cardinal Cervantes, completed in 1458 by Mercadante and located in the chapel of San Hermenegildo.

The Royal Chapel

The Virgin of Los Reyes enjoys a lot of popular devotion and affection among the townspeople who take her out for a procession on the morning of the 15th of August.

Royal Chapell The Royal Chapel was designed in 1551 by Martín de Gaínza. The cupola decorated with busts was added after Gainza's death by Hernán Ruiz II in 1557. The chapel is presided over by the Virgin of Los Reyes, the patron saint of the Archdiocese of Seville. The image, dating from the 13th century, is probably French in origin and is believed to have been a gift from King Luis of France to his cousin King San Fernando. The Virgin is clothed and her head and arms originally moved through an internal mechanism. An inscription on the upper part of her altar explains the reason for her name: "She for whom the kings reign".
Royal Chapel The Virgin of Los Reyes enjoys much popular devotion and affection among the townspeople who take her out for a procession on the morning of the 15th of August. The silver urn (1690-1701), a work by Juan Laureano de Pina, contains the mummified body of King San Fernando (1201-1252), who conquered the city in 1248 and is topped by the crown donated by Felipe V. The sepulchre of Alfonso X, the Wise, is to be found on the side of the Chapel next to that of his mother, Beatriz de Suabia (his heart and entrails are kept in Murcia's cathedral). Underneath the main altar lies the crypt containing the remains of Pedro I, his wife María de Padilla, and other members of the royal family.

The Main Sacristy

The Main Sacristy, designed in 1528 by Diego de Riaño, is a large open space with the intricate and lavish decoration which is typical of the Plateresque style.

The Main Sacristy The Main Sacristy, designed in 1528 by Diego de Riaño, is a large open space with the intricate and lavish decoration which is typical of the Plateresque style. The images represent a complex sequence of events from Genesis to the Apocalypse. After Riaño's death in 1534, work was continued by Martín de Gaínza who finally finished in 1543. The sacristy's layout is in the shape of a Greek cross and is covered by a cupola supported by pendentives. The shafts of the columns and pilasters are decorated with grotesques and the images depicted in the cornice represent the virtues, the forefathers of the Church and saints from Seville.
The Main Sacristy The figures on the vaulted ceiling include judges, priests, bishops, and the apostles. The cupola is decorated with a scene of the Final Judgement whilst God the Father is depicted on the lantern. In the head of the sacristy is a triple chapel with reliefs depicting the Ascension, to which the Cathedral is dedicated. It houses a valuable collection of works of art including: the Descent by Pedro de Campaña (1548), San Isidoro and San Leandro by Murillo (1645), Santa Teresa by Zurbarán (1650), The martyrdom of San Lorenzo by Luca Giordano (1655), the Immaculate Conception by Alfonso Martínez (17th century), San Fernando by Pedro Roldán (1671)... Also in the Sacristy is the magnificent Custodia (1580-1587), a renaissance monstrance in silver made by Juan de Arfe which is 4 metres high and is taken out for a procession through the main streets of the city during the Corpus Christi festivities.

Sala Capitular

It was designed by Hernán Ruiz II around 1561. Its innovative design was inspired by the famous "Architectural Treaty" by the Italian Sebastiano Serlio.

Sala Capitular The Sala Capitular, in mannerist style, was designed by the brilliant artist Hernán Ruiz II around 1561 and was completed by Alonso de Maeda in 1592. Its innovative design was inspired by the famous "Architectural Treaty" by the Italian Sebastiano Serlio. Equally, the drawing on the floor is similar to that designed by Michel Angelo in Capitol Square, Rome. All around the room is a magnificent collection of reliefs depicting the religious principles of humanist canon Francisco Pacheco which are explained by inscriptions in Latin.
Sala Capitular Carved between 1582 and 1590, today we can only see the white stone, as the original colouring has been lost. Juan Bautista Vázquez "the Old" and Diego Velasco share the authorship of the vertical reliefs which are combined with other smaller horizontal ones made by Marcos Cabrera. The most beautiful of the reliefs is that showing the Ascension and is believed to have been made by Vázquez. In 1668, Murillo painted the vaulted ceiling with eight circular images depicting the saints related to Seville and a beautiful Immaculate Conception which creates a striking sense of weightlessness - an effect which is enhanced by the fact that the painting is hung at an incredible height. Murillo crowned the evolution of the iconography of the Imaculate Conception, the devotion to whom unleashed heated arguments between supporters and opponents in the 17th century.

La Inmaculada

Martínez Montañés is considered one of the best Spanish sculptors of all time. His work represents the symbiosis of classicism and baroque styles.

La Inmaculada Mateo Vázquez de Leca commissioned the Cristo de la Clemencia in 1603: “The said crucified Christ must yet be alive before having exhaled with his head inclined to the right, looking at whoever may of prayer at his feet, as if it were Christ himself who was speaking to them, and as if it were he who complained of the suffering of he who is praying”. Juan Martínez Montañés sculpted this Christ, one of the most beautiful Spanish works of art. Both Vázquez de Leca and Montañés died in the great plague of 1649. Montañés’ masterly Immaculate Conception carved in 1631, is known as the Cieguecita (the little blind one) because of her downcast eyes and her lowered head.

Christopher Columbus

In 1899, the royal boat Giralda brought Columbus’ remains back to Seville. The monument to Columbus was the work of Arturo Mélida.

Christopher Columbus In 1485, Christopher Columbus settled in Seville, where he lived on and off whilst seeking support for the visionary projects which led to the Discovery of America.In Seville, he enjoyed the hospitality of the Carthussian monks and the decisive support of the Duke of Medinaceli. The 12th of October of 1492 marked the start of a new era in universal history. After Columbus returned to the city on the 31st of March 1493, Seville became the undisputable centre of the American adventure and, with its monopoly on trade, the gateway through which the richess of the New World entered Europe. After Columbus died in Valladolid in 1506, his body was taken to the Carthussian monastery and, complying with his last testament, was then transported to Santo Domingo. In 1796, it was taken to Havana were it remained until the Spanish lost the colony. In 1899, the royal boat Giralda brought Columbus’ remains back to Seville. The monument to Columbus was the work of Arturo Mélida. It depicts four sepulchre bearers with the coats of arms of Castile, Leon, Navarre and Aragon carrying the coffin.

Patio de los Naranjos

The Puerta de San Pedro, originally the main entrance to the old Mosque, once led onto the The Courtyard of Ablutions where the Patio de los Naranjos stands today.

Patio de los Naranjos The Puerta de San Pedro, originally the main entrance to the old Mosque, once led onto the The Courtyard of Ablutions where the Patio de los Naranjos stands today. The wooden doors are plated in bronze and engraved with latticework, Arabic inscriptions and plasterwork. Miguel Florentín made the figures of the Anunciación, San Pedro, San Pablo, and the relief depicting the Expulsion of the Traders from the Temple, a clear allusion to the traders who used to invade the Cathedral conflicts with the Chapter House. The Patio de los Naranjos (Courtyard of the Orange Trees) is planted with six rows of orange trees which are linked by brick water channels. In the centre stands an octagonal marble fountain which is Roman in origin.

 

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