As I’ve been to this UNESCO-listed building a few times, I can help you make the most of your visit. From the cathedral’s highlights to essential information about the dress code, here are my essential Seville Cathedral tips and facts.
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A Brief History of Seville Cathedral
In common with other churches throughout Spain – the cathedrals in Tarragona and Valencia are good examples – Seville Cathedral occupies the space where the city’s mosque once stood. This was founded in the year 1172 under the rule of the Almohad caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf.
Following the capture of Seville by Ferdinand III in 1248, this mosque was consecrated as a Christan church, similar to the mosque-church in Granada. The later Gothic cathedral took over a century to build, with the last stone laid in 1506.
The sole survivors of the original Moorish structure are the Lizard Door, Pardon Door, La Giralda and the Patio de los Naranjos.
Visiting Seville Cathedral: Highlights Not to Miss
Depending on who you ask or how it’s calculated, Seville Cathedral is either the biggest or the third-largest church in the world (its competitors are St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London). It is 161 meters long, 140 meters wide and its central nave is 42 metres high.
In a cathedral of this size, it is easy to become overwhelmed and overlook some of its treasures. Here is what you shouldn’t miss when visiting Seville Cathedral
Tomb of Christopher Columbus
The Cathedral is home to an enormous monument to Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón) by the Sevillian sculptor Arturo Mélida.
The great navigator’s remains travelled almost as far as he did in life.
After his death in 1506, Columbus was briefly buried in Valladolid before being moved to Seville. At the request of his widow, he was removed to the cathedral in Santo Domingo in the Caribbean.
When the island was ceded to the French, the remains were moved to Havana. However, when Cuba was lost in 1898 Columbus was shipped back to Seville, his final resting place.
But is it? Following the discovery of another coffin in the cathedral in Santo Domingo with a silver plate bearing Columbus’s name, doubt has been cast on the exact location of the explorer’s remains.
The inscrutable expressions of those coffin bearers are giving nothing away.
The oval-shaped Chapter House has an elaborate domed ceiling which is mirrored in the marble decoration of its floor. It houses a number of paintings by Murillo, one of Seville’s favourite sons.
The main chapel (Capilla Mayor) has a dazzling altarpiece. This massive Gothic gilded woodcarving features the Virgen de la Sede surrounded by scenes from the Life of Christ and the Life of the Virgin.
Enclosed by a decorative 16th Century reja (grille) the choir features ornately carved Gothic stalls.
Works of art in Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral is home to Spain’s third most important collection of artworks after the Prado in Madrid and the Museo de Bellas Artes in Seville. Its collection of masterpieces includes a number of works by Francisco de Goya, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo and Francisco de Zurbarán.
Patio de los Naranjos
A survivor from the original mosque, this orange tree-lined patio has a fountain that was used for ritual ablutions prior to worship.
La Giralda is an enduring legacy of the cathedral’s Moorish past.
When the Christians tore down the mosque they couldn’t bring themselves to destroy the minaret. Instead, they incorporated the tower into their new cathedral, installing 24 bells, one for each of Seville’s parishes and for the knights who fought alongside Ferdinand in the reconquest.
35 sloping ramps take you up to the Giralda’s viewing platform, 70 meters above the ground. From here there are 360-degree views of the city.
Buying Tickets for Seville Cathedral
This is one of Seville’s highlights and attracts visitors in their droves. As you won’t want to risk getting stuck in an epic queue, do yourself a huge favour and buy your Seville Cathedral ticket in advance.
When buy your ticket, you can upgrade your purchase to include an audio guide (I recommend this).
Tickets for the Cathedral also give you access to La Giralda and the Iglesia del Salvador at the nearby Plaza del Salvador.
>>> CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR SKIP-THE-LINE TICKET
You can also visit the roof of Seville Cathedral which allows you access to areas not usually open to the paying public. I was gutted not to be able to do this when I was last here as tours were only available in Spanish on the date I wanted.
An additional cost applies and you can book in advance via the official Cathedral website.
Seville Cathedral Free Tickets
Each week, there are 100 free tickets for Seville Cathedral and Giralda Tower for access between 2 pm and 3 pm. These are available from Monday to Friday, except for public holidays.
Book your ticket here well in advance. When I last checked, tickets went on sale six weeks in advance and were snapped up quickly.
In my view, an hour to visit both the Cathedral and the Giralda will feel rushed but is worth considering if you are travelling on a budget.
Another way to visit Seville Cathedral is to attend Mass. You can check the schedule here.
The Best Time to Visit Seville Cathedral
To give yourself a fighting chance of not having to bump elbows with countless other visitors, book a ticket for the first time slot of the day.
Although the cathedral is vast enough to hold crowds of visitors, climbing to the top of the Giralda is another story. Trust me; squeezing past dozens of people to capture the perfect view of Seville is not a joy.
In 2023, Seville Cathedral is open from 11 am to 6 pm Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, it is open from 2.30 pm until 6 pm. Staff begin kicking people out of the Cathedral 20 minutes before closing time.
However, as opening hours are subject to change, check online before you visit.
How Long Should You Spend at Seville Cathedral?
If you simply want to take a few photographs of the views from the Giralda and walk through the cathedral, allow at least an hour to visit Seville Cathedral.
However, I urge you to spend more time absorbing its beauty and history. I spent just over two hours here which felt about the right length of time.
If you want to explore the Cathedral’s extensive art collection, the sky’s the limit.
Seville Cathedral Dress Code
Seville Cathedral introduced a dress code in 2019.
Appropriate dress means no shorts or vest tops for either gender. Shoulders should be covered and trousers or skirts should at least reach the knee.
Flip flips and hot pants are both no-nos.
Other Tips for Visiting Seville Cathedral
Pick the right entrance
The main entrance to the Cathedral is through Puerta del Lagarto. If you need to buy a ticket, you need to head first to the ticket office at Puerta del Príncipe.
The nearest subway station is Puerta de Jerez (line 1). It is also served by a number of buses.
Come armed with a guide
To make the most of your visit to Seville Cathedral you will need some form of guide.
The Cathedral is a good introduction to Seville’s Muslim and Christian heritage and these successive periods have left their stylistic stamps on the building. Having relevant information to hand will help you to make sense of its monuments and history.
Unless you have a very good guidebook, the easiest option is to pick up an audioguide at the entrance. Better still, upgrade your entrance ticket to include a guided tour of the cathedral and the Giralda Tower.
>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR GUIDED TOUR
If you plan to visit the Royal Alcázar of Seville – and you should – why not take a combined tour of the Alcázar, Cathedral and La Giralda? This highly-rated tour takes around three hours and is perfect if you are short on time in Seville.
>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR GUIDED TOUR OF THE ALCÁZAR, CATHEDRAL & LA GIRALDA
Photography at Seville Cathedral
Whilst you can take photographs in the Cathedral, tripods are not allowed. This is a dimly lit interior so keep those hands steady.
Always be respectful of worshippers and spaces reserved for prayer only.
Is Seville Cathedral Worth Visiting?
There’s a danger when visiting many churches on a trip that they all eventually blur into one. Think of it as the European equivalent of temple fatigue in Thailand.
Not so with Seville Cathedral.
Seville Cathedral was built as a monument to Christian glory. Not only does its vast proportions justify a visit in its own right, but its history and artistic treasures place it in a league of its own.
Even if you spend only one day in Seville, you should make time for this monumental building.
Thank you for reading my guide to Seville Cathedral
I hope that these tips help you have a wonderful visit.
Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.
Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.
To get in touch, email her at email@example.com or follow her on social media.