10 Things to Know Before Visiting Seville Cathedral

Seville Cathedral stands alongside La Sagrada Família in Barcelona as one of the most famous churches in Spain. Officially named Santa Maria de la Sede, visitors flock here to be awed by its Gothic immensity and to scale La Giralda for stunning city views.  

Even if you are only spending one day in Seville, you should make time for this monumental building.

But what do you need to know before visiting Seville Cathedral? Make the most of your time at this extraordinary place of worship with these essential Seville Cathedral facts and tips.

exterior view of seville cathedral and bell tower framed by orange trees

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Essential Seville Cathedral Facts & Tips

1. Seville Cathedral is off-the-scale enormous

Seville Cathedral is superlative busting.

It’s the third-largest church in the world after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. If you have a thing for figures, it is 161 meters long. 140 meters wide and its central nave rises to 42 metres.

vast interior of gothic cathedral

That’s neck-crickingly big my friend.

2. It is built over the remains of a mosque

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.

Following the capture of Seville by Ferdinand III, the mosque was consecrated as a cathedral in 1248. The later Gothic temple 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.

courtyard of cathedral with orange trees
Patio de los Naranjos, Seville Cathedral

3. Buy your ticket for Seville Cathedral in advance

This UNESCO-listed building 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 ticket in advance.


Admission tickets to the Cathedral also give you access to La Giralda and the Iglesia del Salvador at the nearby Plaza del Salvador.  

If you are not able to buy your ticket in advance, buy your ticket at the Iglesia del Salvador which is much quieter.

4. Visit during the first timeslot of the day

Back to those visitor numbers.

Although Seville Cathedral is vast enough for this not to be a real issue, 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.

view of cathedral seen through latticed arched window
Climbing La Giralda

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.

5. 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 will help you 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.


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.


READ THIS NEXT: 10 Things to Know Before Visiting the Real Alcázar of Seville 

6. The views from La Giralda are stunning

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 24 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.

panoramic view of the streets of seville from the giralda tower

7. Consider taking a tour of the roof

I regret that I wasn’t able to do this when I visited Seville Cathedral as tours were only available in Spanish on the date I wanted. Numbers are limited and you gain access to parts of the cathedral not usually open to the paying public.

aerial view of dome of seville cathedral and plaza and alcazar
On the roof of Seville Cathedral

Tour times and tickets are available from the official Cathedral website or at the ticket office. Book well in advance.

8. Seville Cathedral is the final resting place of Christopher Columbus (well, maybe)

The Cathedral is home to an enormous monument to Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón) by the Sevillian sculptor Arturo Mélida.

suculpture of men holding tomb of colon seen when visiting seville cathedral

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 his widow’s request, 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 tombstone of Columbus’s son Hernando lies in the centre of the pavement towards the Cathedral’s west door.

9. Check out the works of art in Seville Cathedral

Don’t ignore the cathedral’s works of art.

It is home to Spain’s third most important collection of artworks after the Prado in Madrid and the Museo de Bellas Artes in Seville. The Cathedral’s collection of masterpieces includes several works by Francisco de Goya, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo and Francisco de Zurbarán.

painting of two saints by goya
Las Santas Justa y Rufina, Goya (1817)

10. Don’t ignore the Iglesia del Salvador

Built between 1617 and 1712, this magnificent Baroque church occupies the site of Seville’s first great mosque. Its bell tower sits on the mosque’s original minaret and its Moorish patio also survives.

But what I loved about Iglesia del Salvador was its wonderfully expressive sculptures, which include Jesús de la Pasión by Martínez Montañés.

statue of jesus holding a cross
Jesús de la Pasión, Martínez Montañés (1615)

Other Highlights of Seville Cathedral

room with elaborate domed ceiling with painting of virgin mary

Chapter House

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.

elaborate gilded altar which is a highlight of seville cathedral

Main Chapel

The main chapel (Capilla Mayor) has a dazzling main 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.

carved wooden choir stalls in seville cathedral

The Choir

Enclosed by a decorative 16th Century reja (grille) the choir features ornately carved Gothic stalls.

courtyard with gateway and orange trees

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.

Visiting Seville Cathedral: Practical Information

As of May 2024, Seville Cathedral is open from 11 am to 7 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.

As opening hours may be modified due to acts of worship and cultural activities, check online before you visit.

The main entrance to the Cathedral is through Puerta del Lagarto. If you need to buy a ticket, 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.

There is a limited number of free tickets available for the Cathedral and Giralda Tower between 2 pm and 3 pm, Monday to Friday (except for public holidays). Book your ticket here well in advance and expect it to be busy.

There is also no charge to attend Mass. You can check the schedule here.

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 the right length of time.

If you want to explore the Cathedral’s extensive art collection, the sky’s the limit.

Visitors are asked to dress appropriately. This means no shorts or vest tops for either gender.  
As this is a place of worship be respectful.

Why You Should Add Seville Cathedral to Your Bucket List

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.

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

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 hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.

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