The largest Gothic building in the world and the third-largest church in Europe, after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London, the Catedral de Sevilla was designed by builders with a stated goal—that “those who come after us will take us for madmen.” Construction began in the late 1400s on the site of the Almohad mosque and took centuries to complete. Just inside one portal, the tomb of Columbus is held by four carved pall-bearers.
Works of art abound here, many of them architectural, such as the 15th-century stained-glass windows, the iron screens (rejas) closing off the chapels, the elaborate 15th-century choir stalls, and the Gothic reredos above the main altar. On the feasts of Corpus Christi and the Immaculate Conception (and on the 3rd day of Feria), six boys (Los Seises) from the choir perform a ceremonial dance on the altar dressed in Renaissance plumed hats and wielding castanets. The treasury has works by Goya, Murillo, and Zurbarán, as well as a display of skulls (sic transit gloria mundi). You might spot young women praying before the gigantic Murillo painting of the Vision de San Antonio. They’re asking St. Anthony, patron of the lovelorn, to send them a husband. After touring the dark interior, you emerge into the sunlight of the Patio de Naranjas (Orange Trees), with its fresh citrus scents and chirping birds.
La Giralda, the bell tower of the cathedral, is the city’s most emblematic monument. Erected as a minaret in the 12th century, it has seen later additions, such as 16th-century bells. Those who climb to the top ascend on a ramp constructed so that the muezzin could ride up on horseback. Those who make it up get a dazzling view of Sevilla. Entrance is through the cathedral.