Where we visit some Catholic churches in Seville, Spain including Seville Cathedral and Iglesia de El Salvador.
We wandered, somewhat aimlessly through the old town of Seville and down towards the river. We had the vague idea we would visit some Seville churches. When a feast for the eyes is around every corner, what does it matter which direction you head?
We found, by accident, the delightful Jardine de Murillo (Gardens of Murillo). Giant magnolia trees towered over fountains, ceramic tiled benches and, of course, the ubiquitous orange trees. In the gardens is a 23 metre (75 feet) high monument to Christopher Columbus, known as Christobel Colon in Spanish. Two tall columns topped off with a lion with a claw on a globe, symbolising the Spanish empire. In the middle of the two columns is a caravel inscribed with the names of Isabella and Ferdinand, the sponsors of the journey to America. On the pedestal are a portrait of Columbus and the coat of arms of the king.
Every guide about Seville told us to get a combined ticket for both the cathedral and Iglesia de El Salvador (Church of the Saviour) at the latter to avoid queues at the cathedral. We bought our ticket and walked into the church and both stopped dead.
‘Wow’ I said.
‘You too,’ said Madam.
‘Wow,’ I repeated.
I’ve been to a lot of churches and cathedrals around Europe but this one was stunning. Words to describe it escape me so you will just have to look at the pictures in my Seville Photography post. In fact, the photographs don’t really do it justice, so you should just go there yourself.
We walked a couple of blocks to the entrance of Seville Cathedral. A beggar on crutches stood by the door, hand outstretched.
The cathedral was much larger – it is the largest gothic cathedral in the world- but somehow not as impressive as Iglesias de El Salvador. Much that is worth looking at is behind heavy iron bars and seemed shabby and neglected. It was like it needed somebody with a scrubbing brush and a bucket of soapy water. Areas were roped off. Priceless paintings lined the walls but had to be viewed from twenty or thirty yards away. The gold and silver was tarnished. A film of dust lay over the displays.
I couldn’t help but wonder if they should take a Euro or two from the entrance price and spend it on a few cleaners. Perhaps I am being unfair and they are about to embark on a massive restoration project and restore it to its former glory. I hope so.
One of the major attractions in the cathedral is the tomb of Christopher Columbus. His tomb is held aloft by four figures representing the four kingdoms of Spain. It was surrounded by visitors posing for selfies, many of them American, for obvious reasons.
Columbus seems to have travelled further in death than in life. Originally interred in Valladolid Spain in 1506, his remains were later moved to Seville on the orders of his brother. In 1542 they were again moved to the Dominican Republic. In 1795, they resumed their journey, this time to nearby Cuba. A hundred year rest was followed by their final journey back to Seville. Probably. I say probably because in 1877 a box was discovered in the Dominican Republic inscribed with the words “The illustrious and excellent man, Don Colon, Admiral of the Ocean Sea.” So, are his remains in Seville or in the Dominican Republic? Nobody really knows. Either way, it is an impressive and fitting monument.
Attached to the cathedral is the Giralda, a tower originally built as a minaret for the Great Mosque of Seville in the twelfth century. A long winding ramp leads up to the top with views over the city. These ramps were created with enough width and height to accommodate “beasts of burden, people, and the custodians,” according to one twelfth century chronicler. Somebody involved in the design didn’t like the idea of climbing 35 levels on foot. Unfortunately on foot was the only option available to us, so we trudged, along with dozens of other visitors, up the steep and winding slope stopping several times to admire the view. And what a view it was. The tower reaches 98 metres (320 feet) and Seville is almost flat so we could see the whole city laid out before us.
Have you been to any Seville churches? What were your favourites? Leave a comment below.