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For over 800 years the tower of Seville’s magnificent cathedral (the Giralda) stood as the tallest structure in the city, built at 103 m. Completed in 1195, it was originally the minaret of the Aljama mosque before it became the bell tower of a Christian Church. The structure took 12 years to build.
The name Giralda means “she who turns” after the weather vane on top of the tower. The figure on the weather vane, called El Giraldillo, represents faith.
The Giralda, originally used for calling faithful Muslims to prayer and as an observatory, was highly valued by the Moors. There were plans to destroy it before the Christian conquest of the city in 1248, but a threat by King Alfonso X …
Seville’s cathedral, Santa Maria de la Sede, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The cathedral was built in the 15th century (1401 to 1506 A.D.) on the site of the 12th century Aljama mosque. Portions of the mosque survive within the Cathedral’s structure, most notably the belltower known as Giralda.
Seville’s Cathedral is very popular with visitors and unless you arrive early or late, you’ll likely have to wait in line to purchase your ticket. It’s one of the most magnificent churches I’ve ever seen, and I found it well worth the wait and price of admission. While you wait in line you’ll have time to study and enjoy some of the beautiful craftsmanship adorning the …
One of the most popular attractions within Seville’s fabulous Cathedral is this unusual tomb, constructed in honor of famous resident, Christopher Columbus. The great 15th century explorer, widely celebrated for his successes, died in poverty in Valladolid. The tomb itself is more recent, from 1892, with statues of four royal bearers carrying the suspended tomb.
Columbus traveled far in life but likely even further in death. Posthumously his remains have journeyed from Northwestern Spain to Seville, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, the USA and finally back to Seville. With all that travel, one might begin to wonder if this is indeed the remains of Christopher Columbus, but recent DNA tests were pretty convincing that this tomb does hold Columbus remains.
(Click on thumbnails …
The idea of a National Church was first mentioned by the great General and first American President, George Washington, but this dream did not begin to take fruition for more than a century. Like all great projects, it takes time and lots of money to make the dream a reality. Today the completed church plays an important role in its nation’s history having hosted many national days of prayer and several presidential funerals.
The National Cathedral is a beautiful NeoGothic church situated on the highest point in the District of Columbia. It’s built in the style of the great European cathedrals and has a tall central tower (30 stories high), 231 beautiful stained-glass windows (one of which has a moon rock …
The Royal Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus, also known as Wawel Cathedral, is situated in Kraków, Poland. The church is part of the Royal Palace complex atop Wawel Hill, where a church has been for more than 900 years. Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II, was ordained to the priesthood at Wawel Cathedral and performed his first mass here. Wawel Cathedral is where Polish kings were coronated and where many lie buried.
The current Gothic cathedral is the third church on the site and dates to the 14th century. It is a small cathedral with elaborate and ornate side chapels. Most of the church is open to the public and admission to the common areas is free. Photos …
Situated a few miles from the coastal city of Palermo is a beautiful mosaic-filled cathedral in the Sicilian hill town of Monreal. This church and the other Arab-Norman cathedrals of Palermo recently received recognition as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Monreal cathedral and its adjoining abbey are often cited as Sicily’s best examples of its unique Arab-Norman architecture. The cathedral dates to the 12th century when Norman ruler William II (William the Good) founded a monastery here and then added the Duomo (cathedral). William wanted this to be an important royal church and he is buried here (although none of his successors are).
Outside the Duomo is a relatively plain church, with the exception of the beautifully designed apses. As you …
I’ve visited dozens of wonderful churches in my life, some vaste and grand like St. Peter’s in Rome, or Westminister Abbey in London, others smaller and with a more intimate feel. As a rule, I’m partially to smaller chapels and churches, and there are two at the top of my list of favorites. The most beautiful church I’ve ever been in, and because of the nature of it also the most beautiful painting of the Renaissance, is the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. Seeing the Sistine Chapel for the first time actually made me gasp in awe — a travel first for me! But another smaller church that caught my eye and amazed me with its beauty is the Palatine …
I first saw Cologne’s Cathedral on a train journey from Amsterdam to Heidelberg in the late 1990s. It’s an imposing and immense Gothic structure situated adjoining the Cologne train station near the Rhine River. I recall the cathedral’s massive spires (157 m or 515′ tall) inspiring me to think, “some day I’m going to visit that church”! It took almost 15 years from that train trip to finally visit the Cathedral, but thanks to friends Bernd and Monika, my wife and I visited Cologne and its great cathedral recently.
Cologne Cathedral stands on the site of a 4th Century Roman ruin, and if you’ve time, there’s a fabulous Roman history museum immediately adjoining it that’s worth visiting. A previous church …