Seville Cathedral

Before we went to Andalucia I had read about Seville Cathedral being, apparently, the largest Gothic example of its kind in the world. Given this rather grandiose description, and the fact that I have seen some rather impressive medieval Cathedrals back home in the UK (Westminster Abbey, York Minster, Durham, Lichfield, Salisbury and Canterbury to name just a few) I don’t mind telling you that I was expecting something preeeeety big from Seville.

Unfortunately, when I finally clapped eyes on this “monster” for myself, I have to admit to being ever so slightly underwhelmed.

I think the problem is that when I think of a Cathedral I think of very tall buildings, with spires and towers soaring up towards the heavens………and Seville just isn’t like that. The main body of the Cathedral (discounting the Giralda bell tower) is only 37m high. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s not insubstantial, but that height just isn’t in proportion to the 126m long by 83m wide rest of the building. So what you get, rather than the usual soaring, slender and elegant Cathedral buildings that I’m used to, is something that is frankly a bit squat and a bit too square.

What I do like about Seville though, is the variety of architectural styles that it encompasses. To start with, it is a real clash of two cultures – Islamic and Christian. The original 12th Century Mosque was consecrated as a Cathedral in 1248, after the Christians finally reconquered the city from the Moors. However, during the subsequent Christian re-development works (mainly from the 15th Century Gothic through the 16th Century Renaissance to the 17th Century Baroque) the Mosque’s beautiful Orange Tree Courtyard was conserved as was the minaret, which today forms the lower two-thirds of the magnificent 98m tall Giralda bell tower:

The Giralda

Giralda Framed

Orange Tree Courtyard

Door of the Prince

A major disadvantage in having a building that is so long and wide, but relatively low, is that what windows there are really struggle to let in enough light to see properly…let alone take photographs. This is exacerbated by the fact that light is further restricted because the long North side of the Cathedral faces out into the dappled shade of the Orange Tree Courtyard, and the equally long South side is adorned with a maze of chapels, rooms and passages.

To be honest, I’d be hard pressed to think of a Cathedral building that was as poorly lit as Seville….and that is saying something. This, coupled with the fact that I was a “travelling-light-without-tripod-tourist-photographer”, made for less than ideal photographic conditions.

So I apologise in advance for the interior shots below – but needs must I’m afraid as I had to seriously compromise with wide-apertures and high-ISO settings. Well either that or simply not to bother at all…….which of course would never do. Note to self though – must invest in a light travel tripod.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

15 Responses to “Seville Cathedral”

  1. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography)

    You’ve still managed to capture some beautiful details though, Mark. I have a nice Manfrotto lightweight tripod which is what I usually take out on public transport, but it’s the heavy duty one which I need for the heavy long telephoto lens.

    The detail in that last photo looks really interesting. Did you take any shots front on of that pattern?

    We’re not allowed tripods in the main cathedrals in Melbourne due to health & safety regulations. OH & S regs. here in Melbourne have got to the point of the ridiculous in some areas.

    (Duh!!! As if I’d allow anyone to trip over my precious DSLR & tripod).

    • Mark Simms

      Cheers Vicky……I don’t think I do have any front-on, it was a bit of a grab shot as we were leaving. The problem with the tripod really, is the air travel – it would have to go in the hold and therefore in the suitcase which isn’t ideal. Then of course I have to carry it around whilst we are out and about – it just becomes a bit of a pain especially walking around a town or city. Yes we have silly rules like that in the UK as well.

      • Vicki (from Victoria A Photography)

        You’ll have to get a tiny trolley case on wheels, Mark, like mine. It is so light to lift on & off public transport (or though I have yet to try if on a plane). It carries the gear, umbrella, snacks & drinks with the tripod strapped near the pull-out handle. Pulling it around is no trouble on long walks. And I can carry it across the sand on the beach, but it’d be no use trekking or mountain climbing of course (although I wouldn’t have the health or fitness to do that anyway).

        If I had to physically carry all my gear on my back, I wouldn’t go anywhere. I have to admit there are some days when I just take out my smallest camera shoulder bag and one camera & lens though. Some days I really can’t be bothered carrying anything much at all.

  2. Noeline Smith

    Didn’t someone say that there’s no such thing as bad light?! Anyway, the light has resulted in some lovely atmospheric images.
    Have you been to the Mezquita in Cordoba? They had similar Christian/Islamic issues but in that case the Christians built a Cathedral in the middle of the Mezquita, knocking a hole in the roof in the process. Criminal!

    • Mark Simms

      Yep they did say that….and it’s true so long as you have the kit/time to exploit the low light at the time. Also pale grey British skies with no cloud definition produce crap light…..and I don’t care what anyone says!!! Unfortunately we didn’t get up to Cordoba on this trip – the consensus was for a second day in Seville instead.

  3. mysmallsurrenders

    Your photos of Spain make we want to get on a plane and go.
    Seville is a favourite place of mine.
    I actually took a photo of La Giralda that is framed in a similar way to your colour shot. It’s a photo I’m very proud of 🙂


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