Photo Post: A Visit to the Seville Cathedral Rooftop

There are some things in Seville that don’t need any further explanation – a cotton candy sunset over Triana, Plaza de España’s beautiful tile benches, the dreamy chords and staccato of a flamenco performance.

And then there’s the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and its stunning minaret. Visiting the rooftop has long been on my to-do list, and even with a guide recounting the history, lore and practicality of the temple, the views of La Hispalense needed no explanation.

Florentino met us at Puerta de San Miguel, adjacent to Avenida de la Constitución. It was a busy Saturday evening, and the streets were clogged with families and street performers. Once we’d stepped inside – our guide with an enormous key and soft feet – we’d get ground rules: watch your step, stay with the group, and don’t touch any wires.

The massive cathedral of Seville

We climbed a winding staircase, worn down by more than 600 years of history. Etched Stars of David, rhombuses and other figures were a testament to the 100 years it took to build the cathedral once the city was reconquered. It was dark and cramped, but we emerged just over the sacristy, affording us views of Plaza de Virgen de los Reyes below.

The Giralda

cathedral in seville

For someone who has climbed the Giralda and visited the cathedral itself two dozen times, I didn’t think the building and anchor any touristic route would hold much mystery. 

Florentino reminded us to watch our step as I nearly tripped over a stone pod on the uneven surface. These devices were used as weights for the reliquia below – statues, paintings and even old altarpieces were hoisted using this archaic system.  So, there, I learned something. He pointed out features in the building process, from the stained glass to the buttresses, navigated a labyrinth of staircases, rooms and small patios.

sunset from the seville cathedral

sunset Seville Spain

When you’ve admired the sprawling cathedral from below, it’s incredible to see the details up close. So close, in fact, that I received a shock from wires designed to keep pigeons away. Oops, broke rule three.

We climbed and climb, retracing the Latin cross as Florentino recounted the 500 chapels below our feet and lore about the construction and consecration of the cathedral. Like everyone else, I gasped when we reached the highest point of the tour.

The Giralda Tower Seville

We were just a few yards from the Giralda, and climbed up the dome of the sacristy to contemplate the tower. Along with the Patio de los Naranjos, the minaret is a trace of the mosque that stood here until the reconquest in the 12th century.

Rooftop tour of the cathedral

Entering the temple shortly after, we walked behind the organ on a small walkway that could only accommodate you if you squeezed by, careful not to trip over the wires that light the naves. I had lost Florentino’s voice by now, but that hardly mattered.

Stained glass at the Seville Cathedral

rosette window in the catedral de sevilla

Once back on the ground, I could truly appreciate the immensity of the cathedral and its importance in Seville lore and history. The church built to inspire all those who see it to think that the architects and commissioners must have been crazy. Crazy, maybe.

If you go: Conocer Sevilla runs weekly visits to the cathedral rooftop – called the Cubertizo de la Catedral. Tours are about 90 minutes, cost 12 per person and it’s recommendable to wear comfortable clothing, as surfaces are unsteady and there is a bit of climbing involved. For more information and reservations, check Conocer Sevilla’s webpage.

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I visited the cathedral as part of the Typical NonSpanish project with Caser Expat. For more on the project, visit their webpage or find them on twitter.

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. WOW. what an extraordinary experience!!
    Wandering Educators recently posted..Studying Abroad: Setting Off A Series of Dominoes Of Profound ChangeMy Profile

  2. Wow! Stunning photographs and description! I didn’t know there’s a rooftop tour. Would love to see it one day! Thanks Cat

  3. Wow!!!! This looks like the most fascinating tour! I’ve done a rooftop tour of Santiago’s cathedral and the “Ieronimus” tour of the towers and balconies of Salamanca’s cathedral, so I can only imagine what a similar visit to Sevilla’s would be like. Wish I had known about this opportunity when I visited two years ago :( I bet getting up-close-and-personal with the Giralda was priceless.
    Trevor Huxham recently posted..The 3 Reasons I Fell in Love with Santiago de Compostela, SpainMy Profile

  4. Beautiful photos, Cat! I too have been meaning to take this tour for some time now. It really does look impressive.

  5. Oh, this is a tour we missed out on when we visited Seville. Another reason to return. Good luck with the project.
    Gran Canaria Local recently posted..Bubble FootballMy Profile

  6. I wished I had spent some time to visit the cathedral in more detail especially the rooftop. I love the views late in the afternoon with that sunset shot, spectacular!
    noel recently posted..Gump’s shopping experienceMy Profile

  7. If I ever make it to Sevilla!…
    Penny Sadler recently posted..5 Reasons To Love Monterey, CaliforniaMy Profile

  8. Wow! These photos are absolutely stunning, Cat! I would love to go up there whenever I’m in Sevilla. Everything looks incredible!
    Mike of Mapless Mike recently posted..Ranking Germany’s Christmas MarketsMy Profile

  9. I love being able to view architectural marvels from a different perspective. This sounds like a wonderful experience in Seville!
    Larissa recently posted..Buddy Holly’s final show: Visiting the Surf BallroomMy Profile

  10. Sevilla Cathedral has beautiful architecture. I’m glad you were able to learn some new things about it even if you did break a few rules. Thanks for sharing!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..ECO NEWS: Palm Oil Threatens Palawan Philippines (& the Planet)My Profile

  11. What a cool tour! I didn’t know you could go on the rooftop as well as the Giralda. And you got to go up at such a perfect time of day, the sky looks amazing in your pictures.
    Jessica (Barcelona Blonde) recently posted..3 Quirky Road Trip Stops in SpainMy Profile

    • The tour has been around for a few years, and I’d been dying to do it! Worthwhile if you’re back over here soon!


  1. […] Best Spot for a Selfie: Calle Placentines where it crosses Argote de Molina. You can get the entire Giralda in for free (though if you’re willing to pay, take the Cathedral Rooftop Tour). […]

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