The majestic Seville Cathedral | A Visitor’s Guide to the largest Gothic Cathedral in the World

The majestic Seville Cathedral | A Visitor’s Guide to the largest Gothic Cathedral in the World

Written by: Georgina | We may earn a commission from affiliate links

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What to expect from this guide

Welcome to The majestic Seville Cathedral | A Visitor’s Guide to the largest Gothic Cathedral in the World. This unmissable guide is specially curated for you to provide historical context as well as practical tips so that you can make the most of your visit to this grandiose sanctuary. You could easily spend a few hours discovering this heritage and in this guide, you will find all the best listed.

Learn about the story of the majestic Seville Cathedral (Catedral de Sevilla), the highlights of the glorious interior, things to do and places to stay nearby.

The majestic Seville Cathedral

I | Story of the majestic Seville Cathedral (Catedral de Sevilla)

Seville Cathedral | timelesstravelsteps.com
Seville Cathedral, Seville City | Image: © TTS photograper

The official name of Seville Cathedral is Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Catedral de Santa María de la Sede in Spanish) but is better known as Seville Cathedral or Catedral de Sevilla in Spanish.

Nothing prepares visitors for the monumental and glorious sight of the majestic Seville Cathedral in the heart of Seville city, the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia. This Roman Catholic Cathedral is the world’s largest in Gothic architecture and is registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1987, along with the Alcázar and General Archive of the Indies.

Construction of the majestic Seville Cathedral was long and ardous, about 106 years to complete.

Here is how it all began …

1 | The history — Good to Know before you go

We know from ancient history, temples and places of worship had been adapted to new spiritual purposes to reflect the spirituality and beliefs of new dominant rulers when a region is conquered. For example the Pantheon of Rome was converted into a church when Christianity became the official religion of the Empire. Similarly, the Hagia Sophia was built in 537 as a cathedral and was the largest cathedral during the Byzantine era in the imperial capital of Constantinople. In 1453, following the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque. A number of minarets were added over the years and is now officially known as The Holy Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque.

2 | When Seville Cathedral was a Mosque

It is generally recorded that the Moors ruled parts of the Iberian Peninsula for 800 years, from early 8th to late 15th centuries. Although they were expelled from Seville in 1248 and finally from the entire Western Europe by 1492, the Moors had left a distinct legacy and a mark on Andalusian culture which are richly noticeable today. One such legacy was the Almohad mosque, construction of which began in 1172 and completed in 1198.

The Almohads were Berber Muslims with origins in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The Almohad Caliph, Abu Yaqub Yusuf who ruled Seville in the 12th century ordered a construction of a new great mosque, aimed at making Seville the capital of Al-Andalus.

The mosque was designed by the well-known Ahmad ben Basso. His design encompassed a rectangular building space of 113 metres by 135 metres. It consisted of 17 prayer halls, a minaret and an ablutions courtyard.

The Moors also brought the distinctive orange trees (bitter oranges!) to Seville and the fragrance of oranges can be experienced in Patio de los Naranjos even today.

3 | When the mosque in Seville became the Cathedral in Seville

With the conquest of Seville by Ferdinand III of Castille in December 1248, the great mosque of the Almohad’s was converted to a cathedral. The spaces were partitioned and chapels created.

After half a century of maintenance and repairs, it was decided that a bigger cathedral was built to reflect the city’s wealth as the city was a major thriving trading centre after the reconquest. Accordingly, it was decided in 1401 by the church elders that they would:

“… build a church so beautiful and so grand that those who see it finished will take us for crazy.”

True to their words, the Seville Cathedral is one of the largest places of worship in Christendom and the largest in Gothic style in the world today built on the very site of the Almohad’s great mosque.

Construction began in 1401 and took over a hundred years to build this landmark in the centre of Seville, when it was completed in 1506. Almost half of the eastern side of the cathedral is occupied by the royal chapel, containing the royal tombs.

Seville Cathedral is also the final resting place for Christopher Columbus and his son Ferdinand (Diego) Columbus.

The belfry that towers over the cathedral and the city has its origin in the 12th century. The base of the Giralda is Moorish and is the oldest part of this monument.

Recommended read: The Giralda Tower in Seville

With this nutshell history, let’s dive in to the highlights of the majestic Seville Cathedral.

II | Highlights of the glorious interior of the majestic Seville Cathedral

Here are some of the glorious highlights to take note of when visiting the largest Gothic cathedral in the world:

1 | Gothic interior of the majestic Seville Cathedral

Gothic interior of the majestic Seville Cathedral
The towering, massive and slender pillars emphasize the height of the extravagant vaulting, while elegantly arch over to support the ribbed vaults | Image: © georgina_daniel

The astounding sight of this sumptuous Gothic haven is a jaw-dropping experience. With a length of 126 metres by 83 metres wide along with a soaring 37 metres in height at the transept and central nave, this colossal cathedral is extremely spacious, airy and exudes an overall sense of harmony. The towering, massive and slender pillars emphasize the height of the extravagant vaulting, while elegantly arch over to support the ribbed vaults. Much of the vaulting is simple and modest, with some uniquely designed geometrical patterns on the ceiling.

There are five aisles laid out in this rectangular floor plan. Much of the aisles are empty and this adds to the immense space that one feels upon entering this cathedral.

towering columns in the Seville Cathedral
towering columns and beautiful geometrical patterns on the ceiling of Seville Cathedral | © georgina_daniel

The interior is relatively dark but illuminating the interior are the noted 81 stained glass windows which represents the very core of the grandeur of a Gothic cathedral. The oldest stained glass windows dates back to the 13th century, while it is estimated about 75 dates from the 16th to the 19th century.

2 | Silver Altar at Seville Cathedral – A mastery of Sevillian silversmithing

Silver Altar at the majestic Seville Cathedral
Silver Altar at Seville Cathedral showcasing a mastery of Sevillian silversmithing | © georgina_daniel

At the northern arm of the transept, is the magnificent Silver Altar, named after the abundant use of silver by the famous silversmiths of Seville.

The centrepiece is the statue of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus with the sculptures of San Isidoro and San Leandro on the sides.

Standing testament to the incredible mastery of Sevillian silversmithing are the large, exquisitely crafted sun-like shaped silver monstrance at the rear of the centrepiece which is topped with an intricately designed silver crown.

Just above the Silver Altar is a fine painting of the Ascension of the Virgin Mary. Above this painting, sits a lovely stained-glass window depicting the Ascension of Jesus, by Carlos de Brujas in 1588.

3 | High Altar Main Chapel (Capilla Mayor) at Seville Cathedral

Main Altar Seville Cathedral
The High Altar is a dazzling showpiece-the largest Gothic altar in the world | © georgina_daniel

In the centre of the Cathedral is the magnificent High Altar. A masterpiece.

The High Altar is an opulent showpiece of Gothic woodcarving measuring 20 metre high and 23 metre wide – the largest Gothic altar in the world. Given its height, the sculptures higher up are larger, just so to keep the perspective when viewed from floor level. The centre piece features the Virgen de la Sede and is surrounded by 45 wood panels of carvings depicting the Life of Christ and His Apostles along with the Life of the Virgin.

The design of the High Altar was initiated by Pieter Dancart, a Flemish artist in 1482. The 45 panels of intricate work of art which include over 200 figures of saints took some 80 years to complete.

The exquisite masterpiece is lavishly gilded with 3 tons of pure gold brought back from the Americas during the Age of Discovery, pioneered by Christopher Columbus.

pretty geometrical ceiling in Seville Cathedral | timelesstravelsteps.com
beautiful geometrical patterns cover the vaulted ceiling | Image: © georgina_daniel

The vaulted ceiling above is covered with beautiful, geometrical patterns that are aesthetically pleasing. The vaulted ceiling rests on slender, tall and massive columns that are lined up along the naves. Just below the vaulted ceiling are some stained glass windows.

4 | Tomb of Christopher Columbus at Seville Cathedral

Tomb of Christopher Columbus in Seville Cathedral, Seville

One of the last additions to the majestic Seville Cathedral is the monument to Christopher Columbus in 1899. The tomb of Christopher Columbus is one of the famous attractions at Seville Cathedral. His sarcophagus is held aloft by four life-sized statues who symbolically represent the four kingdoms of Spain during his time — Castile, Aragon, Navara and Leon. The bronze plate rectangular bottom of the coffin is inscribed with the coat-of-arms of Spain along with words in Spanish which reads:

Seville Cathedral
The inscriptions: Aqui jacen los restos de Cristobal Colon desde 1796 los guardo la Habana y este sepulcro por R.D.to de 26 de febrero de 1891 | Seville Cathedral | Image: © georgina_daniel

Aqui jacen los restos de Cristobal Colon desde 1796 los guardo la Habana y este sepulcro por R.D.to de 26 de febrero de 1891

Translated to read in English:

(Here lies the remains of Cristobal Colon kept in Havana since 1796 and this sepulchre by R.D.to of February 26, 1891)

Christopher Columbus Seville Cathedral | timelesstravelsteps.com
viewed from rear of Christopher Columbus’ monument Seville Cathedral | Image: © TTS photographer

The four kingdoms were united into one nation, (modern Spain) by Queen Isabella I and her husband Ferdinand who also funded the explorer’s journey to the New World in 1492.

4.1 | A little about Christopher Columbus

Born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451, Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon in Spanish) was the famous explorer and navigator who completed four voyages across the Atlantic. He believed that he ‘discovered’ the New World of the Americas, although he never really discovered North America. His exploration brought much trade and wealth to Seville. He was revered a local hero. He died in 1506 at Valladolid, Spain.

Columbus was buried in Valladolid but was moved to Seville in 1509. He was subsequently moved to Santa Domingo in 1537 but he was moved again in 1778 to Cuba.

It is believed that following Cuba’s independence, the remains of Christopher Columbus were returned to Seville in 1898 and was finally laid to rest in Seville Cathedral. It is guaranteed, according to a DNA test in 2006, that the bones in the coffin at Seville Cathedral is that of Christopher Columbus. Sadly, the coffin only has a fifth or less of his bones.

His sarcophagus that is seen at the Seville Cathedral today was designed by sculptor Arturo Melida and was initially installed in Havana, Cuba before being moved to Seville.

4.2 | Ferdinand Columbus – Second son of Christopher Columbus

Seville Cathedral Andalusia
Ferdinand Columbus’ tombstone is etched on the floor below the central nave near the west entrance in Seville Cathedral | Image: © georgina_daniel

Ferdinand Columbus also known as Fernando Colón, or Hernando Colon was the second son to Christopher Columbus. Ferdinand was a bibliographer and a cosmographer. He wrote a biography of his father entitled, The Life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus by his son, Ferdinand.

Ferdinand also started a private collection of books and created a library called, La Bibliotheca Colombina. This library is now located on the north side of Patio de los Naranjos.

Ferdinand Columbus is buried in Seville Cathedral. His tombstone is etched on the floor below the central nave near the west entrance.

5 | Royal Chapel (Capilla Real)

The Royal Chapel is a lavish Renaissance styled chapel and is the final resting place of King Ferdinand III of Castille, who reconquered Seville, his wife and Alfonso the Wise, along with their descendant King Peter the Just. King Ferdinand was canonised in 1671 and his tomb is inscribed in Arabic, Hebrew, Latin and Castilian.

Much of the Royal Chapel was completed during the reign of Charles V, King of Spain (Castile and Aragon) from 1516 1556. The chapel is surrounded by an 18th century grille. Steps lead to the crypt below.

6 | Side Chapels and Art in Seville Cathedral

Along with statues and tombs, Seville Cathedral is host to some exquisite works of art.

The side chapels are home to some opulent tombs – the Gothic monument of Juan de Cervantes in the Capilla de San Hermenegildo and the tomb of Arcbishop Mendoza in the Capilla de la Antigua are worth seeing.

7 | Sacristy and Treasury

majestic Seville Cathedral
The dome is sculpted with the Final Judgement in three rings | Image: © georgina_daniel

The architectural details of the Main Sacristy (Sacristia Mayor) are an exquisite Renaissance style addition to the Gothic Cathedral. The Greek cross-shaped structure is adorned with columns, richly decorated with plateresque details and crowned by a circular dome. The dome is sculpted with the Final Judgement in three rings (the fiery hell is the lowest ring) and a beautiful roof lantern designed to provide daylight to the hall below.

Preserved within these walls of the sacristy are art treasures that highlight the glorious era of when Christianity was core and religious art flourished in Seville. Finely crafted liturgical items, custodias and crosses made of gold and silver are on display, while the walls are adorned with masterpieces by Goya, Murillo, Campaña (1503 – 1586) and Zurbarán (1598 – 1664).

Click the below to watch a sneak preview. Click the replay button if you wish to watch it again:

The Main Sacristy, Seville Cathedral, Seville

8 | La Giralda of the majestic Seville Cathedral (Bell Tower)

Giralda Tower and Seville Cathedral
Giralda Tower and Seville Cathedral | Image: © TTS photographer

The Giralda is the Bell Tower at Seville Cathedral and stands as a symbol of the city of Sevilla’s multicultural heritage. The tower was originally a minaret to the 12th century Almohad mosque but was converted to a church tower after the reconquest. The base of the tower is a testament to the Moorish influence while later additions were made during the Renaissance years. The tower was topped in the 16th century with a four metre high bronze statue, nicknamed Giraldillo, for its function as a weather vane. A full size copy of this weather vane can be seen at the main entrance to the Cathedral (Door of the Prince).

The Giralda Tower is accessible via ramps. Visitors walk up the 35 ramps and there is a short flight of stairs at the top.

Entry to Giralda Tower is included in all ticket types to Seville Cathedral.

Recommended read: The Bell Tower at Seville Cathedral

9 | Patio de los Naranjos

Seville Cathedral, the fountain in Patio de los Naranjos
the fountain in the centre of Patio de los Naranjos, Seville Cathedral | Image: © TTS photographer

Finally, exiting the Seville Cathedral is via Door of the Conception into a pleasant courtyard full of orange trees, Patio de los Naranjos, located on the northern facade of the Catedral de Sevilla.

Patio de los Naranjos has its origins in the Moorish era. There is a fountain in the centre of the courtyard that once was the spot that served as an ablution area for the Almohad mosque.

This nice little courtyard is perfect to relax in, both before and after visiting Seville Cathedral.

II | Seville Cathedral’s Exterior Highlights

seville cathedral exterior
view over the exterior of Seville Cathedral as you climb up the ramps to the bell tower

The majestic Seville Cathedral has an exterior encompassing magnificent Gothic characteristics. With tall structures, flying buttresses and beautifully adorned doors makes this gigantic structure strikingly pleasing.

There are a total of 15 doors (puertas). Most of the these doors are kept inaccessible and only three primary entrances/exits are often in use. Here are some of the Cathedral’s exterior highlights in addition to the Patio de los Naranjos.

1 | The Door of Assumption or Main Door

Door of Assumption Seville Cathedral | timelesstravelsteps.com
The Door of Assumption Seville Cathedral | Image: © TTS photographer

This elaborately decorated entrance is located on the west of the cathedral. This remain closed at most times and is open only during festivals.

2 | Door of the Conception | Puerta de la Concepción, Catedral de Sevilla

Door of Assumption Seville Cathedral | timelesstravelsteps.com

Door of the Conception (Puerta de la Concepción) is a Gothic style door at the entrance to the north facade of the cathedral. This ornate door was crafted by Demetrio de los Rios and the work was completed in 1895 by Fernandez Casanova.

Visitors exit through this door through to Patio de los Naranjos.

3 | Door of the Prince | Puerta del Príncipe

Seville Cathedral
Door of the Prince at Seville Cathedral | Image: ©TTS photographer

Door of the Prince also known as Puerta de San Cristobal and is the entrance to the south of the cathedral. It was built by the same architect, Fernandez Casanova between 1887 and 1895.

Standing in front of Puerta del Príncipe is a bronze statute of a young woman dressed in traditional Roman attire, holding a shield and a cross. She is a symbol of victory of Christian Faith. This sculpture is a replica of El Giraldillo, atop the Giralda Tower. However, this sculpture does not rotate.

4 | The Door of Forgiveness (Puerta del Perdón)

Door of Forgiveness Seville Cathedral | timelesstravelsteps.com
Door of Forgiveness Sevile Cathedral Spain | Image: ©TTS photographer

The Door of Forgiveness or Puerta del Perdón in Spanish was the main entrance to the Almohad mosque during the Moorish times. These days, the Door of Forgiveness acts as one of the visitors’ entrance to the Cathedral. The name originates from the believe of the faithfuls that only sinners entered through this door to seek forgiveness.

door of forgiveness Seville | timelesstravelsteps.comCathedral
a closer look at the fusion of architecture on the Door of Forgiveness at the majestic Seville Cathedral | Image: ©TTS photographer

The Door of Forgiveness at the majestic Seville Cathedral tells the story of fusion of Christian and Islamic art. The horseshoe shaped arch is the heritage of the Almohad era while the surrounding plasterwork is from the 16th century. Flanking the arch are four beautiful statues. On the left are Archangels Gabriel and St Peter and on the right are Virgin Mary and St Paul. Above the arch is a depiction of Jesus expelling merchants from the temple.


III | Practical tips to support your visit to Seville Cathedral

Seville Cathedral is located in Barrio Santa Cruz, the heart of the historic city of Seville. The neighbourhood’s maze of winding streets and hidden corners offer a multitude of varied dining options, vibrant nightlife and widest range of accommodations ranging from 5-star to budget. You may also wish to stay a little out of the city and take the inexpensive tram, metro or taxis to and from your accommodation.

The heart of Seville is compact and easily walkable. Many of the city’s attractions are close together and only minutes away on foot. It is perfectly feasible to explore several attractions in a day and explore the tapas bars and the night scene, feeling perfectly refreshed!

1 | Where to Stay near Seville Cathedral for Sightseeing

Anywhere in the vicinity and/or within a short walk of Catedral de Sevilla is ideal for visitors to stay.

Luxury Hotels

1 | Hotel Alfonso XIII

One of the most prestigious hotels in Spain, Hotel Alfonso XIII is located within minutes of the Reales Alcazares of Seville and the Catedral de Sevilla. Elegantly designed and include Arabic style arches and beautiful colourful ceramic tiles. Guests also enjoy casual al fresco dining as well as breakfast, lunch or dinner.

2 | Eurostars Sevilla Boutique

Within a short walking distance of Seville Cathedral is the Eurostars Sevilla Boutique. This accommodation provides amazing overview from its rooftop terrace and features an outdoor swimming pool and cafe. Includes complimentary breakfast buffet.

3 | Hotel Palacio De Villapanés

Hotel Palacio De Villapanés is a converted 18th century palace and is located just outside of Bario Santa Cruz. Spacious rooms and modern furniture along with rooftop sun terrace and a small plunge pool makes this accommodation ideal for two travellers.

Other luxury hotels to checkout are:

Hotel Colón Gran Meliá – A Travel Sustainable Property

Radisson Collection Hotel, Magdalena Plaza Sevilla


Mid-range Hotels

1 | Hotel Casa 1800 Sevilla

Hotel Casa 1800 Sevilla is a charming boutique hotel located just steps away from the majestic Seville Cathedral and the Royal Alcazar. The property is a renovated 19th century mansion with a traditional Andalusian central courtyard. Features spacious rooms where some are ideal for 3 person family stay, rooftop terrace and breakfast buffet.

2 | Hotel Amadeus Sevilla

Located within yards of Seville Cathedral in the heart of Barrio Santa Cruz, Hotel Amadeus Sevilla features a roof terrace with views over the city and the Giralda Tower. The property is based on a classical music theme and instruments are available if guests wish to have a go. Guests are welcomed with a complimentary drink in the 18th century interior patio.

3 | Petit Palace Marques Santa Ana – Travel Sustainable Property

A restored 19th century building, Petit Palace Marques Santa Ana is a boutique hotel with wooden floors and stylish modern furnishings. The property features a rooftop terrace with views over the city. Located less than two minutes walk to Seville Cathedral! Continental breakfast is served every day.

**Georgina: We stayed here on our recent visit in November 2021 and couldn’t have been more pleased with its location, cleanliness and helpful staff.

Other mid-range properties to peruse:

Casa 95 Sevilla

Puerta del Principe


4 | Budget Accommodation

1 | La Bella Sevilla

La Bella Sevilla is a small hotel of only 11 rooms located in a quiet pedestrian street within close proximity of Seville Cathedral, Giralda Tower and the Royal Alcazar. Highly rated for its location as guests can visit all the monuments, landmarks and cultural centres without the need for public transport.

2 | Itaca Sevilla

Hotel Itaca Sevilla is a converted mansion house and is located just 800 metres from the Catedral de Sevilla. Features a seasonal swimming pool and free WiFi. Rooms are soundproofed, air-conditioned and has a minibar and flat screen TV.


Recommended: The rich Gothic Palace at Royal Alcazar


2 | Tips and Tours: How to make the best of your visit to Seville Cathedral

1 | Best time to Visit:

Early morning is best as soon as the Cathedral doors open to beat the crowds.

Monday through to Friday: 10:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Sunday: 2:30 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.

** The ticket office closes one hour before the Cathedral and sometimes earlier.

2 | Experience a Mass:

Mass is said daily throughout the day and is free to attend. Check schedule on the official website here.

3 | Tickets to Seville Cathedral and Giralda Tower

If its just the Seville Cathedral you wish to visit, and you do not wish to be in a guided tour, buy the fast-track ticket which gives you access to Catedral de Sevilla and the Giralda Tower. This ticket is valid for the whole day, you do not have to wait in queue and you can explore at your own pace. Peruse and buy your ticket to Seville Cathedral >>

4 | Timing

Allow ample time to explore, at least a couple of hours and a little more if climbing up to the top of the Giralda Tower. Last entry to the Giralda tour is one hour before closing time.

5 | Experience a Journey through Time – A Guided tour of the Roofs of the Cathedral

A tour of the Roofs of Seville Cathedral is offered by the Cathedral at specific times of day. The tour is a journey through time, between 15th and 16 centuries when the Cathedral was built. Tickets for this tour are available directly from the Cathedral’s ticket office. It is not included in the Seville Cathedral and Giralda Tower admission ticket.

6 | Guided Tours

Guided tours of the Cathedral and Giralda Tower are available throughout the week. There are several options to suit visitors’ preferred language also.

Giralda Tower

This tour gives you skip-the-line access with a guided tour of the Cathedral and Giralda. Check availability >>

Alcazar, Cathedral & Giralda

A perfect option if you wish to explore more in a day. Visit Seville Cathedral along with the iconic Real Alcazar with a tour guide who will ensure you know all there is about these two monuments. Check availability >>


3 | What’s Nearby / Nearby attractions

1 | Visit the Royal Alcazar

Visit one of the most important palace complexes in the world for an experience you will never forget.

The Royal Alcazar has captivated one and all with its Mudejar architecture spanning hundreds of years across civilisation, cultures and dynasties. Walk in the footsteps of the Spanish kings and be transported to a different era. Truly an unmissable experience.

Read >> The Real Alcázar of Seville | A Guide to the BEST 22 Unmissable Highlights in the Alcázar Complex

2 | Shopping at Calle de las Sierpes

Take a break from sightseeing and visit one of the best and fun places for shopping in Seville.

Calle de las Sierpes is lined with quaint shops, inviting little boutiques and atmospheric cafes.

3 | Stop for a snack or lunch

Stop-by at Confiteria La Campana for a little treat of candied oranges or figs. Try some Spanish pastries and fuel up to explore more of the city. La Campana has been serving sweet toothed’s since 1885.

On the other hand, if you are peckish and wish to try some delicious tapas, Restaurante Baco is a great place to relax and enjoy a delicious selection of tapas. Great service and friendly staff.

Baco Restaurante Seville
Georgina: “great experience – food was amazing so was the setting and service”

Address: C. Francos, 42, 41004 Sevilla, Spain


Finally … the lasting legacy of the majestic Seville Cathedral

An iconic landmark of Seville the majestic Seville Cathedral is exquisite, immense and a sight to behold. It stands robust after 600 years with a legacy that continues to draw millions of visitors each year. You can gaze from the outside, be blown away when viewing from the top and absolutely marvel at the grandiose and opulence inside from the moment you step in. This is one majestic cathedral not to miss.

Watch this youtube video, a sneak peek into the majestic Seville Cathedral.

the awesomeness of the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world just as you step in …

Our trip to Seville was undertaken in late November, 2021. All travel and safety protocols were adhered to. It was fully self-funded and no part of our trip was sponsored in any way.

xoxo


SEVILLE TRAVEL

Spain Travel Advice

Seville Spain 37.3891° N, 5.9845° W
Seville Spain
37.3891° N, 5.9845° W

UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Royal Alcazar along with Seville Cathedral, & General Archive of the Indies.


Essential Information:

Seville Cathedral

Add: Av. de la Constitución, s/n, 41004 Sevilla, Spain

Hours: 10:45 – 5:00 pm


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The majestic Seville CathedralThe majestic Seville Cathedral

The Giralda Tower in Seville | 5 master features across civilisations to look out for

The Giralda Tower in Seville | 5 master features across civilisations to look out for when you visit

Written by: Georgina | We may earn a commission from affiliate links

Presiding over the city of Seville for almost a millennium is the Giralda, a monument that stands as testament to the fusion of architecture, reflecting the cultures and civilisations that has enriched this historic city.

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Many define it as special while some say it is just built of stone. The Giralda Tower in Seville is indeed unique. It gives a sense of permanence, and perspective on the passage of time across civilisations as well as the union of cultures that is emblematic of the passionate and mysterious Andalusian capital in Southern Spain. Perhaps also, because the iconic Giralda Tower in Seville was born of the Almohad dynasty, a minaret to the then famous mosque and now, is a Renaissance style bell tower for Cathedral Santa Maria de la Sede (simply known as Seville Cathedral) today. The Giralda Tower remain as one of the most iconic symbols of Seville since the Middle Ages.

The Tower offer charming views over the bijou city — Patio de los Naranjos, sounds of guitar music, close-up of the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world and the exotic flamenco rhythms that never fail to seduce and charm you.

Giralda’ means “one that turns” in Spanish and takes its name from the weather vane at the top of the tower (the bronze sculpture).

The Giralda Tower or La Giralda (in Spanish) of Seville Cathedral is recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1987, along with the Real Alcázar and the General Archive of the Indies. It is a popular attraction, accessed from within Seville Cathedral. We highly recommend that you go. La Giralda will not disappoint. Access to Giralda Tower is included in the Tour to the Seville Cathedral.

This guide shares a brief history of the Giralda Tower, features on what makes the tower unique and ways on how to explore the monument.

Planning a short trip to Seville?

The following resources may be helpful also:

Best tips for the Alcazar and Cathedral + Giralda of Seville

Seville Cathedral and Giralda Fast Track Entry

The Giralda Tower in Spain

I | History of the Giralda Tower in Seville

The Giralda Tower was born in 1184 as a minaret to the mosque that was built in 1176. The base of the minaret was in cut stone and the main body of the minaret was built in brick, with a later addition of a small secondary shaft at the top of the tower. Crowning the minaret were four golden balls and metal spheres to top the tower. In addition to bricks sourced locally, recycled marble were used from old Umayyad masterpieces. It was the biggest mosque in the Andalusian territory and the pride of the Almohads during their reign.

1 | The design of the minaret

The mosque had a rectangular floor measuring 113 by 135 metres decorated in Cordoban style with stucco and wood, embellished with sandalwood, ivory, ebony, gold and silver. Its base was a square at street level. The foundation was built with solid stones and the tower consisted of two sections, the main shaft and a smaller shaft with a series of ramps so a horse or donkey could carry the Islamic leader to the top of the tower five times a day so he could call for prayers.

2 | From a minaret to a bell tower

However, when Seville was reconquered in 1248 by the Castillian Christians, the mosque was converted to a cathedral. In doing so, some exits and archways were closed off and a number of small chapels were created. The minaret was used as a bell tower.

3 | Rebuilding of the mosque/cathedral

 Giralda Tower and Seville Cathedral Seville
Giralda Tower and Seville Cathedral, Seville as it is today, 2021 | Image: © TTS photographer

Following the earthquake, rebuilding of the Cathedral commenced. The construction project brought together the best artisans in the trade from all over the Castilian empire, as far as the Netherlands and Germany. Work was entrusted to the famous architect of the time, Hernan Ruiz II. The Cathedral was completed in 1506, after some 106 years.

Known simply as Seville Cathedral, it is the largest Catholic Cathedral of Gothic style in the world.

Recommended read: Seville Cathedral

II | What makes the Giralda Tower in Seville unique | 5 features to lookout for when you visit

The Giralda Tower in Seville
the Renaissance belfry tower at the La Giralda in Seville

There are no great ornaments that adorn La Giralda but its uniqueness lies in its marriage of architecture between a fine example of Arab design of the time and the 16th century Renaissance additions, along with its famous bells in the belfry.

Here are some features across civilisations to look out for when you visit:

1 | Design of the Giralda Tower in Seville

Giralda Tower Seville
The Giralda Tower in Seville, Andalusia, Spain | Imaga: © TTS photographer
the Giralda Tower in Seville
close view of the Giralda Tower in Seville, Andalusia, Spain

When Seville Cathedral was constructed in the 16th century, the architect, Hernan Ruiz II also constructed an extension to the solid stone tower of two shafts and winding ramps. The Christian Renaissance style belfry was added to the top of the tower to house the bells. The belfry was constructed between 1458 and 1568. With the addition of the belfry, the tower stood at 96 metres.

La Giralda Seville

2 | The Bells at the Giralda Tower in Seville

3 | Giraldillo Seville — a symbol of victory

The Giraldillo was originally called the Triumph of the Victorious Faith, to symbolise the victory of Christianity over the Muslim world. It was regarded as the largest sculpture of European Renaissance, weighing at more than 1000 kilograms. It embodies a sculpture of a woman about 4 metres high and 4 metres wide carrying a flag pole and a cross, symbolising the victory of Faith. She is made of bronze and is held together with metal bars, while being supported on a vertical metal axis. The vertical axis allows the statue to rotate around like a weather vane.

The unique design of the Giralda Tower in Seville appears to have inspired some countries or states to replicate their very own towers. More on this, below.

4 | The 35 ramps at the Giralda in Seville

Visitors can visit the belfry and reach the top of the tower via a series of ramps and a short flight of stairs.

ramps at the Giralda Tower in Seville | timelesstravelsteps.com
information on the three sections of the architecture visitors shall encounter | © TTS photographer
ramps at the Giralda Tower in Seville | timeless travel steps
ramps wide enough to walk up | © TTS photographer
ramps at the Giralda Tower in Seville | TTS
windows for light & views | © TTS photographer

There are 35 ramps, wide enough and gently inclining, winding around the perimeter of its core to the top of the tower. You get to walk in the footsteps of history as these are the very same ramps that were placed instead of stairs to ease the journey of a horse that carried the Islamic leader to the top of the tower five times a day so he could call for prayers back in the 12th century.

There is a short flight of stairs to reach the top for spectacular vistas over the historic city of Seville.

5 | The Views over Seville from the Giralda Tower

For a 360 view of the historic city of Seville, you need to reach the belfry. As you climb to the belfry, up the 35 ramps, you can stop at each ramp and look out the windows to view the surroundings. At the belfry, you can walk around the four sides for spectacular views of Seville.

panoramic view from belfry of the Giralda Tower Seville eastern end of Saville Cathedral
panoramic view from the belfry of the Giralda Tower Seville eastern end of Saville Cathedral
View of Patio de los Naranjos-Courtyard of the Orange Trees
View of Patio de los Naranjos-Courtyard of the Orange Trees from the belfry of the Giralda Tower Seville. Image shows the garden of orange trees, enclosed by buildings of the Seville Cathedral complex.

III | The Giralda Tower in Seville has inspired other buildings

There are some towers across the world that appear to have borrowed their design from the La Giralda. Here are just a few as examples.


IV | How to visit the Giralda Tower

There are so many ways with a good selection of ticket options to visit the Giralda Tower for best experience. You could select from either to visit on your own by pre purchasing your ticket online or select to join a guided tour. Both options are available by pre purchasing your ticket online and both include priority access. Your experience will be significantly enhanced if you opt for a guided tour as you will learn of the history from a knowledgeable guide.

TTS recommends the following three best ways to experience the La Giralda to suit your interests:

Giralda Tower

1 | Explore independently by pre purchasing a ticket online that gives you skip-the-line access.

Check availability here >>

Giralda Tower tours

2 | Join a small group guided tour with priority access to Seville Cathedral and La Giralda.

Learn more about this option and check availability here >>

Alcazar, Cathedral & Giralda

3 | Explore all three monuments in half a day with a guide and priority access. Learn all there is to know about these iconic landmarks from your expert guide.

Learn more about this option and check availability >>

SEVILLE TRAVEL

Spain Travel Advice

Seville Spain 37.3891° N, 5.9845° W
Seville Spain
37.3891° N, 5.9845° W

UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Royal Alcazar along with Seville Cathedral, & General Archive of the Indies.


Essential Information:

Seville Cathedral

Add: Av. de la Constitución, s/n, 41004 Sevilla, Spain

Hours: 10:45 – 5:00 pm




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The Giralda Tower in SpainThe Giralda Tower in Spain

The rich Gothic Palace at Royal Alcazar of Seville

The Gothic Palace at Royal Alcazar of Seville

To have the best experience, book online well in advance of your visit to ensure you are not disappointed on the day as the Alcazar operate on a maximum capacity rule.

The Gothic Palace at Royal Alcazar

The Gothic Palace at Royal Alcazar of Seville | El Palacio Gótico

The Gothic Palace at Royal Alcazar of Seville
Gothic Palace at Royal Alcazar of Seville

The Gothic Palace was built by the Castilian King Alfonso X, also known as Alfonso the Wise. Alfonso X succeeded Ferdinand III of Castile who reconquered Seville from the Islamic rulers in December 1248.

The Gothic Palace consists of two rectangular rooms sitting parallel to each other and two smaller rooms at each end.

These rooms were built in the 13th century over what was the Almohad’s palace. Alfonso X found the caliphs palace to be cramped and unsuited to his lifestyle. He preferred high, airy spaces and Gothic art. Gothic art and architecture was popular during this time as it closely related to Christianity and the Crusades. Furthermore, opting for a Gothic architecture along with the construction of the Gothic Palace over the Almohad’s palace symbolised the Christians triumph over Islam.

All four rooms were covered with vaults supported by pillars but in the 16th century, the pillars were replaced with large windows that open to the garden while the walls and floors were decorated with tiles.

The El Palacio Gótico’s four rooms are Tapestry Room, Garden Room, the Vault Room and the Chapel.

This section of the Royal Alcazar palace complex is accessed through the porticoed gallery crossing connected to the Hunting Courtyard or from the southeast side of the Maiden’s Courtyard.

Recommended read: The Real Alcázar of Seville | A Guide to the BEST 22 Unmissable Highlights in the Alcázar Complex

The rooms in the Gothic Palace at Royal Alcazar of Seville

The entrance to the Gothic Palace was added in the 18th century, after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. The following are the highlights of the Gothic Palace.

1 | The Tapestry Room

the Gothic palace at the royal alcazar
the tapestry room: Gothic Palace at Royal Alcazar of Seville

The Tapestry Room is an impressive salon decorated with a collection of tapestries (copies of the originals) depicting the military conquest of Tunis by Charles I, made in 1730s. The work is extraordinary and details the ships, sailors, smoke from cannons and African towns.

2 | The Vault Room also known as the Great Hall or the Party Room

The Vault Room is a typical Gothic cross-ribbed vaulted ceiling which were originally held by full height columns, but were replaced in the 16th century to allow for tile work.

The room is emblematic of traditional Sevillano albero yellow and the stunning Renaissance tiles depict allegorical figures from mythology and exotic birds. Embedded also are historical figures of Charles V and Isabella of Portugal whose wedding is believed to have taken place here.

3 | The Chapel | Gothic Palace at Royal Alcazar of Seville

The Chapel in the Gothic Palace has its original Gothic roof, medieval rib vaults and pretty wall and floor tiles of Renaissance style that was added in the 16th century. The Chapel’s key attraction is the 18th century painting by Diego de Castillejo on the altar featuring the Virgin of Antiquity (Virgen de la Antigua). The original of the Virgin of Antiquity is at the Seville Cathedral.

Archaeological mysteries at the Chapel in the Gothic Palace at the Real Alcazar – 2021

In early 2021, work was undertaken to restore the 16th century Renaissance tiles at the Chapel. During this restoration, a coffin with the remains of a young child was found under the floor tiles near the main altar of the Chapel in the Gothic Palace at Royal Alcazar.

Visiting the Gothic Palace at the Royal Alcazar

There are several options to visit the Royal Alcazar but the following have been carefully picked for you:

1 | Best Ticket for Priority Visit to Royal Alcazar Seville

Breeze by the long queues and enjoy the oldest royal palace in Europe still in use with the best in priority visit to Royal Alcazar in Seville. The Royal Alcazar Priority gives you priority access and includes a live tour guide, in a small group to ensure you have the best experience.

More information and check availability >>


2 | Best tips for the Alcazar and Cathedral + Giralda of Seville

Visit the best of historic Seville in half-a-day — The Alcazar and Cathedral + Giralda Tower of Seville, Spain. Tickets from £42.00

More information and check availability >>

Spain Travel Advice

Seville Spain 37.3891° N, 5.9845° W
Seville Spain
37.3891° N, 5.9845° W

Essential Information on the Real Alcázar of Seville :

UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Seville Cathedral, & General Archive of the Indies.

Where: Plaza del Triunfo

Nearest Metro station is Puerta de Jerez.

Phone: 954 50 23 24

http://www.alcazarsevilla.org/

Hours: Apr-Sept: 9:30 am to 7 pm | Oct-Mar: 9:30 am to 5 pm


Essential Information you need to know before your visit:

Visitor capacity

The Palace has a maximum capacity of 750 visitors. When it is full, it is full! Waiting times can be extremely long during peak times. Avoid the queues, save time and book ahead your skip-the-line tickets.

Skip-the-Line Tickets:

Seville Alcazar Priority Entrance + Guided Tour

Guided Tour of Seville Alcazar, Cathedral & Giralda

Skip the Line Ticket to the Real Alcázar of Seville

More ticket options >>


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The Gothic Palace at Royal AlcazarThe Gothic Palace at Royal Alcazar

The Real Alcázar of Seville

The Real Alcázar of Seville | A Guide to the BEST 22 Unmissable Highlights in the Alcázar Complex

Written by: Georgina | We may earn a commission from affiliate links

A rich history, stunning architecture, exquisite tile work and glorious gardens, the Real Alcázar of Seville is a breathtaking spectacle and a joy to explore.


Visiting the Real Alcázar of Seville

The Real Alcázar of Seville is an exceptional and the most popular attraction in the Andalusian city, therefore long queues at entry are expected. To reduce waiting time, pre-purchasing a ticket is advisable at www. alcazarsevilla.org/

In either case, this perfect guide has all the information you are looking for to plan and accompany you on your visit to the Real Alcázar in Seville. So, come, walk along with me …

The Real Alcázar of Seville


The Real Alcázar of Seville, Andalusia

Part I | A brief history on the Real Alcázar in Seville

Let’s begin with a brief history …

The Alcázar was born as a fort to the then Cordoban governors of Seville but an angry revolt in 913 led to its destruction and the occupation by the first caliph of Andalusia, Abd al-Rahman III. He built a stronger and dominant fort on a site where a Visigothic church had once stood to protect the city of Seville from attacks. The major rebuild came in the 11th century when the fortified construction was enlarged, stables and storage facilities were added along with a palace, known as Al-Mubarak which means “the Blessed” was built. The Al-Mubarak is on what’s now the western part of the royal palace complex.

When the 12th century came along, another palace was added to the east of Al-Mubarak by the Almohad rulers, and what is now known as the Patio del Crucero.

There are still some archaeological remains of the Almohad palaces and these are preserved under the slabs of the Montería Courtyard (Patio de la Montería), the main courtyard of the Real Alcázar of Seville.

In the mid 14th century, between 1364 and 1366, King Pedro I built the magnificent Mudéjar Palace, which remains to this day as the core of the Real Alcázar complex. He was known as Pedro the Cruel and lived in the palace with his mistress, Maria de Padilla. Some referred to him as Pedro the Just because he defended the Muslims and the Jews. Whether he was Pedro the Cruel or Pedro the Just, he left a remarkable legacy in the form of a majestic palace for all to relish.

Later, the Catholic monarchs, King Ferdinand II of Aragon and his wife, Isabella I, Queen of Aragon came to rule Seville (1474 – 1504). They extended the upper floors and converted these into their main residence. These upper floor royal apartments are still in use and open to viewing by the public with a special timed ticket.

What is in the ‘name’ – Real Alcázar

The word “alcazar” originates from the Arabic word “al-qasr” meaning “the castle” while “Real” means “Royal” in Spanish. Hence, Real Alcázar means Royal Castle/Palace.

The official name is “Reales Alcázares de Sevilla” or Royal Alcázar of Seville. The palace name aptly represents the very many palace complex and gardens that evolved over time reflecting the rich history of the Muslim and Christian cultures in its architecture.

No matter how you reference it, Real Alcázar de Sevilla, Royal Alcázar of Seville, Real Alcázar of Seville or simply as the Alcázar, the royal palace in Seville is one of the most exceptionally enchanting places to visit.

Part II | The Best 22 Unmissable “see and do” in the Real Alcázar palace complex in Seville

The Royal Alcázar of Seville is vast! The gardens alone are said to be over 24,000 acres plus the 4.2 acres of opulent and historic buildings, though not all is accessible to the public. It can take almost half a day, if not more to explore this majestic place to your heart’s content. Every part of the palace is absolutely wonderful but there are some sights which you must not miss. From its many architectural styles, grand halls, majestic courtyards to mystical secret baths, the Royal Palace of Seville will captivate you and take you on a journey through the ages.

* The architectural styles of the Real Alcázar in Seville

While there still exists some remnants of the ancient architecture of the Al-Mubarak, the Real Alcázar of Seville has seen many architectural styles succeed one another throughout the centuries.

1 | A unique blend of architectural styles

the Real Alcázar of Seville
horseshoe designs - Moorish architecture the Royal Palace of Alcazar

The Moorish style encompassed rectangular centre with four corners of living spaces. Decorated with horseshoe and interlacing arches, intricate ornamentation of Islamic art with arabesques, calligraphy and geometric patterns using plaster and tiles.

Other parts of the Real Alcázar underwent a series of 19th century renovations, including the alluring Courtyard of the Maidens.

Added to the Alcázar’s unique architecture, is its tile decorations.

2 | Intricate designs on the Tiles

The Royal Alcázar exhibits one of the best tile decorations in the world combining three traditions: Islam, Gothic Europe and Renaissance Italy. A distinctive melting pot of cultures is evident in the art of arista and majolica ceramics developed in the 16th century.

The arista style was developed in the early 16th century during the Renaissance period. An aesthetic of Andalusian architecture especially during the reigns of the Catholic monarchs (Ferdinand II and Isabella I) and the Emperor Charles V was one of colour! Bold, rich colours of green, yellow, and blue were brought together to form a design on either a single tile or four tiles. The body of the tile has different motifs, sizes and shapes with each segment having raised ridges. The tiles were placed on walls and decorated to form either vertical or horizontal panels.

A beautiful selection of the timeless pieces are exhibited as part of the Carranza Collection at the Real Alcázar in the House of Trade.


* Entering the Royal Palace of Seville

The palace complex is accessed through the historic 12th century gate, Puerta del León (The Lion’s Gate) located at Plaza del Triunfo.

3 | The Lion’s Gate | Puerta del León at the Royal Palace of Seville

Above the doors, there is a depiction of a lion with a crown, a cross in his claws bearing Gothic script across. A grand reminder that despite the influences of Islam represented by the Mudéjar style, it is a palace very much owned by Christians.

4 | Patio del León at Alcázar Seville

Once you are through the Lion’s Gate, a beautiful corridor welcomes you, Patio del León leading to an ancient arched wall structure. This was the garrison yard of the original Al-Mubarak palace. Just before the arches, on the left, is the Sala de la Justicia (Hall of Justice), and beyond this, is Patio del Yeso which was part of the 12th century Almohad palace.

Beyond this ancient arched wall, you shall enter into a large courtyard. This courtyard is known as Patio de la Montería or the Hunting Courtyard).


Begin with the Hall of Justice

5 | Hall of Justice, Alcázar Seville

The Hall of Justice was the first Moorish work in the Alcázar and was built in 1311 by Alfonso XI. The walls have stone benches, providing seating spaces, a feature that do not exist in any other room of the palace complex. There is a delightful fountain in the middle, and inviting sense of calmness in the room. The Hall of Justice connects to Patio del Yeso.

6 | Patio del Yeso at the Royal Palace of Seville

The Real Alcázar Seville

Patio del Yeso is a small courtyard which was part of the Almohad residence from the 12th century. It is believed to be the oldest part of the palace. Also, it was the residence of Pedro I before the Mudéjar Palace was built. The courtyard was rediscovered in late 19th century and restored between 1918-1920.

There is a sense of calmness here despite there being several people around.

7 | Patio de la Montería | The Hunting Courtyard

Below the slabs of the courtyard lies archaeological finds of the Almohad palaces from the 12th century.


* Casa de Contratacion | House of Trade

The House of Trade was established in 1503. The current front patio was added in the 17th century.

Casa de Contratacion was the centre from whence the Spanish Empire once ruled from early 16th century to 1717. This was the headquarters where ‘top secrets’ were stored, voyages were planned, crews assembled, contracts signed, navigational maps and charts drawn up. It was here that Christopher Columbus signed his famous contract to sail to the Indies with Queen Isabella I of Aragon in 1492.

8 | Staircase to the Upper Palace of the Alcázar Seville

Take the staircase that leads to the upper palace. It is an important part of the palace that was built in the 16th century during the reign of King Philip II. The decorative tiles that adorns the walls are copies of the originals, presently at “Madre de Dios” Convent, in Seville.

9 | Admirals’ Room at the House of Trade, Real Alcázar Seville

9.1 | Virgen de los Navigantes (Virgin of the Navigators) at the Royal Palace of Seville

At the northern end of the Admirals’ room, is the Chapterhouse (Sala de Audiencias), which was restored in 1967. The central altar piece is the celebrated Virgen de los Navigantes (Virgin of the Navigators) by Alejo Fernandez from around 1536. Sailors pray to her before embarking on their voyage. She is surrounded by four saints. Saint Sebastian and Saint James on the left; Saint Telmo and Saint John the Baptist on the right.

Also displayed in the Admirals’ Room is a model of “Santa Maria”, Columbus’ flagship. The Fan Room houses some rare fans made of ivory, feathers and pearls. As well, at home here is the Carranza Collection (mentioned above), a little museum dedicated to a collection of 171 priceless Moorish ceramics.


Next explore the resplendent Pedro’s Mudéjar Palace.

* Pedro’s Mudéjar Palace, Seville

The facade to Pedro’s Palace is the quintessence of Mudéjar architecture. Moorish features such as arches, columned windows and Arabic lettering sits harmoniously along Christian words and Kingdom of León coat of arms. The inscriptions declares in Spanish that the palace’s creator as “the highest, noblest and most powerful conqueror Don Pedro, by God’s grace King of Castilla and León” while in Arabic, it indicates “there is no conqueror but Allah”

Unusually, oriental styles are incorporated as well. There is the square roof and projecting portico with carvings in green, red and gold which gives a somewhat Asian feel. The fascinating combination of styles sets a tone to what to expect when you venture indoors — splendour, magnificence and a walk through various centuries.

10 | Courtyard of the Maidens | Patio de las Doncellas Real Alcázar, Seville

Courtyard of the Maidens is an enchanting rectangular patio with a sunken garden, an elegant long reflecting pool, painstakingly crafted marble columns and 24 elaborate arches with intricate designs, surrounded by lavish royal rooms. The delightful details on each arch and the carvings are akin to delicate lace. The layout is balanced and geometric in design, displaying harmony. Utterly spellbinding.

The Maidens’ Courtyard was built in the 13th century when Christians returned to rule Seville. The upper floors were added in the 16th century by King Charles/Carlos V. These were primarily of Renaissance design and some mudéjar decorations were incorporated also. It took some 32 years to complete, from 1540 through to 1572.

The sunken garden was discovered recently in 2005 by archaeologists and restored to its original 14th century form. It was paved over in 1570s after Pedro’s death.

“Courtyard of the Maidens” takes its name from rather a degraded old legend. Apparently, the Moors demanded 100 virgins every year from the Christian rulers!

Take your time to walk around.


11 | Royal Quarters around the patio

Around the rectangular patio are royal quarters. All rooms feature stunningly beautiful ceilings, tiles and stucco.

The Infant Room looks out to the Galley Garden, has wooden shutters with metal works that carries Arabic calligraphy. Charles V Ceiling Room was designed as a chapel, and has a Renaissance ceiling from 1543. The Royal Chamber has a winter room designed to receive sunlight and a much cooler summer room with a barrel-vault ceiling.

Across the Maidens’ Courtyard is the spectacular Ambassadors’ Hall.

Stay tuned to Read more on the Courtyard of the Maidens here to be published soon

12 | Hall of Ambassadors | Salón de los Embajadores at the Real Alcázar

The Hall of Ambassadors is a melting pot of Seville’s historic cultures and has its origins in the 11th century.

One can see the influences of both the Islam and Christian religions as well as their cultures. A squared room, symbolises the earth and the dome above, the night sky, the universe. Remarkable decorations forming a star joins the circle to the square, upholding the Mudéjar aesthetic delights. The arches have frieze work, along with motifs of castles and lions. The architect was inspired by the Hall of the Pleiades, built by the poet-king al-Mutamid, ruler of Seville in the 11th century.

The room was the centrepiece of the palace during the reign of King Pedro I. Known as the ‘Throne Room’, it was here that Pedro received his elite guests.

Pro tip: When visiting here, don’t forget to look up (pictured above) and use the angled mirror in the room to see the designs close-up.

The dome was added in 1427 and is distinctly regal, exuding a touch of dominance.

On the western side of the Ambassadors’ Hall sits the beautiful Peacock Arch (Arco de Pavones) named after the peacock, animal and floral motifs introduced to decorate this flamboyant room.

The Arch leads onto Felipe II Ceiling Room. The ceiling is Renaissance, known as “half round.” Decorated with geometric motifs from 1589 – 1591. Beyond this is the Prince’s Garden.

From the Ambassadors’ Hall, you will reach the Patio de las Muñecas.

13 | The Courtyard of Dolls | Patio de las Muñecas Alcázar Sevilla

The Courtyard of Dolls is much smaller than the Maidens Courtyard but is equally exquisite. The Courtyard gets its name from the doll faces that adorns the arches.

If you find a doll’s face on the arches, you are lucky as it is said to bring good fortune when found.

Each of the columns are unique, and originate from Italica, an ancient Roman settlement outside of Seville. The tops of each column bears inscriptions from the Quran, and comes from Medina Azahara, a Moorish palace abandoned by the Caliphs outside the city of Cordoba.

This small courtyard was designed to accommodate the palace’s private quarters, for the use of the king and his family. It opens to 3 bedrooms and the Prince’s Garden.

The Dolls Courtyard had undergone extensive renovations over the years. The top two floors are 19th century additions with plaster work brought in from Alhambra. The rooms were also completely refurbished. It has an awesome glass ceiling that lights up the room!

13.1 | The Catholic Monarchs’ Room | Salon de los Reyes Católicos

Also known as the Moorish Kings’ Bedroom, the Catholic Monarchs’ room has a beautiful wooded ceiling, decorated with ribbons and heraldic symbols.

13.2 | Prince’s Suite

The Prince’s Suite has one of the finest Renaissance styled ceilings, an elaborate gold ceiling creating a starlight night sky effect. Along with exquisite scalloped plaster arches, Arabic quotes and lattice tiles. The room was initially used as the Queen’s bedroom until the Catholic queen, Isabella I built the upper floors. Her son, Prince Juan de Aragon was born here, but sadly died at just 19 days. Hence the name of the room.

* The Gothic Palace at the Real Alcázar of Seville

The Gothic Palace can be reached via the porticoed gallery crossing connected to the Patio de la Monteria (the Hunting Courtyard) or via a narrow staircase located on the southeastern side of the Maidens’ Courtyard.

This section of the Real Alcázar is very different to the rest of the palace and does not encompass Mudéjar artwork. It underwent much remodeling in the 13th century by Alfonso X, over the remains of the old Almohad palace, turning it into a beautiful Gothic palace.

The echoing halls were designed for King Carlos V and were added in the 16th century. The stone baroque entrance was added in the 18th century. There are a series of rooms such as the tapestry room, garden room, party room and a Chapel. The most striking of them all is the Hall of Tapestries.

The remains of a child who lived 700 years ago was found in a coffin under the floors of the altar in the Chapel at the Gothic Palace early 2021.

Learn more about the rich Gothic Palace and the archaeological discovery >>

14 | Tapestry Room

tapestry room alcazar seville

In the Hall of Tapestries, there are a series of twelve large tapestries representing the invasion of Tunisia by Carlos V in 1535. It carries extraordinary details of ships carrying sailors, ranks of soldiers, emitting flumes of smoke from cannons. These tapestries are said to be one of the best in the world today.

The original vaulted ceiling in this room was damaged in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. It was later replaced by a baroque design.

Beyond the Hall of Tapestries, is the Courtyard of the Cruise.

15 | Courtyard of the Cruise | Patio del Crucero

The charming Courtyard of the Cruise owes its name to its cross-shape and is considered one of the the most important part of the Almohad palace from the 12th century. It’s initial design consisted only of raised walkways along its four sides and two crossed walkways that met in the middle. At the bottom, there was a central swimming pool surrounded by underground gardens. All kinds of fruits and aromatic trees is said to have grown here. The fruits were basically at one’s fingertips and could be plucked from the platforms.

The lower level medieval garden was buried in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. The present lower level of the patio, along with the corridor leading to the Hunting Courtyard as well as the facade to the Gothic Palace were built in the 18th century in the Baroque style.

Below the raised walkways are vaults that leads to the picturesque secret Baths of Doña Maria de Padilla, mistress to Pedro I.

Beyond the Patio del Crucero, you are met with endless, fragrant, serene oasis of the Alcázar Gardens.

* The Real Alcázar of Seville Gardens

The Gardens at The Real Alcázar of Seville are extensive, unique and reflect the passing of history. Home to at least 20,000 plants, and over 180 plant species to be found in this 60,000 metres square of gardens are some of Europe’s oldest, from Moorish times. The English Garden, the Poets’ Garden and Garden of the Marquis de la Vega Inclán are from the modern 19th century era.

Water plays an important role in the concept of the Alcazar gardens which are the epitome of Moorish garden design. The gentle trickle, gurgle sounds of the fountains and ponds invites you to slowdown and to appreciate the moments in the pleasurable greenery of orderly hedgerows, towering palm trees and oranges.

Linger among the palm trees, cypresses, myrtle, mulberries, magnolia, pomegranate, orange and lemon trees. The scent of oranges were noticeable even in late November when I visited. I can only imagine the scent of marmalade in spring when the orange trees drop their fruits and the ground is covered in them.

There are small courtyards with glittering pools, fountains, ponds, arches and pavilions wherever I turned! The Ladies Garden has an elegant fountain with a statue of Neptune which was totally mesmerising. Secluded shady corners with dainty colourful tiled benches to steal moments and be lost in my faerie world.

I assure you, you will be delightfully lost in this lush and exotic labyrinth of a paradise, soaking into the moments in quiet contentment. To thoroughly enjoy the gardens, give yourself at least 3 hours.

Here are some of the unmissable highlights of the Gardens at The Real Alcázar of Seville.

Begin your garden walk with Mercury’s Pool (Garden of the Pond).

16 | Mercury’s Pool | Garden of the Pond

The Mercury’s Pool is a large pool with a fountain filled with fish. Formerly it was a cistern supplying water to the palace brought from Carmona, a town on the outskirts of Seville. In the centre of the pond is a bronze statue of the Greek god, Mercury, sculpted in 1576. The pond is surrounded by railings and spikes.

On the east side of the Mercury’s Pool, is Galleria de Grutesco.

Recommended read: Mercury’s Pool at the Royal Palace in Seville

17 | Gallery of the Grotesque | Galeria del Grutesco at The Real Alcázar of Seville

Originating from the Almohad era, the wall of Gallery of the Grotesque was lavishly reimagined in the late 16th and early 17th century to as far as the 19th century, giving it the appearance it currently has. The Gallery was constructed using different stones, plastering and painting in between of classic mythological scenes, giving the wall a cave-like look. Known as the Italian Grotto, this wall has an upper gallery of 160 metres that can be accessed via narrow steps, offering incredible vista over the gardens. It was lovely to walk along the corridor, in the shade with the occasional cool breeze.

While here, you may hear tiny little notes of music coming from somewhere … follow it and you will be rewarded with a little treasure at the Fountain of Fame.

18 | Fuente de la Fama Water Organ | The Fountain of Fame at Real Alcázar of Seville

The Fountain of Fame is really something special. It’s a water organ or fountain organ and plays music every hour. The music is generated by the flow of water through its various pipes.

Water organs have been around a long time, since the 3rd century in Alexandria. This one at The Real Alcázar of Seville was built in the 17th century and is the only one of four in the world and the only one in Spain.

19 | Dance Garden at Alcázar of Seville

Next to Mercury’s Pool, on the west, via some stairs down, is the Garden of Dance, curated in the 1570s. The graceful little metal staircase dates from 1610. In the centre, there is a low fountain from the 16th century. The botanical elements constitute magnolias, acanthus, pitchardias, as well as Canary Island palms, trumpeters, spireas, celestinas and wire vines.

From here, you can access the secret Baths of Doña Maria de Padilla.

20 | Baths of Doña Maria de Padilla at The Real Alcázar of Seville

One of the most picturesque, sensational and an obligatory stop is the Baths of Doña Maria de Padilla when visiting the historic Real Alcázar of Seville. The fresh air, infinite arches, reflections on the water and the subject of many legends makes this mysterious underground bath an unmissable spot at the Alcázar.

Built around the 12th century to a medieval Almohad structure, the vaults were used to store rainwater and food. During Pedro’s rule, these were turned to underground bath and used by Doña Maria de Padilla, his mistress. The temperature inside is about 15°C lower than the outside. Sunlight seeps through the sides, and the reflections of the arches on its clear water makes this a surreal scene.

Recommended read: Baths of Doña Maria de Padilla at The Real Alcázar of Seville > coming soon

21 | Carlos V Pavilion | Charles V Pavilion at the Royal Palace in Seville

The square tiled pavilion in the lush gardens of the Alcázar was formerly a qubba (an oratory) and was known as Jardin de la Alcoba. It was converted between 1543 and 1546, in Mudéjar style. The Spanish Emperor, Charles V had his dinners here in the summer months. Home to splendid tapestries and is said to be the oldest building in the gardens. Its walls, as well as its benches are covered in 16th century tiles. The exterior is surrounded by four semicircular arches supported on marble columns.

Take a breather and sit on one of its beautiful benches for a moment or two. Soak in the nature and sanctuary this garden of eden bestows. You can’t go into the Carlos V Pavilion at the moment.

Nearby the Pavilion, there is an orange tree, said to be planted by Pedro I which makes it over 600 years old! Orange trees were favourite of the Arabs and were used for ornamental purposes. The fruits are sour and not for consumption. Don’t eat them.

Carlos V Pavilion was another location used for Game of Thrones .

22 | Garden Cafe

The Garden Cafe at the The Real Alcázar of Seville is hidden in the corner of the English Garden, obscured by trees and plants. Not a great selection of snacks but it is a nice place for a quick coffee and to watch a peacock or two strut their stuff.


There is so much more to the gardens at the Alcázar that I decided to dedicate an entire post on it which will be published soon. Stay tuned. Ensure you are Subscribed! Read > Gardens of the Royal Alcázar in Seville


Finally …

As autumn leads into winter, colour does not fade from the scene in the Real Alcázar gardens. The sky remains blue, the famed tiles glisten in the sun and brighten many a corner but the colour orange seems to prevail. Orange doors, orange steps, orange walls, orange gateways and oranges on the ground. There are orange structures peeking in-between the greens of the lush gardens, The view, from the corridors of the Grotto Gallery portray a surreal panorama.

So, when you are at the Real Alcázar of Seville, leave your hurries behind. Immerse in the surroundings, take photos for the Gram, daydream. Let your gaze linger on the palm trees, cypresses, orange trees, oaks … Do a perfect walk of the palace and the gardens — the paths once walked by the Spanish Kings themselves.

this is just me, found my happy corner … enjoyed my visit very much xoxo

Spain Travel Advice

Seville Spain 37.3891° N, 5.9845° W
Seville Spain
37.3891° N, 5.9845° W

Essential Information on the Real Alcázar of Seville :

UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Seville Cathedral, & General Archive of the Indies.

Where: Plaza del Triunfo

Nearest Metro station is Puerta de Jerez.

Phone: 954 50 23 24

http://www.alcazarsevilla.org/

Hours: Apr-Sept: 9:30 am to 7 pm | Oct-Mar: 9:30 am to 5 pm


Essential Information you need to know before your visit:

Visitor capacity

The Palace has a maximum capacity of 750 visitors. When it is full, it is full! Waiting times can be extremely long during peak times. Avoid the queues, save time and book ahead your skip-the-line tickets.

Skip-the-Line Tickets:

Seville Alcazar Priority Entrance + Guided Tour

Guided Tour of Seville Alcazar, Cathedral & Giralda

Skip the Line Ticket to the Real Alcázar of Seville

More ticket options >>

TRAVEL ADVICE

Due to recent global health and safety issues, please adhere to travel guidelines in the country you are travelling to. While we at TTS work hard to be accurate, and provide the best information possible, we also encourage you to please always check before heading out, as some attractions may be closed due to local restrictions.

For the latest on Travel Guidelines, please go to the following Official portals:

Travel abroad from England Advise

Travel abroad from Scotland Advise

Travel abroad from Wales Advise

USA Travel Advisories

Travel between European Countries

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


What’s new

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Top 3 Leonardo’s Last Supper Tours in Milan

Leonardo’s Last Supper Tours in Milan

The best way to experience this event is by joining a group tour. By doing so, you are assured of an entry ticket to the refectory and the opportunity to learn about the history of the painting from a knowledgeable guide.

Image above provided by Get Your Guide and Information about the tour on Leonardo’s Last Supper Tours in Milan are provided by Get Your Guide and Viator, our trusted partners.

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Whilst we work hard to provide accurate and the best information possible, we also encourage you to please always check before heading out.


A little about the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and the Last Supper mural by Leonardo da Vinci

Santa Maria della Grazie - Milan bucketlist | Leonardo's Last Supper Tours in Milan
Santa Maria delle Gracie, Milan

The stunning mural is one of the finest in the world for it depicts unusual painting styles which Leonardo used. The painting contrasts between light and dark on the figures. The mural represents the scene of the Last Supper with Jesus Christ with his 12 Apostles, just after he reveals that he will be betrayed by one of them.

Showcasing a combination of both Renaissance and Gothic architectural style, the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is protected as UNESCO World Heritage Site as well.

Leonardo’s Last Supper Tours in Milan

Leonardo’s Last Supper tours in Milan are sold-out events. If you want to see this incredible centuries old preserved painting on the wall, you must book your place in advance of your visit. Book one of these three recommended Leonardo’s Last Supper tours in Milan for best experiences (links >>).

The ultimate aim of all three tours above is to ensure you get an up-close and personal experience of the world renowned timeless mural of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci Peruse the details and book your experience of Leonardo’s Last Supper tours in Milan with your preferred tour operator.

What to expect from the Leonardo’s Last Supper tours in Milan

Discover a masterpiece of the Milanese Renaissance when in Milan. Admire Da Vinci’s masterful “Last Supper” at the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan up close. Also known as the “Cenacolo Vinciano,” the mural is hidden away on a wall of the refectory at the Basilica.

On this guided tour, your guide will give a quick introduction to Renaissance art in Italy, describing how it became one of the most fertile periods of painting in the world. Learn why the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro, commissioned Leonardo, and how he presided over the most important period in the Milanese Renaissance.

Spend up to 15 minutes appreciating one of the most iconic images of Christ in the world.

Practical Information

Location: Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie, 20123 Milano MI, Italy

Opening hours:

From Tuesday to Saturday from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm.

On Sunday from 9.00 am to 1.45 pm

Max. 18 admitted every 15 minutes.

Closed Monday, New Year’s Day, May 1st and Christmas Day.


Also included below are other related tours which you may also like to consider. These tours are highly popular and offer best experiences of the City of Milan.


Other recommended tours when visiting Milan

Milan Cathedral and Last Supper tour | Leonardo's Last Supper Tours in Milan

Led by a guide, you will experience the best of Milan. Visit the iconic sights of the Duomo and Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper without waiting in queues. Have more time experiencing the City of Milan such as the Brera District and off the beaten paths.

Get Your Guide > Details

Viator > Details

Milan Cathedral and rooftop ticket | Leonardo's Last Supper Tours in Milan

This attraction ticket gives you access to all areas of the 600 year old Milan Duomo. Access to the terraces, cathedral, museum and archaeological area. Marvel at beautiful adornments and stained glass windows, and visit the Church of St. Gottardo in Corte. Enjoy favourable discounts at the Duomo Shop.

Get Your Guide > Details

Viator – Details

Recommended read: Milan Cathedral — How to make the best of your visit

milan in a day | Leonardo's Last Supper Tours in Milan

Discover the best of Milan with a guide in this Milan in a Day walking tour. Experience a journey through time – from the medieval square, Duomo, Last Supper (please see details) and the fashionable district of Via della Spiga and the elegant Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

Get Your Guide > Details

Viator > Details

Recommended read: Milan bucket list ideas

Milan hop on hop off bus tour

This is an ideal option if you wish to explore Milan at your own pace. With a ticket for the open-top hop-on hop-off bus, there are 4 routes at your disposal. Explore all of the city’s top attractions, from the magnificent Duomo and La Scala to the city’s many quaint neighbourhoods.

Get Your Guide > Details

Viator > Details

Recommended read: Getting around Milan like a local – A Complete Guide to Transportation in Milan


Planning a trip to Milan?

Leonardo’s Last Supper Tours in Milan

Below is my go to resources when I plan my travels and I am happy to share them here with you to save time and money. You may find the resources helpful to plan your travels as well.

Travel resources at a Glance

Planning your dream vacation? Excellent! Here are all the Resources and Practical information you need for your self-guided or guided vacation.

Legal entry/Tourist travel Visa

Check Visa requirements with iVisa, a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry.

Flights

I have a few choices. Search Google flights because they offer very competitive prices. You could also try Opodo for cheap airfares. For special experiences, go to On the Beach and Jet2Holidays. My all time favourite has been Qatar Airways for long-haul flights for the comfort and their first-class service. I use British Airways as well. For all other global deals >> kiwi.com

Accommodations

My favourite website for booking hotels is booking.com – I love their flexible cancellation policy which means I’m covered till the last minute. I also like that the totals show up for the whole stay so it helps me budget better. Other favourites of mine are Millennium & Copthorne Group of Hotels and Resorts for their consistent high quality accommodations and service. You could also take a look at the Radisson Hotels chain that caters for all budget. For accommodations in UK that has a personal touch and affordable luxury, stay at Hotel du Vin.

Unique experiences & tours

My all time go to resource for unique experiences and tours is Get your Guide. I am also a fan of Viator for their special deals. You shall find suggestions on recommended tours sprinkled throughout TTS on each experience I write about.

Travel insurance

Never travel without travel insurance and never overpay for travel insurance! I use and recommend World Nomads for your travel insurance needs. They even insure on the go. Before purchasing any any travel policy, read through the terms to ensure that the plan is right for you and your trip.

Travel essentials

Never travel without these! I use and fully endorse all the products on this page but especially: High powered wireless power bank, Universal travel adapter and unlimited portable pocket wifi.


Some of the links embedded in this article are affiliate links. This means, we at TTS earn a commission if you click on this link or links to experience an activity or activities. All bookings made comes at no additional cost to you at all and commission earned keeps this blog going. Our trusted partners are reputable organisations in the travel industry. I have personally used them and continue to do so, therefore I do not hesitate in recommending them. Also, know that I only recommend products, activities and experiences that adds value to my readers’ travel adventures for timeless memories. View our Disclaimer

Tickets & Tours

Leonardo’s Last Supper Guided Tour > from £39.60

1 | Get Your Guide – Details

2 | Viator – Details


Leonardo’s Last Supper Skip-the-Line Tour > from £37.07

3 | Get Your Guide – Details



Related articles to support your travels to Milan when experiencing Leonardo’s Last Supper tours

Italy - complete one-stop resource for travellers
City of Milan Travel Guide
People and Culture of Italy | Leonardo's Last Supper Tours in Milan
best day trips from Milan | Leonardo's Last Supper Tours in Milan
Milan Centrale Station

What’s new on Timeless Travel Steps


Leonardo’s Last Supper Tours in Milan first published at timelesstravelsteps.com

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Leonardo's Last Supper tours in MilanLeonardo's Last Supper tours in Milan

Leadenhall Market — London’s Best Kept Secret

Leadenhall Market – A Victorian Gem & One of London’s Best kept Secret

Explore another side of London — the city’s best kept secret! Tucked away from the busy streets and the high-rises of the financial district of London, with a rich heritage and incredible architecture dating back 700 years is Leadenhall Market, a Victorian gem easily missed and less visited by occasional visitors to the city. This remarkable building is also Grade II listed, denoting its significant historic interest.

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Whilst we work hard to provide accurate and the best information possible, we also encourage you to please always check before heading out.


What to expect in this article on Leadenhall Market

In this article, you shall find top reasons that makes Leadenhall Market a notable place to visit in London, beginning with its rich history to the incredible things to do such as shopping, dining and getting your shoes shined at this Victorian marketplace. Practical tips are included on how to locate this marvellous destination as well as landmarks to visit which are located close by. You could skip ahead to a particular section by using the navigation below, if you prefer.

Leadenhall Market London's best kept secret

1 | The origins and history of Leadenhall Market, London

The stunning Leadenhall Market has a rich history dating back to 1321, at the heart of what we now know to be Roman London. Underneath the arches and cobblestones of Leadenhall Market today are the remains of the Roman Forum and Basilica. As well, Bishopsgate, Cheapside and Leadenhall Street follow the Roman roads that once existed.

History tells us that the Romans loved their markets! It is thought that a market existed at this location since their settlement but not much is known about the market place after they left. Thereafter, the Anglo-Saxons returned and used the same location to set up a marketplace to boost the economy.

1.1 | Medieval history of Leadenhall Market

Eventually, the Leadenhall manor fell into the ownership of Lord Whittington, the Lord Mayor of the City of London. In 1411, he gifted the manor to the City of London.

1.2 | Leadenhall Market through the centuries

In 1440, Simon Eyre, the then Lord Mayor commissioned the skills of John Croxton, a master mason to redesign the manor house. The manor house was converted to two levels, and housed a large public granary along with lots of storage spaces. Trade was brought into the building, away from the streets nearby. The marketplace became the focal of medieval economy. By 1600s, trading involved cheese, milk, butter and eggs alongside poultry, meats, grains, leather and metal ware.

Following the Great Fire of London, Sir Horace Jones was commissioned to redesign the stone building. He designed and built Leadenhall Market in 1881 that continues to exist today. The nearby markets of Billingsgate and Smithfield were designed by Sir Jones also. The architecture embodies space, and light with wrought iron and glass. More recently, in 1991, Leadenhall Market underwent extensive renovations but the eye-catching Victorian architecture of brightly painted wrought iron beams of the main roof was preserved.


Recommended: 7 Key benefits of the London Pass that you need to know.


2 | Leadenhall Market today

This large covered area of what was once a marketplace has evolved to be a modern retail hub. Set amidst a Victorian roof, cobbles and preserved buildings and architecture, Leadenhall Market provides a wide range of shopping and a variety of dining options. Located in the centre of the financial district of London also means that it is a busy hub for the men and women in smart suits and the savvy financier.

The many entrances are decorated with stone carvings of dragons, swags and shields of varying sizes. The larger stone pediments reflect the main entrances to the market. Some have the market’s name and date inscribed upon them.

2.1 | Fashionable boutiques and Fine dining at Leadenhall Market, London

Housed within the Victorian architecture are upscale shops such as Barbour, Reiss, Hobbs, Waterstones and many more.

In addition, there is a selection of restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs offering unique dining experiences from fine dining, mid-range dining or to take-aways and sandwiches. There is Cheese of Leadenhall for cheese lovers and for wine lovers, the Brokers Wine Bar is an excellent choice.

The Lamb Tavern is highly recommended. It is a traditional pub, a restaurant and lately, popular as a wedding venue. Occupying three-floors of impressive decor, this grand old pub serves traditional British food and ales. The Lamb Tavern has been a public house since the Market buildings were completed in 1881.

Visiting this beautifully clean and vibrant Victorian setting ordinarily on a working day or at Christmas is highly encouraged. Truth be told that it is extraordinarily special at Christmas. It is lit-up bright with Christmas lights and a 20-foot high Christmas tree takes the centre-stage of this Victorian market setting. Shoppers with Christmas shopping bags, the vibrancy of modern dining, the bars and pubs overflowing with beer drinkers in smart attire amidst chatter and laughter. Added to this are the Christmas crafts, music and the aroma of mulled wine. It is hard to imagine the smell of meat and poultry that this Victorian market once was!

Christmas Lights 2021 switching-on ceremony is scheduled for November 19. December 8 signals the beginning of Christmas workshops, music and late-night shopping

2.2 | The Shoe-shiners of Leadenhall Market

When I visited Leadenhall Market a couple of years ago, I was fascinated to discover that it was home to talented actors who run the London City Shoe Shine Co. in between their engagements at West End.

These actors have been shining shoes in this Victorian setting since 1991, come rain or shine! Although, if the leather shoes are wet on a rainy day, you will probably not find the shoe-shiners sitting at their station.

The actors work in pairs and this beautiful advent afternoon was no different to any other. There was a steady flow of customers, mostly regulars, I suspect. As Leadenhall Market is situated in the centre of the banking industry and bankers were traditionally their most regular customers.

I saw a window of opportunity to steal a quick chat with them, with an assurance that they remain anonymous. It was an interesting chat, one of them have an upcoming role in a movie while the other is involved mainly in theatre performances. Soon, two customers arrived, and I stayed to watch briefly.

The shine-box method

I was captivated with the use of the old-fashioned shine-box method – where the customer raises one foot onto the footplate for it to be shined and then the other shoe gets done afterwards. These modest shoe shiners exuded a relaxed sense of style and their buoyant energy in a carefully crafted skill of vigorous hand-movement, first brush, then focusing on the toe for extra shine – a pair of shiny shoes will always set a man apart as a man that knows how to take care of himself – appearance matters! Definitely! Don’t you think so?

London Eye | London Pass | City Card
London Eye facts
London Eye | Harry Potter Studios

2.3 | Leadenhall Market is a popular filming location

For the ardent Harry Potter fans, you will be delighted to know that there were several scenes which were filmed at Leadenhall Market. One of the most memorable scene is when Hagrid and Harry Potter go shopping for wands. This scene was filmed outside of Leadenhall Market.

You may also recall the area of London which led to the wizarding pub, the magical shopping street of Diagon Alley (in the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) and the Leaky Couldron (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). The highly recognisable blue door entrance to the Leaky Couldron at 42 Bull’s Head Passage is actually an opticians office at Leadenhall Market.

Recommended: An interactive Harry Potter Guided Walking Tour

Leadenhall Market has also been used as a filming location in other movies for example:

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy;

The Imaginarium of Doctor Pernassus;

Hearafter;

Love Aaj Kal


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3 | The Story of Old Tom at Leadenhall Market

As we know, Leadenhall Market was once a place for the sale of poultry, and this required for chickens and geese to be slaughtered in the market. However, Old Tom, the little goose had a different tale to tell.

One day, in early 1800s, thousands of geese were brought to the Market to be slaughtered but one little gander from Belgium managed to escape. The story goes that he was not only clever to escape his fate on one occasion but he did so over several occasions on a number of days. Eventually, he was allowed to live happily and was named “Old Tom”. Old Tom became a beloved resident of Leadenhall Market. He was fed by the market workers with scraps of food and lived to the age of 37. Old Tom passed of natural causes in 1835 and was given a proper burial. He is buried inside the Market.

Old Tom was much loved and his Obituary appeared in the Times Newspaper, on April 16, 1835:

In memory of Old Tom the Gander

Obit 19th March, 1835, aetat, 37 years, 9 months and 6 days

This famous gander, while in stubble,

Fed freely, without care or trouble;

Grew fat eating corn and sitting still,

And scarce could cross the barn-door sill;

And seldom waddle forth to cool,

His belly in the neighbouring pool;

Transplanted to another scene,

He stalk’d in state o’er Calais-green,

With full five hundred geese behind;

To his superior care consign’d;

Whom readily he would engage,

To lead in march ten miles a-stage,

Thus a decoy he lived and died,

The chief of geese, the poulterer’s pride.

You could always raise a glass to Old Tom when you visit Leadenhall Market. His burial spot is marked by the Old Tom’s Bar at 10-12 Leadenhall Market.

Old Tom’s Bar serves traditional British dishes and craft beers.


Recommended: Secrets of London Walking Tour


4 | Best London attractions nearby to Leadenhall Market

While visiting Leadenhall Market, you may also wish to make a day of it by visiting other attractions in the financial district and nearby. The following attractions are located within a few minutes of each other and easily reached by foot. Click on the links to learn more.


5 | Practical tips and Useful information

If you plan to visit this part of London, you will note two entirely differing cultures depending on when you elect to sightsee. During the week, The City is abuzz with white collar workers hurrying along to get on with their business and at weekends, it becomes a quiet haven for visitors to explore.

5.1 | Where is Leadenhall Market located?

This prominent destination is located at the triangle that is made up of Gracechurch Street, Fenchurch Street and Leadenhall Street.

Address:  Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 1LT

5.2 | Opening hours

Public areas are open 24/7 for 7-days a week.

For shops and restaurants, opening hours varies, please check individual      stores.

5.3 | Transport:

Trains 

London Fenchurch Street Station    (8-minute walk)

London Cannon Street Station         (8-minute walk)

Liverpool Street Station      (13-minute walk)

Moorgate Station     (13-minute walk)

Underground

Monument Station    (4-minute walk)

Bank Station     (6-minute walk)

Aldgate Station   (8-minute walk)

Moorgate Station  (13-minute walk)


6 | Planning a trip to London?

You may find the following resources helpful. I use them in my travel plan and happily share them with you to save time and money.

Travel resources at a Glance

Planning your dream vacation? Excellent! Here are all the Resources and Practical information you need for your self-guided or guided vacation.

Legal entry/Tourist travel Visa

Check Visa requirements with iVisa, a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry.

Flights

I have a few choices. Search Google flights because they offer very competitive prices. You could also try Opodo for cheap airfares. For special experiences, go to On the Beach and Jet2Holidays. My all time favourite has been Qatar Airways for long-haul flights for the comfort and their first-class service. I use British Airways as well. For all other global deals >> kiwi.com

Accommodations

My favourite website for booking hotels is booking.com – I love their flexible cancellation policy which means I’m covered till the last minute. I also like that the totals show up for the whole stay so it helps me budget better. Other favourites of mine are Millennium & Copthorne Group of Hotels and Resorts for their consistent high quality accommodations and service. You could also take a look at the Radisson Hotels chain that caters for all budget. For accommodations in UK that has a personal touch and affordable luxury, stay at Hotel du Vin.

Unique experiences & tours

My all time go to resource for unique experiences and tours is Get your Guide. I am also a fan of Viator for their special deals. You shall find suggestions on recommended tours sprinkled throughout TTS on each experience I write about.

Travel insurance

Never travel without travel insurance and never overpay for travel insurance! I use and recommend World Nomads for your travel insurance needs. They even insure on the go. Before purchasing any any travel policy, read through the terms to ensure that the plan is right for you and your trip.

Travel essentials

Never travel without these! I use and fully endorse all the products on this page but especially: High powered wireless power bank, Universal travel adapter and unlimited portable pocket wifi.


7 | Finally

Leadenhall Market is a little gem, covered and tucked away in the middle of bustling London financial district. It always seems busy during the week but you can get a quiet place in a pub or a restaurant after the busy lunch hour 😊

Have a great time discovering, and exploring Leadenhall Market, London’s best kept secret!

Georgina xx


FAQ’s on Leadenhall Market

Here are some frequently asked questions about Leadenhall Market which you may have thought about as well:

1 | Is Leadenhall Market worth visiting?

Absolutely! Without a doubt, Leadenhall Market is worth visiting. It’s historic significance, unique architecture, the many food scenes, the vibrant, bright and airy atmosphere along with the cobbled floors all add to the feel of being “elsewhere” in London. A destination that must be experienced.

2 | What is special about Leadenhall Market?

While its rich heritage and stunning architecture dates back 700 years, it is a ‘marketplace’ with all the clinks and clanks, the noise of chatter and the buzz. Added to this unusual atmosphere in the City of London are modern high-end shops, bars and eateries. Absolutely a special place to visit.

3 | Who designed Leadenhall Market?

The architect behind the design of Leadenhall Market that we see today was Horace Jones.

4 | What borough is Leadenhall Market?

Leadenhall Market is located in the prominent City of London financial district. It is one of the oldest markets in London since early 1400s.


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Leadenhall Market - London's best kept secretLeadenhall Market - London's best kept secret

5 BEST Christmas Markets in London 2021

BEST 5 Christmas Markets in London 2021

The best Christmas Markets in London are a total treat and it has so much to offer. Not just mulled wine, mince pies, German sausages and fairground rides but also unique gift stalls of beautifully handcrafted gifts. There are several Christmas Markets in London but below, you will find five of the best Christmas markets in London.

The BEST 5 Christmas Markets in London 2021

1 | Best Christmas Markets in London at London’s Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, London. November 19, 2021- January 3, 2022 [Opens 10.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. daily except Christmas Day]

Winter Wonderland is the biggest and one of the best Christmas Markets in London. Popularly described as the biggest fun fair in London at Christmas, Winter Wonderland draws thousands of visitors, both near and far. Host to the largest outdoor ice rink, festive food stalls and the many different rides, roller coasters and ferris wheel. There is an IceBar that serves unique festive cocktails,. The one attraction which is highly recommended is Santa Land, an enchanting experience for both young and old. Walk around the stalls for some beautiful handcrafted gifts.

Entry to the park is FREE. Attractions and activities will incur a fee. Prior booking is recommended for some attractions.

Getting here: Nearest station is Marble Arch, Bond Street, Hyde Park Corner, Green Park.

For more information on Winter Wonderland, check their official website here.


Recommended read:

Christmas in London
Best Christmas Lights in London
Coal Drops Yard at Christmas in Kings Cross London

2 | Best Christmas Markets in London at Leicester Square Christmas Market

Leicester Square Christmas Market, London: November 12, 2021 to January 3, 2022 [Opens: 12.00 p.m – 10.00 p.m Mon – Fri 10.00 a.m – 10.00 p.m Sat-Sun

Located in the most vibrant part of the city, Leicester Square Christmas Market is in the heart of London, in theatre land and just a stone’s throw from China Town. It is small compared to Winter Wonderland but the festive vibes are very present. You will find plenty of food stalls, handcrafted bespoke gifts stalls, festive ornaments and variety shows. There is more of a traditional feel than any of the other Christmas Markets in London. The stalls are authentic Bavarian-style wooden huts and this, adds to the warmth of the Christmas cheer.

Entrance is FREE. Santa’s Grotto is £11.50 and the Cabaret Shows are ticketed.

Getting here: Nearest stations are Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus.

For more information on Leicester Square Christmas Market, check their official website here.


3 | Best Christmas Markets in London at Covent Garden

Covent Garden Christmas Markets, London. November 9, 2021 to January 3, 2022.

Londoners often say that Covent Garden is the place to find the best gifts for someone and the ultimate meeting point for friends. Thus, Covent Garden is one of the most popular shopping destinations in London at anytime of the year. It is unique because it is one place where you will find highend fashion names alongside market traders, all offering a very special shopping experience. There are over 200 stores and each offer their own speciality along with a wide range of distinctive handmade crafts and goods. From jewellery and prints to watercolours, soaps and sweet treats – all presenting a perfect opportunity to shop under one roof for that special gift at Christmas for your friends and family.

Christmas is especially beautiful here when the Apple Market is decorated (don’t forget to look up). The Market pulls out all stops when the Christmas decorations go up making Covent Garden a magical haven and an instagrammable hotspot!

Another main attraction at Covent Garden is the massive 60ft British grown Christmas tree illuminated with 30,000 little sparkles with a perfect huge red bow. The lights will be shining in the famed central piazza as from November 9, 2021

Free event.

Getting here: Nearest station – Covent Garden

For more information on Covent Garden, check their official website here


4 | Best Christmas Markets in London by the River at London Bridge City

Tower Bridge London

Dates: TBC

For more information, check their official website, londonbridgecity.co.uk here


5 | Christmas Markets at London Greenwich Market

Christmas late markets – every Wednesday in December before Christmas

Greenwich Market is a World Heritage Site and is a great destination all year round. It is especially magical with Christmas lights and mulled wine. There are 120 stalls offering a range of handmade gifts, food and drink.

Getting here: Nearest station – Cutty Sark

For more information on activities at Greenwich Market, check their official website

Recommended: How to spend one day in Greenwich and enjoy 45 experiences


4 practical considerations to think about …

1 | Pre-book activities

Book things to do in London at Christmas so you don’t miss out on the magical experiences. When you join a tour group, you will be guided to experience the best highlights as well as some of the hidden gems accompanied by the many tales of Christmas. A tour at Christmas covers more than one experience and is usually great value for money. Here is a list of all the magical experiences to get into which I highly recommend:


2 | Book your stay in the heart of London for best experiences during Christmas

London may be an expensive metropolis to visit but if planned well and ahead of time, you are certain to find some great accommodations for a good price, even during the festive season. Take a look at the following best deals in the City of London:

Booking.com

Alternatively, peruse more choices of accommodations in London.


3 | Buy a London City Pass

Recommended read: 7 Key benefits of the London Pass


4 | Train travel

If you are planning on travelling to London by train or if you are visiting London and wish to see some of the English countryside by train, consider using Trainline for purchasing your tickets. Trainline offers the widest choices on train tickets in the UK and you are sure to find one within budget for your journey.


Finally …

What do you think? Is this post helpful to plan your visit to our pick of the best Christmas markets in London during this festive season? Do let us know in comments.

Have an awesome time this Christmas in London.

Georgina xoxo

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The BEST 5 Christmas Markets in London 2021The BEST 5 Christmas Markets in London 2021

Top 9 Super Spooky and Haunted Places on the Isle of Wight

Top 9 super spooky and haunted places on the Isle of Wight

haunted places on Isle of Wight

‘Ghost Island’ – Haunted places on the Isle of Wight

Some say the legends hold true to witness accounts of eerie feelings and sightings, and that the spirits will continue to haunt the places for years to come. Some others regard them, simply as stories.

The creepy-aura on the island piqued in the 1970s and earned itself a reputation as ‘Ghost Island’, attracting ghost-hunters and spooky enthusiasts alike ever since. There has been several books written on the witness’ accounts spurring on more interests in all things that goes “bump” in the night!

Whether one believes in the experiences or not is entirely up to the individual. In this article, I share the places where weird sightings, noises and feelings have been reportedly experienced.

Here are the top 9 most spine-tingling haunted places on the Isle of Wight and its stories:

Top 9 Haunted places on the Isle of Wight

1 | The Ghosts of Ventnor Botanic Gardens

Ventnor Botanic Gardens is a tourist hotspot on the Island. It is renowned for its scenic location and the incredible range of flora and fauna along with rare plants from around the globe that grows spectacularly here. The Ventnor Botanic Gardens is also home to a wide range of butterflies and insects not found any where else in UK.

It is hard to believe that this beautiful place could be haunted but it has been said that it is indeed one of the most haunted places on the Isle of Wight.

Before it became famed as Ventnor Botanic Gardens, it was the location of the Old Royal National Hospital. Patients here were treated for the deadly tuberculosis disease. Over the very many years, thousands of patients, sadly died and their souls are said to haunt the site. There has been several reported sightings since the demolition of the hospital building (where the car park for Ventnor Botanic Gardens is now located) in 1969.

Sightings of sickly-looking ghosts, and phantom nurses in old-fashioned uniforms walking between the flower beds has been reported. Ghostly weepings and groanings have also been heard. There are several remnants of the old building still remaining, including an old disuse tunnel leading out to the cliffs from the end of the gardens. The tunnel was once used for disposing of medical waste. A strong scent of ether has been reported at the garden end by some.

The Ventnor Botanic Gardens usually run a Halloween Ghost Walk special event with access to areas not usually open to the general public.

Where: Ventnor Botanic Garden, Undercliff Drive, Ventnor, Isle of Wight PO38 1UL


Recommended read: Anne Boleyn – Britain’s Most Well Travelled Ghost


2 | The Ghosts at St Catherine’s Lighthouse

Built in 1838 and located near the village of Niton, on the most southerly point of the island, the Lighthouse at St Catherine’s Point is a spectacular place on the Isle of Wight. It’s location is a photographer’s paradise for photos of storms working their way across the English Channel and for perfect views of the stars and milkyway at night.

This tranquil location has been home to many spooky tales which makes St Catherine’s Lighthouse to be one of the most haunted places on the Isle of Wight. From ghost animal sightings, unexplained footsteps and noises to slamming doors and missing items but the most striking story of St Catherine’s Lighthouse goes way back to Second World War.

In an enemy raid during the War, three lighthouse keepers were killed by a bomb. The three keepers were buried in the churchyard at Niton. A memorial plaque dedicated to them is placed inside the lighthouse.

The lighthouse has been fully automated since 1997 but it has been said that there is a ghost that still walks the tower with sightings of a figure in the lamp room and beams of light cutting through fog.

Stay at St Catherine’s Lighthouse

Ghostly sightings aside, St Catherine’s Lighthouse is a popular destination for overnight and weekend or short stays on the island for couples and families.

How about a timeless stay at St Catherine’s Lighthouse? Rural Retreats offer three individual accommodations to suit your needs. Select from the following:

Location: St Catherine’s Lighthouse, Niton, Ventnor PO38 2NF


3 | Appuldurcombe House and it’s ghosts hauntings