Top 10 Cathedrals in Spain

by Deborah Cater
Seville Cathedral
del canto chambers 2

Everyone who knows Spanish churches knows of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. However, there are many other incredible cathedrals in Spain. We bring you our Top 10 Cathedrals in Spain.

Simon Jenkins of The Guardian, recently named his top cathedrals in Europe. Spain’s contribution to the list was the magnificent Sagrada Familia. Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece is indeed worthy of a visit and mention on a ‘best of list’. However, Spain is not limited to one impressive cathedral.

Read on for our top 10 cathedrals in Spain, which deliberately excludes the Barcelona’s beauty.

Cathedral of Córdoba

Detail from inside Cordoba Cathedral

The Great Mosque of Cordoba is central to this wonderful. A cathedral within a mosque, it is atmospheric both inside and out. From the Plaza de Naranjas to the striped arches, this unique building is a must if you’re in Andalucia.  

Salamanca Cathedral

Salamanca cathedral - one of the top 10 cathedrals in Spain

Another building within a building, is Salamanca’s “new” cathedral. It dates back to 1513 and the old cathedral sits within its walls. A rather strange phenomenon occurred during a 1990s restoration – a sculpture of  an astronaut and an ice cream cone appeared in the outer walls.

Seville Cathedral

Seville Cathedral

The Giralda bell tower of the Seville Cathedral was once the minaret of a mosque. The cathedral was built on the site of the mosque, and is one of the world’s largest religious buildings. Climbing the tower requires good knees and lungs – the views of the city will take away any breath remaining.

Toledo Cathedral

Toledo cathedral inside

The cathedral has a mix of architectural styles. The temple was actually built on top of a Muslim mosque, and before that it had been a church in the sixth century during the reign of the Visigoth King Recaredo. King San Fernando and the archbishop began building the new church in 1226.

Cumbre Villas

Burgos Cathedral

Burgos Cathedral

The final resting place of the legendary El Cid, Burgos Cathedral boasts no less than 38 altarpieces. Due to the fact the Cathedral took so long to build, almost every form of Gothic style is evident – from Early Gothic to Flamboyant Gothic.

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

Santiago Cathedral

The final destination for pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago is the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The  stunning cathedral houses the tomb of Saint James (Santiago) and at certain masses the enormous ‘botafumeiro’ incense burner swings up and down the main aisle.

Palma de Mallorca Cathedral

Palma de Mallorca cathedral

Mallorca’s La Seu Cathedral sits by the water’s edge and like many of Spain’s cathedrals has Moorish origins. La Seu is not only one of the largest Gothic churches in Spain, the eastern main rosette is one of the largest (if not the largest) in the world with a diameter of almost eleven meters.

Léon Cathedral

Leon Cathedral - one of the top cathedrals in Spain

When it comes to stained glass windows, Léon Cathedral takes the crown. Considered the best in the world, the 130 church windows and three rose windows are the jewels of the temple. As the light hits them, they fill the inside with colourful brightness.

Zaragoza Cathedral – Our Lady Pilar

Zaragoza cathedral-basilica

Zaragoza has not one but two cathedrals. It is the Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of Pilar, that gets out vote. Seen from the opposite river bank at night, is to see her lit up in her glory. Inside, is the ‘Regina Martyrum’ dome painted by Francisco de Goya (1781) using fresco technique with bright and colorful figures.

Segovia Cathedral

Segovia cathedral

The aqueduct is normally the site people mention in Segovia. However, dominating the old Plaza Mayor is the Baroque cathedral. Built after the fire of the former Romanesque cathedral in 1520, it looks over the town and has one of the highest towers in Spain.

You may also like