Top Five Cathedrals in Spain

Toledo cathedral detail

Toledo cathedral ©weldonwk/Flickr

History-rich Spain is a prime destination when it comes to sacred places and religious manifestations. Traditions are well preserved in Spain, where one can walk the most famous pilgrimage route in Europe (Camino de Santiago) or attend century old ceremonies such as Semana Santa in Sevilla. Also, Spain has managed to preserve many of its medieval cathedrals, some of which represent true works of art. Other such constructions, as the case with Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, are just few decades old, yet they managed to become internationally recognized landmarks. From old to new, here are the top five cathedrals in Spain:

Toledo Cathedral

Toledo is among Spain’s most beautiful historic cities in Spain, and the old Cathedral is certainly among its assets. Built in a Gothic style, the Catedral de Toledo is of impressive proportions: its north tower is 100 meters tall (spear included). A mix of Gothic and Baroque elements inside create the impression of overwhelming beauty. There are many things to admire here, from the stained glass windows, to the skillful wood work of the choir chairs, and the monumental altar piece.

Toledo cathedral detail

Toledo cathedral ©weldonwk/Flickr

Mezquita – Cathedral of Cordoba

Seen from above, the Mezquita in Cordoba is has perfect rectangular shape. The reason why this cathedral is unlike any other is Spain or in Europe is that it actually a mosque, one of the most beautiful that were ever built. Mezquita is not as tall as it is wide: a total of 856 marble columns sustain its ceiling. The most outstanding characteristic of the cathedral is the double-arch feature, together with the white-red alternation of jasper and marble squares.

Leon Cathedral

The Cathedral of Leon is among the best Gothic churches in the country. However, its architecture is more similar to that of the great French Gothic churches, with the two elegant towers guarding the entrance and elaborate stained glass windows inside (these are some of the oldest and finest in Spain).

cathedral window

Leon cathedral stained glass ©neil cummings/Flickr

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella

This cathedral is best known for being the terminus point of a 2000 mile long pilgrimage – Camino de Santiago. Built initially in Romanesque style, the cathedral is almost 1 millennium old. Inside and outside various other styles can be observed, from the more obvious Baroque (the facade was built and decorated in this style) to the Late-Gothic cloisters. The cathedral hosts the remains of St. James.

Cathedral of Sevilla

Built at a time when Seville was a flourishing economic and cultural center of medieval Europe, the Cathedral of Seville was designed to impress. As a consequence, this is the biggest Gothic cathedral in the world. What makes it unique is not only the dimension, but also its incorporation of Moorish-style elements, such as the famous minaret known as Giralda.

Cathedral entrance

Seville cathedral ©pjohnkeane/Flickr

P.S. Because Sagrada Familia, although famous, has the official status of ‘basilica’, I decided not to include it in my list of the top five cathedrals in Spain.


Leave a Reply