Facebook Instagram Youtube Youtube Twitter Official Website of the Cathedral of Seville Only Official Site


Renaissance additions: Royal Chapel, Chapter House and Main Sacristy.

Royal Chapel

The space of the Royal Chapel occupies the head of the temple, replacing the old Gothic apse that was demolished to build this new enclosure. It forms a large square enclosure closed by a semicircular apse and covered by a solemn dome.

On its sides there are two small chapels with their corresponding sacristies; over these chapels there are two tribunes on the exterior. Two stained glass windows made in 1574 by Vicente Menardo, which have undergone numerous subsequent restorations, contribute to the illumination of the enclosure. The work on this chapel was designed and directed by the architect Martín de Gainza starting in 1551.

In 1556, at the death of this architect, the work was complete except for the dome, which was to be completed around 1568 by the architect Hernán Ruiz II; the exterior of this dome is compartmentalized with coffers in which the heads of kings were included.

The lantern of the dome collapsed in 1754 and was rebuilt by Sebastian van der Borch. On the exterior of the apse of the chapel, the sculptural decoration is of plateresque style and was made by artists to whom belong the figures of kings that appear in the arch of the entrance to the chapel, the angels that decorate the apse’s veneration and the frieze that surrounds the chapel. On the sides there are niches containing sculptures made between 1571 and 1574.

The tombs located in the niches opened in the lateral walls keep the remains of Alfonso X the Wise and his mother Beatriz de Suavia. The frames of these tombs are also Plateresque in style and were made around 1570, the sculptures of the monarchs being more modern works.

The chapel is presided over by an altarpiece made around 1646 by Luis Ortiz de Vargas, where, in the main niche and under a silver canopy, the image of the Virgin of the Kings is worshipped, this being a Gothic figure from the 13th century of French origin.

On both sides of this altar, there are stairs that communicate with the crypt, which serves as the Royal Pantheon and where the remains of different members of the Spanish royal family rest, such as those of Pedro I of Castile and his wife, María de Padilla. In the left interior of the chapel, there is a small altarpiece from where you can access the room together, where there are several showcases that keep valuable objects related to San Fernando and his wife, including pieces of gold and silverware of great value that complete this treasure.

On the walls hang several paintings from the end of the 17th century. In the tribune above this chapel there is a neoclassical organ built by Antonio Otin Calvete in 1807. To the right is an enclosure that houses a choir stalls and a lectern, works of the eighteenth century and were donated by Charles IV; also contained in this enclosure, an altarpiece to San Antonio of 1638 and a good set of paintings that after the modernization works for the new access to the chapel, are in the sacristy of the chapel dating between the late seventeenth century and first quarter of the eighteenth century.

Inside, the entrance to the chapel is closed with a magnificent grille designed by Sebastián van der Borh, which was paid for by King Charles III and installed in 1771. At the top of the grille, there is a sculpture of Saint Ferdinand receiving the keys of Seville on horseback, the work of Jerónimo Roldán.

Chapter Hall

From the antecabildo you enter through a curved corridor to one of the most admirable enclosures of Spanish architecture of the Renaissance, the Chapter Hall of the Cathedral, whose construction lasted from the middle of the 16th century until its completion, with the intervention of the architect Hernán Ruiz II and its completion by Asensio de Maeda.

The space of this enclosure was conceived in an elliptical plan, which offers perfect visibility of all the members of the cathedral chapter meetings, where the problems of the spiritual and material governance of the temple were expressed and discussed. Also, the oval disposition and its unitary vaulting facilitate the perfect expansion of the voice, making its acoustics exceptional.

The Chapter Hall not only addresses the need for visibility and audibility posed by the large gathering of ecclesiastics but also alludes, through the decoration of its walls, to a complex iconographic program designed to exalt the virtues that those who met there had to possess. This was to ensure that their exchanges of ideas and opinions were conducted in harmony and concord. Thus, the walls develop a moral code that the canons had to follow in their chapter assemblies.

This program was designed by Canon Francisco Pacheco and includes a repertoire of sculptures and paintings accompanied by Latin inscriptions that allude to the content of the images. All this decoration appears in the second body of the room, being noticed in the first place between the pedestals of the columns pictorial representations of the Virtues that are captured through female figures, some of which also represent Saints and perfectly visible from any angle of the room. These paintings were made by Pablo de Céspedes in 1592. The large vertical reliefs between the columns were made by Juan Bautista Vázquez el Viejo and Diego de Velasco around 1582.

The rectangular reliefs were made around 1590 by Marcos Cabrera. The vault contains a magnificent series of works by Murillo commissioned by the Cabildo to the painter in 1667. Painted on canvases of circular format appears a group of eight perfectly identifiable Sevillian saints and in a magnificent carved frame appears, presiding over the whole group from the top, the Immaculate Conception, a work that can be considered among the most beautiful that the artist made with this theme.

A splendid mahogany armchair, carved in 1592 by the sculptor Diego de Velasco, presides over the entire room at its base, and is preceded by the secretary’s seat, a work of the same artist and also executed with an excellent design.

Main Sacristy

The interior of the Main Sacristy is a solemn space conceived in a central plan that forms a Greek cross with very reduced arms. Its space is covered with a dome resting on pendentives.

The elevation is made with pillars to which are attached half columns and pilasters, richly carved in plateresque style. The capitals are adorned with fine decorations of grotesques and garlands. The arms of the cross are covered with fanned vaults supported by chamfers decorated with scallops.

The dome is decorated with reliefs arranged in three rings, representing the Last Judgment and a staging of the Heavenly Court; in the lower ring, the Damned. On the vaults there are representations of apostles and bishops. In the wall of the Sacristy, the bases of the three altars that were in each of the chapels, disassembled in the 19th century, are preserved. These bases contain small sculptural pieces and some reliquaries.

In front of the central chapel is located the great painting of Pedro de Campaña, the Descent of Christ. On the walls of the enclosure there is a wide pictorial collection of which we highlight San Isidoro and San Leandro de Murillo made in 1655, emphasizing the solemnity of the saints that appear respectively represented in attitudes in which they stood out. It should be noted that many other paintings of excellent quality are hung on these walls, some of which are specifically mentioned in the paintings section of this web page.

We continue pointing out the variety of sculptures that are exposed in this Sacristy, being of the most important the San Fernando that appears next to one of the pillars of the head and that was commissioned by the Cabildo on the occasion of the canonization of this King. On the opposite pillar is the Immaculate Conception.

The gold work exhibited in this space is of great importance, particularly the large Custody of Arfe, a magnificent representative piece of Sevillian Plateresque art. This piece, along with other similar works from the same construction period, has historically contributed to the progressive transformation of the cathedral building into a collection of exhibition spaces. This function has been maintained for almost two hundred years.