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Seville’s Massive Gothic Cathedral — Go Here

Luis Davilla, Getty Images

For well-traveled souls who’ve seen one too many European cathedrals in their lifetime, it can be easy to dismiss them as old news. The massive Catedral de Santa María de la Sede in Seville, Spain isn’t just another old church, though. It happens to be the largest Gothic cathedral on the planet, and the third largest church in the world. If you’re a fan of impressive architecture, this one is hard to beat.

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If you’re still not impressed, you might like to know that the remains of the tragic Genovese explorer Christopher Columbus (maybe you’ve heard of him) are enshrined here, as well. Poor Chris didn’t get a lot of rest after his death; his carcass was shuttled around the Caribbean for quite some time before eventually making its way back to Spain—not on its own, mind you. This isn’t a zombie tale.

Controversy abounded as to the veracity of the claim that his bones were actually kept within Seville’s Cathedral, but after some clever DNA sleuth work proved that the bones enshrined in the cathedral were most likely his, it seems the ‘Admiral of the Open Sea’ found a place to repose at last, long after his last sea voyage had ended.

JMN, Getty Images

Second only in size to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, in Brazil, the Seville Cathedral is a striking work of human architecture and engineering. It was built on the site of the Grand Almohad Mosque, in order to show off the wealth of Seville during the pinnacle of this city’s power.

Within the church you’ll find the largest central nave in Spain, Columbus’s tomb, tons of gold décor, amazing stained-glass windows and an impressive Gothic altarpiece. Outside the cathedral, you can gaze up in wonder at the Moorish minaret, which was preserved and turned into the soaring La Giralda bell tower, or wander through the oasis of the “Patio de los Naranjos” (orange tree courtyard), another holdover from Moorish times.

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(Note: This is not a photo of the KKK; they are jerks. We explain below.)

Apart from the Cathedral, Seville itself is a great city to wander around, especially at night. The streets are full of happy (drunk) people, tapas and wine bars, and a nightlife that doesn’t seem to quit. If you plan your visit during the Easter Season (Semana Santa), you’ll get to experience the city in all of its traditional glory. Just don’t get put off by the thousands of hooded figures roaming through the streets. At first glance, they might look like American Clan members, but their hoods and gowns have nothing to do with the American South. These hooded getups signify religious austerity, not racial prejudices.

During Eastertime—or any time, for that matter—this city knows how to party. You’ll get to experience the best of both worlds, which means a mixture of Old World culture, along with some wild nights out on the town.

Next Awesome Place: Black Death Burial Ground

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