Most famous cathedrals in Spain - Guides Most famous cathedrals in Spain - Guides

Top Cathedrals in Spain

 The cathedrals in Spain are part of the most important tourist attractions in the country. Some of them are totally out of the most visited parts of the country and, as a matter of fact, the 2 largest cities in the country, Madrid and Barcelona, do not hold the most impressive cathedrals in the country….  All 88 cathedrals but one (the Cathedral in Lleida which was transformed into a museum) provide religious service today.

In this post we will cover an important part of Spain´s history. Spain´s history is totally connected to the re-conquering process that took place during centuries. The country, once almost occupied by the Moors who developed Al-Andalus, gradually became Christian. Churches, abbeys, and monasteries were built along with castles. Cathedrals were also part of this process, though the significant development took place once the reconquering process endeded.

Some of the most spectacular Cathedrals in Spain were transformed from Mosques. This is the case of the Cathedral in Palma de Mallorca, or Seville. An amazing exception if the Mosque of Cordoba, which serves both as a cathedral and a mosque.

Burgos Cathedral

Burgos Cathedral

Check out our full guide to the world famous Burgos Cathedral, one of the most spectacular gothic-style cathedrals in Spain, and perhaps the world. … Read More

Salamanca Cathedral

Salamanca Cathedrals

Check out our guide to the Salamanca Cathedrals. It is one of the most emblematic buildings in the city and it is actually two buildings in one. … Read More

Cadiz cathedral

Cadiz Cathedral

Check out or full guide to the Cadiz Cathedral, a fantastic baroque and neoclassical building with amazing views from its tower, and a must visit.
Read More


Cathedral of Segovia

Segovia is without a doubt one of Spain’s most beautiful cities. One of it’s many attractions is the Cathedral, the latest of the Gothic cathedrals in Spain. … Read More

Inside Granada cathedral

Granada cathedral and the royal chapel

Overshadowed by the Alhambra, the Cathedral of Granada is one of Spain´s most remarkable cathedrals. Its main interest is the Royal Chapel, the place where the Catholic Kings, Ferdinand and Isabella, are buried. … Read More

El Pilar de Zaragoza – Cathedral

El Pilar de Zaragoza – Cathedral

The Cathedral of Nuestra Señora del Pilar is located in the city of Zaragoza (halfway from Barcelona and Madrid) one of Spain´s best well-known cathedrals. Its shape features numerous domes and four very high towers in its corners. The domes are covered with polychrome ceramic tiles. The larges dome is located at the very center of the cathedral.  The Cathedral of El Pilar is the icon of Zaragoza and it is located in the square with the same name, very close to the Ebro river. In this guide, we will share with you all the information you need to take into account to make the most of your visit to The Cathedral of El Pilar in Zaragoza.

How much time do you need to visit the El Pilar Cathedral?

We estimate you will need to 2 hours to visit the Cathedral. This will give you enough time to admire the cathedral from outside the large square of El Pilar and also from inside. 


El Pilar cathedral. History

Legend says that the cathedral was built in the spot where the Virgin Mary met Apostle James (Santiago) in 40 AD. This was not a vision, but a meeting. The Apostle was in Zaragoza and the Virgin visited him from Efesso. This story connects the Cathedral of El Pilar with Saint James and the Camino de Santiago or Saint James Way.

A simple chapel was built to commemorate this meeting with a marble column located there where the vision seemed to happen. It is this column (Pilar in Spanish) that gives the name to the cathedral.

A Romanesque church was built later but as is the case on many occasions it suffered from a fire. From this church, few elements are still today in place in the cathedral, the most important one being the tympanum in the cathedral façade.

The construction of the cathedral with its present form was initiated in 1515 at the instance of Archbishop Hernando de Aragon. The initial project and idea was to build a single-aisled gothic church.

This initial effort continued in baroque style in 1677. The architect at that time was Francisco de Herrera, the son of the famous architect responsible for the construction of El Escorial Monastery near Madrid. Large parts of the cathedral were later built in classical style by Ventura Rodriguez in 1753.


Highlights – El pilar Cathedral

Today the cathedral has a nave and two aisles and a rectangular ground plan. At the corners of the cathedral stand the four towers (98 meters high)

There are numerous side chapels between the buttresses. One of the most outstanding things about the cathedral of El Pilar is the immense value of its paintings. Saint Chapel are scenes of the apparition of the virgin and they were painted by Antonio Gonzalez Velazquez.

Francisco Bayeu was commissioned with the decoration of the four vaults in the chapel, while the decoration of the main dome was painted in the 19th century by Bernadino Montañes.


One of the most important parts of the Cathedral of El Pilar and which draws lots of attention is the choir. The decoration of the choir was entrusted to Goya in 1772. He designed superb allegorical frescos. The choir ends in a beautiful grille made by Juam Celma in 1574. The choir stalls consist of 150 seats arranged in 3 rows.

Chapel of La Virgen del Pilar

The entrance to the Cathedral is from the Plaza del Pilar. The first thing you will find is Saint Chapel. This chapel was redecorated in Baroque style by Ventura Rodriguez, one of Spain´s most famous artists of that time. As you may expect from Baroque decoration, the chapel is richly adorned with marble and silver. In the centre of the chapel, allegedly, on the spot where Saint James met the virgin Mary, stands the Gothic alabaster statue of the Virgen del Pilar. The statue dates from the 14th century and it seems the author was a French Master.

One interesting thing about the Virgin is that she is dressed with up to 450 different mantos or coats!. The manto of The Virgin of El Pilar is changed everyday.

The statue of La Virgen del Pilar

The statue of the Virgin (known by locals as “La Pilarica”) is a small 38-centimeter wood-carved statue. She holds Christ on her arms. Christ holds a bird. The statue stands on a silver-clad marble column and, as we said already, is dressed everyday with a different coat. The statue is framed by the right altar. The column, from what it has been described, is today 5 centimeters smaller than it used to be. Why you may ask? Due to the erosion caused by the kisses of the devotees.

Above the central altar is a relief from the 18th century by Carlos Salas which shows the assumption of the Virgin. The left altar by Ramirez depicts Saint James and his disciples.

High Altar

Another of the cathedral´s highlights stands on the western part. It is the alabaster high altar (1509) in which both gothic and renaissance elements are combined. This is with no doubt one of the top things to enjoy at El Pilar.

Amongst the most interesting chapels worth paying attention to are: The chapel of san Lorenzo, the chapel of La Virgen del Rosario, and the chapel of San Juan Bautista.

The Civil War Bombs

A very important anecdote in El Pilar has to do with the bombs that fell on the Cathedral at the time of the Spanish civil war but which did not explode. They are shown next to the Chapel of the Virgin.


Top Things to Enjoy in Spain

Façade at Prado museum in Madrid

Art Museums in Madrid

Madrid and its “Paseo del Arte” (The local name given to the distance between the top 3 art galleries in Madrid (The Prado Museum, the Thyssen Bornemiza, and the Reina Sofía Museum) set Madrid amongst the top art destinations in the world. Enjoying art is one of the top things to do in Madrid.

Besides these 3 top museums, there are other smaller art galleries which would stand out in most cities in the world: The Real Academis de San Fernando, the Lazaro Galdiano museum he Casa Sorolla museum and the Cerralbo Museum. … Read More


Spanish Diet

When people commonly refer to the Spanish diet, the image typically portraited is that of the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil, grains, vegetables, fruit, fish…We cannot, however, refer to just one single Spanish diet since there are many regional differences. In this article, we are going to cover those and highlight some of Spain´s most well-known local dishes. From the valencian paella to the ,madrid cocido,learn all about spain’gastronomy … Read More

Mediterranean landscape in Spain

Most beautiful places in Spain

Spain is full of small villages that surprise the visitor. Places of inmense charm, history and excellent local food. Discover the most beautiful places in Spain to build your pferct dream trip … Read More

White villages in Spain

White villages in Spain

One of the best experiences to enjoy in Spain is to leave the big cities and get to know the small villages spread throughout Spain´s geography. The white villages in Spain is the most famous option. Located in Andalusia, southern Spain, these villages are located in fantastic landscapes and share white in their houses as a way to fight against the heat. In this guide we recommend you a road trip amongst some of the most beautiful white villages in Spain. … Read More

Traditional family in a flamenco performance

Flamenco dance and music

Flamenco is passion, music, dance, and an icon of Spanish culture. Flamenco shows can be enjoyed all over Spain at tablaos. This music genre is deeply rooted in Spanish history and its evolution is full of anecdotes and interesting stories. In this post, we invite you to the wonderful and colorful land of Flamenco music and flamenco dance. … Read More

People walking el Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago has long been a challenging physical and spiritual journey that people of all walks of life have undertaken to achieve enlightenment and “test their metal”. The walk takes days to complete on foot and can be grueling at points, but the connection to nature and to one’s inner voice that you will experience is well worth the effort. Enjoy this complete guide of El Camino to prepare your trip. … Read More