We had a full day here in Seville, covering prehistory through today!
We began by exploring the Real Alcazar, which was originally a Moorish Palace complete with an outrageously large harem. It was later converted to a citadel serving as part of the fortified wall of Seville. During the 500 years of Islamic rule in Sevilla, meaning “Letters of Light”, this palace thrived. When the Christians conquered the Moors and King Ferdinand rode into town victorious, he was handed the key to the palace. Much of the palace was replaced, or “remodeled”later. It is an excellent example of blending the styles of art and architecture, and it is a visually stunning treat. The Palace is a series of courtyards and open air rooms heavily decorated in the white on white, geometric designs, interspersed with Arabic writing.This complex yet restful work is set off by a blaze of colorful tiles with an infinite variety of patterns. The double arches lead from one room to another, and into open courtyard spaces flawlessly. There are fountains and little channels of water every where. It is much like the Alhambra in Granada.
The gardens are an amazing combination of geometric patterned hedges in fragrant plants, a riot of jasmine and wisteria, orange and lemon trees, tall slender palms, and a canopy of shade from lacy deciduous trees. There are secret little corners with fountains, ducks splashing in the ponds. Doves coo and magnificent peacocks stroll nonchalantly around the grounds. It is a quiet oasis in the middle of bustling, noisy Seville.
Image via Wikipedia
We spent most of the day in the gigantic Cathedral. It is the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world, and its designers recognized the fact that future generations would possibly think them mad. It is, counting Christian Cathedrals of all periods, the third largest in the world surpassed only by St. Peter´s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London. It is a collection of magnificent rib vaults, stained glass, inlaid marble floors and priceless paintings and sculpture. There is enough gold and silver in there to sink several ships, and the wood carvings on the choir and pipe organs defies belief in its beauty. It was intended to be gilded, but is so much more beautiful and understated in its natural finish. It is here that Christopher Columbus is entombed, carried by figures representing the four original provinces of Old Spain.
The most fascinating part of the Cathedral to me was the bell tower, which actually was part of a 12th Century Mosque. The beautiful Mosque was demolished in a fit of “We won, you lost” attitude after the reconquista when the Moors were driven out of Spain. This is a beautiful Cathedral, but the question haunts me, “Wouldn´t it have been just as beautiful if it was built next door and the Mosque was allowed to remain?” this attitude of crush the looser is wrong today as the radical Muslims wage jihad, and it was wrong when the Christians did it in the Crusades and the Inquisition. I wish we could learn not to do that. Spain shows us how, in many ways, the blend of societies and art forms can be more beautiful than any of them standing alone. Yet here is a victory Cathedral over the remains of something that was once holy to another group. It was really a thought provoking day, and as we stood at the top of the bell tower looking out over this city that has seen so much it seemed very powerful.
We toured around the city for about an hour on an open air bus, then hit the tapas bars for snacks magnifique! The wine in the grocery store, a really nice Templarinillo red, was only 1.15 Euro per botella! And the wine at the sidewalk cafe where we had tapas was 2 Euro per glass, also a very smooth Rioja.
So that was our day……I cannot believe it all happened today. We will crash and do something equally great tomorrow, then our stay in lovely, light filled Seville will come to an end.