What a great couple of days in Seville...
Trip Start May 26, 2011
33Trip End Jul 19, 2011
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Since I'm behind, I'm just going to combine the last couple of days of Seville and cover the highlights.
Yesterday I spent over four hours at the Seville Cathedral - also known as Catedral de Santa Maria del la Sede and is a Roman Catholic Cathedral. As I said before, it's the oldest gothic style church in the world and is the third largest church in the world behind the Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica and London's St. Paul's. It was started in the year 1402 and completed in 1506.
It is enormous and spread out, surrounded by Seville's tiny roadways so it's difficult to get a good picture of all of it. I took plenty from various angles so you'll get the idea. It also has a 265 foot tall bell tower called the Giralda. The tower doesn't have stairs, but instead 34 ramps you walk up to get to the top -- it was worth the climb for the views of the city. I only wished I could have done it at night with the city lit up.
The Cathedral was was built on a site that once had a Mosque before Ferdinand III re-conqueored Seville returning it to Christianity. Inside it has over 80 chapels and it is recorded that in 1896, Mass was held 500 times a day in the Cathedral. The tour was self-guided through a telephone handset-like device that you punched in a number as you followed the map and it would tell you about the area in which you were standing. I'm exaggerating but I swear I think it had me stopping at 79 of the 80 chapels. The tour also covered the grounds which includes a small courtyard of orange trees.
Probably the coolest thing about the Cathedral tour is I got to see the tomb of Christopher Columbus which is inside. There is a picture of the tomb to the right. His body was moved at least 4 times between different parts of the world before it eventually made it back to Seville and into the Cathedral.
There was something being filmed inside the Cathedral so they weren't allowing flash pictures that day -- it's fairly dark in there so that definitely affected the pictures I could take without a tripod but again, it will give you the idea of what it was like. More pictures are at the end of this blog entry -- take a look!
Since I haven't been able to wait to eat until 10pm to have a traditional (always late) Spanish dinner, I've been enjoying more casual places that sell Tapas which are small appetizer sized dishes -- kinda like Dim Sum for Chinese. I really enjoy the small sandwiches of meats and cheeses but some of the other stuff I could do without like the squid and olives. Blechhh!
Today I did another six hours of walking taking in the Alcazar of Seville which is a royal palace that started as a Moorish fort in the 10th century. Spanish kings later turned it into a palace each one adding more and more to it but using the same style making it mixture of Arabic and Spanish called mudejar. While much of it can be toured, the upper levels are still used by the Spanish royal family when they are in Seville making it the oldest, still used palace anywhere.
One cool area you can see is where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella worked with advisors to plan Columbus' voyages ending in the discovery of the Americas. The tile work inside is pretty impressive but it's the unique gardens that I spent the most time wandering around in and have plenty of pictures to prove it.
After leaving the palace, I worked my way over to The Plaza de Espana which is a beautiful area designed and built in Maria Luisa Park to showcase Spain's industry and technology exhibits at the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition and World's Fair. The pictures don't do it justice as it really is beautiful and cool that you can take boats out on to the canals in front.
The visit to Seville has been short but it's been fun and a great contrast to Madrid's more modern and sophisticated feel. Seville is more homey and the locals a little more friendly. My two years of high school Spanish have paid off as I have had many, many small conversations using just some key words that came back to me. The locals really seem to appreciate my trying or at least they get a laugh over it.
Tomorrow it's on to Barcelona for just a couple short days but will be back there for a longer stay later in the trip and actually flying back to Atlanta from Barcelona at the end.