Sunday, October 16, 2016

Iberian Discovery - Part 5

Beautiful Seville

The morning after the exciting flamenco performance we headed out to see more of Seville. Our local guide took us walking through picturesque streets toward the main cathedral square. Along the way we passed an enticing ceramic shop where I would have loved to browse. Alas, no time for browsing as we marched on.
Here are some scenes from our journey through narrow streets.
Old Roman columns were frequently incorporated into corners.
Along the way we emerged into this attractive square surrounded by fruit-bearing orange trees.
Eventually, we came to the area near the Seville Cathedral and the Real Alcazar. Since the entrance line for the Real Alcazar was so long, our guide took us first to the Archive of the Indies. This marble staircase led to an upper floor housing records of Spanish maritime commerce going back centuries.
Our next stop was the Seville Cathedral, the third largest church in the world after Saint Peter's Basilica and the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil. The original cathedral was built between 1402 and 1506. There have been various repairs since then. I have too many cathedral pictures to post here, so only a sample will follow. High overhead was an intricate ceiling.
The main altar was backed by an enormous, elaborate three-dimensional tableau illustrating the story of Christianity, including gruesome, explicit scenes of martyrdom.
There was so much to see. Instead of sitting as the local guide lectured, I wandered around to explore many side chapels.

This elaborate ceiling was impressive.
The next three pictures progress from ground level upward from the marble base to the carved figures to the organ on top.
The Seville Cathedral also contains the tomb of Christopher Columbus. His corpse has been moved from place to place over the centuries. It seems portions of his remains have been lost on the way along with history's kind judgment of his actions. Apparently, only 60 grams of his corpse have ended up in the impressive tomb below.
When I entered the cathedral an attendant insisted I remove my hat. Consequently, as I walked around taking pictures I continually juggled camera and hat. Somewhere along the way I dropped the hat and didn't realize it was gone until we left the cathedral. There was no going back without leaving the tour group, getting in a line, paying an admission fee, and probably never finding the dropped hat in the vast cathedral. So, my hat was lost forever. An ordinary lost hat wouldn't be troubling, but this was no ordinary hat. It was a unique, one of a kind Randolph Macon Woman's College hat that I loved wearing. They don't make them any more. It was issued to only a few members of the admissions committee one year when I was a member. I wore it with pride in my former institution and my former profession. Now it's gone forever along with lots of other things I've lost in the past few years. It seems like a silly thing, but I was really deeply upset about this symbolic loss.

Well, what can you do? Look up at the intricate decorations on the entrance portals and building exteriors outside the cathedral.
The Giralda, or bell tower, is a distinctive Seville landmark. It stands next to the cathedral and rises high above all surrounding buildings. This tower, shown below, was originally a Muslim minaret constructed between 1184 and 1198. After Christians reconquered Seville in 1248 the tower was eventually made into a bell tower for the cathedral. The lower two thirds of the tower is the original minaret which has survived earthquakes through the centuries. The top one third containing the bells was done in the 1500's.
Our next stop was the Real Alcazar of Seville. This royal palace has been constructed over the centuries beginning with a Moorish fort in 913. Once again, our group was able to bypass long lines. We entered at the "Lion Gate" seen below.
The magnificent doorway seen in the next picture led to interior wonders.
Once inside we had our first exposure to the stunning Moorish decoration and architecture we would see at several places during the trip. Pictured below is the Maiden's Courtyard and then a typical wall decoration.
Beautiful windows and doors gave views of green gardens outside.
I stared in wonder at colorful intricate details.
This is the magnificent ceiling in the Hall of the Ambassadors.
After seeing these glorious sights I wondered how the Alhambra in Granada could possibly top the Seville Alcazar. (Note: I shouldn't have wondered!) Afflicted with a mild case of scenic overload, we walked back to our hotel past this lovely park.
Released from official group tours, we were free for the evening. After resting a bit at the hotel we headed out on foot to get dinner. The area near the cathedral was so attractive we decided to go back and wander slowly around. Here's the view of the Canal de Alfonso XIII from our hotel.
We found a shaded walking path along the canal and saw the view shown below from the path. The Giralda Tower seen in the distance was our guidepost. As long as we kept heading in the tower's direction, we would eventually get to our goal.
Soon we were walking close to the cathedral. Near sunset the evening became very pleasant. Streets were full of people enjoying the weather. We thought of our granddaughters when we passed this shop.
We turned up a small side street nearly across from this cathedral entrance gate.
On this cobblestone side street we shared a vegetable paella dinner at an outdoor table with the following view of nearby diners.
After dinner we strolled around near the cathedral and were entertained by street performers. In particular, a very strange and hilarious setup, pictured below, was unusually amusing. In the picture below a collection can sits above a center hole flanked by two fake heads on either side. (The performer was taking a break at the time.) During the performance a frizzy-haired guy's painted head stuck up through the center hole. He kept up a funny, squeaky, nonsense chatter - something like a crazed Furby. As people walked by, the fake heads suddenly popped up with a squawk, causing passersby to jump. Then the guy emitted a crazed laugh, or babbled some incoherent sympathetic noises. I took some video of the action, and I laugh every time I watch. After C put a coin in his bucket, the whole table rushed forward toward her as she hurried away. Then the guy chattered something that sounded like, "love you".
We had a pleasant, relaxed stroll back to the hotel through streets crowded with people at sidewalk cafes or at restaurants having late Spanish dinners around 10:30 pm. Families with little kids wide awake in strollers were still out near 11:00 pm in no hurry, it seemed, to get the kids to bed. We came upon a kiosk selling chocolate and churros and decided to try this dessert. The chocolate was so thick a spoon wouldn't sink. The churros, a kind of linear donut, was made fresh right in front of us. I found the chocolate-dipped churros to have a heavy, plutonium density consistency. Chocolate loving C ate most of the serving.
Very near our hotel we passed this alley where victims of the Inquisition were once taken.
Seville was a lovely city. I wouldn't mind coming back to spend more time exploring all it offers.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I'm o.k. well they look at me kind of strange
Surely you're not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

John Lennon