More of the Splendor of Seville!

In the last post I showed you only a small part of Seville, including the incredible Plaza de Espana. This time I will take you through the impressive Seville Cathedral and into the Palace Alcazar.

The Seville Cathedral, formally know as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, dominates the old town area. Even the entrance to the Palace Alcazar, which is next door, is overshadowed by the imposing and attention grabbing presence of the Cathedral.

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This wasn’t always a Catholic Cathedral. In the 1190s it was a Muslim Mosque. Then in 1248, Fernando III conquered Seville and turned the mosque into a Catholic church and then expanded it into a Cathedral in the 1400s.

IMG_3263 IMG_3264Like the City Hall, the Cathedral was built to show the world how wealthy Seville was. The Cathedral grounds were used as trading grounds and marketplace for all the goods brought in from the New World. It finally became so much of a circus (or the priest finally remembered how Jesus threw the moneylenders out of the temple) the powers that be kicked the market off the Cathedral grounds and had them build a market hall next door and put up barricades and chains all around the Cathedral.

As you can see above, the outside is impressive and expansive. The inside is cavernous and glittering.

IMG_3313 IMG_3326 IMG_3327 IMG_3325And they have an impressive organ – 4 banks of pipes!! I would have loved to have heard it play, but the only thing you could hear in the church was the shuffling of tourist feet and the mumbling of the recorded tour everyone was holding up to their ears.

The choir hall was also impressive. This triangle thing in the middle is a music stand!

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And no Cathedral is complete without a relic or two. In this case there are well over 50! Each of these frame and stand sets contain a bit of different saints. It is terribly gross and E was horrified when I told him what they were – pieces of teeth and bone.  And then in typical 10-year-old fashion he ran to get his father to show him “the grossest thing ever.”IMG_3322

Like other Cathedrals, there are many side chapels filled with ornate altars. IMG_3304

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Altar de Plata – A most incongruous looking thing, but covered in silver and a real eye-catcher.

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And just off the side of that enormous gold and silver altar is the tomb and monument to Christopher Columbus.

IMG_3305He is in the coffin that the four bearers – each wearing a tunic with the crest of one of the main provinces of Spain – are lofting on their shoulders. They are silver with porcelain faces. He is quite revered here.  There are several monuments to him all around the city.

Seville had been primarily Muslim since 712 when Moors from North Africa conquered what was know as Hispalis. Moorish influence is still found throughout Seville. All those orange trees, for example, came with the Moors.

One of the places where the Moorish influence is still most keenly seen is at the Cathedral.  The bell tower, called La Giralda, is the former minaret where the muezzin would call the Muslim faithful to prayer.

IMG_3259Now, I don’t know if you are aware, but the Muezzin calls the faithful to prayer 5 times a day. So 5 times a day he’s got to climb up this tower, catch his breath, sing out the call to prayer, and then climb down.

Except he doesn’t.

This tower has a ramp going up so the Muezzin can ride a donkey up the tower. I don’t recommend riding that donkey down, though. It’s a bit steep and the stone is slick over centuries of use.

IMG_333034 flights later we were at the top. And since very few buildings are higher than La Giralda the views were outstanding.

IMG_3331 IMG_3333 IMG_3334You can see other signs of Moorish influences in the beautiful courtyard of Cathedral.

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There are orange trees everywhere and a complex arrangement of thin irrigation trenches that lead from the central fountain.IMG_3338

IMG_3340 The blend of Moorish and Gothic makes for a wonderfully pleasing combination. IMG_3342

And then we were off to see the Palace Alcazar, another place where different times and cultures are blended together to make something magnificent.

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The original part of the Alcazar was built by the Moorish Muslim kings in a style called Mudéjar. Hints of the original Mudéjar style run throughout the palace and it is blended with Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque.

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Every room is this ornately decorated. The walls are tiled, the arches are carved and painted. Now this is what a palace should look like!IMG_3403 IMG_3404 IMG_3405 IMG_3417

Above is the Courtyard of the Maidens. It’s peaceful even with all the people around you. The walls are beautifully tiled and there are stone benches under them where you can sit in the shade.

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It just keeps getting more beautiful.IMG_3388 IMG_3395 IMG_3396 IMG_3397 IMG_3398

The kings all lived here and each one added onto what the previous king had done. Including in the gardens.

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A resident peacock. One of several stalking around the cafe inside the palace. IMG_3433

There are tiled benches throughout the gardens, all made of Spanish tiles.IMG_3435

Promenades run throughout the garden. You can see couple taking slow walks under the orange trees and through the jasmine.IMG_3436 One of just a couple of gazebos in the gardens. These are relatively new to the palace. IMG_3438

This is the Grotto Garden. The stone work was made to look rough and natural. The fountain with Hermes in the center dominates this garden. IMG_3439

IMG_3440 IMG_3441The fountain has a stairway next to it that leads to a lower garden that is cooler during the hot summer.  IMG_3443

It isn’t uncommon to see brides and grooms here. It’s perfect for wedding pictures as we found out.IMG_3444

Her veil trailed behind her a good 8 feet. People were trying to hop over it as best they could to get past between shots.

I was surprised to see a very French garden here. It’s so sculpted and has clean lines in comparison to the other parts of the garden.IMG_3445

There are gardens here for all times of day and seasons. The one below was a great one for siesta time, also known as the hottest part of the day.

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But there is only so much garden and palace greatness one can see before you feel like you are going to fall over. (Me and Mark from tired feet. The boys from boredom.)  On the other side of the Cathedral we found a great cafe that gave us a good coffee and picturesque view of the city streets and gave the boys amazing ice cream sundaes.

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Well, I had lots more pictures than I anticipated. I will need to add another post to cover the bullring museum, the carriage ride through the garden, and more delicious Spanish food.

Take care until then!


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