It was a lot of travelling from Barcelona to Seville. When we got to the hotel the night before, we immediately hit the sack. We were dead tired. By then we had gotten over the jet lag. We slept at the same time as Spaniards do. That is progress.
We woke up to a beautiful morning in Seville. It was so tranquil and peaceful here unlike Barcelona. There is a small town feeling to it. People walk much slower.
We went to this delightful square the Alameda de Hercules. This square is adorned with columns of Hercules and Julius Caesar and is the site of an ancient Roman temple.
The hotel gave us a map showing where we could go get breakfast. The map was hopeless. It was easier just walking in the general direction.
Unlike Barcelona which is a major metropolitan city, Seville is more Spanish. It is here that we began to have problems with language. In Barcelona, almost everyone speaks or at least understands English but not here. When we landed at the Seville airport, we asked for directions at the Informacion booth which has the words “Informacion/Information” blazonedon it. They don’t understand English!
So ordering breakfast here is a bit problematic. We ordered Cafe Con Leche which is not a problem. The Cafe Con Leche here are served in a glass and all smooth and stirred. This is slightly different from those we had the previous few days in Barcelona. For the first time too, they automatically gave us glasses of cold water even though we did not ask for it. That was nice.
We then tried to order the tomato toast but we had problems. Tostada was about the only Spanish word and cheese was the only English word that got through in the conversation. So we had Cheese Tostada. The toast was nice but the cheese was too dry for us. All these was €7.
After breakfast we went to look for the Seville Card. It was one of those passes that allowed you to visit as many tourist attractions as you like within a time period. We opted for the 72 hour card which costs €36 each. Actually, this is actually costs more than if we had paid entrances to the places we visited.
The card is kind of complicated too. The card we got was the “cultura” card with limited benefits. It does not include discounts to restaurants and shops.
The strange thing is that you cannot buy the Seville Card anywhere else other than this souvenir shop called Iconos. You cannot get it even at the official Information office.
First order of the day was to visit the No 1 tourist attraction in Seville — The Cathedral of Seville.
We had been to many many cathedrals throughout Europe and I often said that if you had seen one you had seen them all. Not true for the Cathedral of Seville. It is so full of history and yet so relatively unknown.
We were surprised to learn that the Cathedral of Seville is the third largest church in the world. This cathedral was built immediately after the re-conquest of the city from the Moslem Moors. It was built on top of the great Moorish mosque. The bell tower used to be a minaret. When it was built they wanted to make this the biggest and grandest of all churches to show off the reconquest of the city.
For many years before the reconquest, Iberia peninsular was under the control of the muslim. I think Spain is about the only country that had successfully re-conquered the country from the Moors and turned back the tide of Islam. In the process, it had made Spain more Christian.
The Cathedral of Seville is huge with soaring roof with pointed arches of the Gothic style. This style allows building of this size without having thick walls to support the structure …
… and thinner walls also meant being able to have bigger windows. The stained windows were well maintained despite its 400 years of age.
There are almost EIGHTY chapels of various sizes here — all of them grand and adorned with art and sculptures.
There were lots of church treasures of precious metals and stones. I can only imagine how much they are all worth.
All these are build because of the wealth Seville once had from the monopoly of trade with the newly discovered New World.
Talking about the New World, the Cathedral of Seville is also where the tomb of … Christopher Columbus. His tomb is symbolically sculpted as being carried by four kings representing the kingdoms of Castile, Leon, Arragon and Navarre.
If you sub the shoes of the kings, you will live a life like Columbus … travel and discover new worlds. Suanne rubbed it, so she will travel far and wide. So did I!!
I think the above is called the retablo. It is the centerpiece of the church with carvings of the life of Christ. It was a magnificent carving and took years to complete by one man. This is considered the greatest in the Christian World. I think you will be awed by the grandeur of this altarpiece … we were.
It would be lovely if they had played the organ when we visited.
We next went up the Bell Tower. It is called the Giralda. This used to be a minaret of a mosque but had since been redesigned as a bell tower.
The climb to the top was not easy. They do not have stairs to the top but instead it was ramps. If I recall correctly it was about 160 ramps all the way. Ramps are easier on the legs but it was not why it was designed this way. This is because they could ride a horse up the ramps.
We were wondering if these bells were still in use … and if they do, it must have been deafening standing there.
From the top we can pick up a few landmarks. The round circular building … you see that? That is the bull fighting ring. A matador got badly injured (or even killed?) by a bull the night we were there. I’ll tell you more about the drama later.
Seville is a really old city and its history dates back to the era of Christ.