Thursday, November 1, 2018

Sevilla, Spain, November 1, 2018

What a great day!  Sevilla is a beautiful city with most of the sights very close to each other.  I went on a 2 hour walking tour with a great guide.  Walking to the meeting point, which was about a mile from my hostel, the streets were pretty quiet-

Great wall art-

The streets are narrow and you never know what you might find around the next corner, like this small church-

Or even on the corners-

The architecture is so beautiful and the city is very clean.  I get a good feeling here.

Francisco, my guide, started out by explaining the history of Sevilla.  It was founded by the Phoenicians who came here after establishing Cadiz, the oldest continually inhabited city in Western Europe.  The only mode of transport at the time was by boat so from Cadiz, Sevilla was just up the river.  They liked it here because of it's proximity to water and the beautiful weather.  After the Phoenicians came the Romans, then the Visigoths, the Muslims and finally the Catholics in 1248..  

Our first stop was at Plaza Nueva where there's a great monument to Ferdinand III (1199 - 1252)-

And there is square-

after square: La Inmaculada Concepción-

after square: Fuente de Puerta de Jerez-

after square: Fuente de las Cuatro Estaciones-

The 'newer' face of City Hall is pretty plain and boring.  It was only built when a convent, that was attached to the building was tore down.  It's in plateresco style-

But, when you walk around to the front of the building-

It's amazing, although not all the walls are ornately carved.  They ran out of money so couldn't finish the work properly.  However, there are paintings of the building that depict completed walls.  Our guide laughed at that-

The arch is now useless since the convent is gone and the legend goes that if you walk through the arch, you will not find love, so you will never see a Sevillian doing that.  Tourists do it all the time-

The cathedral is unbelievable.  It began as a mosque during the reign of the Muslims 700 - 1248 in the 11th century and this is evident with the keyhole doorway-

Apostles now flank the door and once the Catholics came in 1248 they worshiped together until the earthquake of 1315 when the Saints were added flanking the door, the Coats of Arms were added as were the bells-

The roof lines through the entrance -

The minaret tower was changed to include 25 bells.  Muslims don't use bells, but Catholics do.  Today the 322 foot tower is called El Giraldillo because of the weather vane on top.  When it was a minaret, a man had to climb to the top 5 times a day to call the people to prayer.  Inside are 35 ramps to the top so he could ride up on a horse or donkey

Building minaret towers, Muslims use ceramics but they decided to use bigger blocks of stone from former Roman buildings at the base for proper support-

Each balcony and doorway is different-

Walking around the Cathedral, it's such an eclectic masterpiece-

The main entrance-

Just steps away is the Alcazar which has been a royal palace since 913 when the Muslims built it in the hope for independence from Syria.  Today it is still the royal palace-

Next to it is the General Archives of the Indies which was built and used from the 16th to the 18th centuries to do trade with the America's.  They dealt in tobacco, tomatoes, gold, silver, and chocolate.  Today there are over 86 million documents inside - transaction records, diaries of explorers and notes.  It functioned like a stock exchange-

Large pillars with chains were built to keep carts and horses from crossing into the building as well as into the cathedral.  Markets used to be held in both places but as people progressed in their thinking, they no longer wanted the mess so this was a good way to keep the animals out-

In 1929, Seville hosted an Expo to commemorate the colonization of the Americas.  Constitution Avenue was renovated, as were the many buildings along it such as the Cinema Theatre Coliseo-

Just around the corner is the Torre Del Oro, built by the Muslims for protection.  As traders entered the city, they had to stop here to pay taxes that could only be paid in either gold or silver-

The Alfonso XIII Hotel was built for the expo.  Today, a double room costs over $1200.  No, I'm not staying there-

There is an LRT running through the downtown.  The cars are interesting because you can't see into them-

The colors of the buildings are beautiful-

Across the street is the Royal Tobacco Factory which takes up a whole block.  It was built in the 18th century and closed in 1950.  Tobacco came from the Americas and was very expensive.  Two products were manufactured here - pipe tobacco and snuff.  Health problems occured from inhaling snuff so Doctor Nicot (ever wonder where the word nicotine came from?) suggested people stop using snuff and smoke cigarettes instead!  50% of the workers were women because they could roll better.  Today the building is part of the university-

The top engraving depicts a mill stone that was used to grind the tobacco.  The second image is of an Indian smoking a pipe - that's where the Spaniards got the idea from-

Just a little further up the road is Plaza des Armas, also built as a welcome centre for the expo.  It is fantastic-

Each of the 49 Spanish provinces is represented:  Burgos-

The tile work is amazing: Cadiz-


and Almeria-

That was the end of our tour, so I wandered back to the center, past a chestnut vendor-

I stopped for a tapa - cod fish in Andalusia sauce but it wasn't as good as the brava sauce I had yesterday-

There are a few tourist shops, not like some places though.  Aprons in flamenco style are for sale-

Walking home, I passed many churches with tile work-

The Metropolitan Parasol is the largest wooden sculpture in the world.  It's 150 metres by 70 meters and was completed in 2011.  It has an observation deck and underneath you can see Roman ruins-

At 5, I tried to go to the new movie Bohemian Rhapsody, the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen.  I almost bought my ticket online but thought I'd wait to make sure the film was VOS - original language. Well, it was in Spanish so I didn't go.  I may try to see it in another cinema tomorrow.

I'm looking forward to more touristy stuff in this beautiful city!

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