Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Seville, the resting place of Christopher Columbus, Spain

Our 2011 conference was in February in the wonderful city of Madrid so we decided to make the most of it and travel a few days early to visit Seville. We flew into Madrid and took one of the fast trains (RENFE) to Seville, they are fantastic, quiet, clean and even have movies in both English and Spanish. Being early in the year the weather wasn't great however that didn't stop us from having a lovely few days in this special Andulician city. We stayed in the Vinci La Rabida hotel which was just a short walk from the catedral in the city centre, in February it was a little cold but I'm sure later in the Spring it would have been perfect for a city break.

View across to Seville's bull ring
The Catehdral and the Alcazar of Seville are perhaps the two most famous tourist destinations in Seville. The immense cathedral with its five naves is the largest Gothic edifice in Europe, it is home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Like other cathedrals in the region it occupies the site of a great mosque and was converted later in the 12th century.

Seville's Cathedral

The tomb of Christopher Columbus

Patio de los Naranjos
Located just outside the cathedral, the Patio de los Naranjos dates back to the Moorish times when worshippers would wash their hands and feet here, under the orange trees before their daily prayers.

No we didn't wash our hand and feet in the fountain, managed to resist the urge
Inside the Alcazar
Unfortunately on the day when we visited the Alcazar it was wet and overcast so our photos reflect the weather and perhaps don't do this amazing place justice. Later in 2011 we spent some more time in Spain and visited the Alahambra in Granada, perhaps more widely known than the Alcazar in Seville and whilst very impressive, for me the Alcazar was the one I'd chose to visit if I only had one option. 

It's easy to be fooled into thinking this is a Moorish palace as some of the rooms and courtyards seem to come straight from the Alahambra. Most of them were actually built by Moorish workmen but for King Pedro the Cruel of Castile in the 1360s who, with his mistress Maria de Padilla, lived and ruled from the Alcazar. Pedro embarked upon a complete rebuilding of the palace, employing workmen from Granada and utilizing fragments of earlier Moorish buildings in Seville, Cordoba and Valencia.

Pedro's work forms the nucleus of the Alcazar as it is today and, despite numerous restorations necessitated by fires and earth tremors, it offers some of the best surviving examples of Mudejar architecture.

Next stop during our brief break in Seville was the Plaza de Espana. Representative of much of the regional architecture, this magnificent construction is highlighted with polychromatic ceramic tiles. The semi-circular plaza is flanked by two spectacular towers and a bordering lake. It was built for the Ibero-American exhibition of 1929. Its creator was Anibal Gonzalez who mixed a style inspired by the Renaissance with typical elements from the city: exposed brick, ceramics and wrought iron, the latter worked by Domingo Prida.
Plaza de Espana

Our final port of call from our post on Seville is the Seville bullring. Whatever you may think of this Spanish tradition it is worth a visit to this magnificent building which is considered to be one  of the finest in Spain and is one of the oldest and most important of its type across the globe. 

Farewell from Seville