Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Seville - so much more than a barber's town

Who would have thought there would be so much to see in Seville? My only prior knowledge of this remarkable city harks back to Rossini's opera (had to get that in there early), but in fact the infamous barber is nowhere to be found. (You'd have more luck finding signs of Don Q and his pal, Pancho.)

Plaza de Espana
 Instead, there are enough monuments and historical buildings to feast on, and this meant we had to prioritise. Our first afternoon saw us take a group walk around the central part of the town, taking in such sights as Plaza De Espana (a semi-circular plaza/buildings built for the Latin American expo in 1929) and many of the old churches, gardens, plazas etc. This gave us a full day to get inside some of the major attractions, which for me were: the Alcazar (14th C palace), the Cathedral (largest gothic building in the world and 3rd largest church in Europe), and the Bullfighting ring/museum.

 The Alcazar was the absolute highlight for me. It's a maze of tiled rooms, courtyards and gardens in the Moorish style, adapted and added to in the 14th C by the Catholic monarchs. There's a range of different tiling styles, depending on the period, and the two main wings of the palace are in the Mudejar (Moorish) and Baroque styles respectively. We spent three hours here and I could probably have stayed the entire day. LOVED it. Loved it so much I bought the pictorial visitor's guide. Enough said, really.

Cathedral with Giralda Tower
 After the Alacazar, the slightly more expensive cathedral was a bit of an anti-climax, although it was certainly huge/massive/enormous and the treasury areas were interesting and different from your run-of-the-mill cathedral. So too was the Giralda Tower, a 12th C Moorish tower next to the cathdral that is evidently the city's most famous monument. We climbed this -- for once by ramp, much easier than stairs -- and were rewarded with a fabulous view of the city.

The visit to the bull-fighting ring was a sobering experience. I certainly didn't want to see a bull fight (and we didn't), but I was interested to learn a little more about the practice. It was a very well presented tour, taking in the ring and a museum with art collection that helped explain the practice (I can't call it a sport). It's horrible. It should be banned. I cannot believe how excited they get about it, and will not describe what happens here, except to say that it's worse than I thought and I don't think the fact that the bull lives a happy pastured life for 5 years leading up to the fight really makes up for it. Enough said.

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