Sunday, October 7, 2012


Last weekend I took a bus to Sevilla and Cádiz (separate post on Cádiz forthcoming). The afternoon I arrived in Sevilla, it was raining lightly but promising to continue indefinitely. The bus station didn't have a map so I wandered around looking for one, asking people for the general direction to La Catedral. Sure enough, there was a tourist booth there and I got my map and found out Thursday was a good day to visit Sevilla because admittance to the cathedral and the Alcázar (royal palace) was free. So I went into the cathedral, the third largest in the world. 

Above are two of the four figures hoisting Christopher Columbus' tomb, who represent the four kingdoms of Spain during his life (Castilla, Aragón, Navarra, León). The resting place of Columbus' remains is dubious, but this cathedral claims he is buried beneath this monument. 

I ascended the Giralda, the cathedral's famous bell tower, and the only remaining architectural feature of the mosque that formerly stood where the cathedral does now. It is the highest place in Sevilla, and provides incredible views of the city. 

Afterwards, I went to the nearby Alcázar, largely constructed in the 14th century. Shoes and socks soaked from the heavy rain, I wandered around the palace. John Crow, author of The Root and the Flower, an excellent book on Spanish history, calls the palace the finest example of Mudéjar architecture in existence. This type of architecture is a blend of Muslim and Christian styles. The ceilings in this place are amazing. 

I came to the Sala de las muñecas, or Hall of the dolls, named for the little doll faces carved into the arches, probably as a joke played by the Muslim builders. After searching, I asked a security guard for help to find the faces, because I didn't know exactly where they were and the room was big. He said he'd show me if I promised to return to Sevilla. 

(On either side of the archway, near the bottom, you can see the Gerber baby-type faces.)

The next day, I went to the Plaza de España, built for an exhibition in 1929. The man I was staying with (my first experience with Couchsurfing, and a good one), told me the newer Star Wars films used the place as a filming location. Turns out, some of Lawrence of Arabia was filmed there as well. 

Next, I went wandering through the old Jewish quarter, a cluster of narrow, winding streets. I even stumbled upon a Jewish museum there, where they want to charge you money to see artifacts from the Jews that Spain kicked out of the country in the 15th century. I didn't go in. 

Later, I unexpectedly found the Festival de las naciones, which had booths of many countries preparing their most popular food dishes. There was one for the United States. It was awesome in its steriostypicalness. Food: Buffalo Bill hamburger, chicken nuggets, Obama ribs, onion rings, Kentucky wings. Drink: Budweiser and Duff beer (The Simpsons are weirdly popular here. When I say I'm from Springfield, everyone starts singing the theme song to the show. I even see Duff t-shirts and sweaters on kids, and of course, on the people working in this booth). Posters: Marilyn Monroe, Miami, Las Vegas, Texas, Route 66, Statue of Liberty. It was interesting seeing how the U.S. is perceived. 

Afterward, I went to a Flamenco show at supposedly the best place in town. I was not impressed. It will be very difficult to find an authentic show.

The last morning I was there,  I went to the Museo de bellas artes, which everyone had said was the second best collection of Spanish art (after the Prado). No one had told me that the vast majority of the paintings were religious. Now, I like religious paintings as much as the next person, but after the seventh enormous room filled with nothing but saints, crosses, and blood, I was worn out, and ready for the six hour bus ride back to Madrid. 

1 comment:

  1. c mon you are in spain there can never be enough crosses blood or saintly devils.. (your Daddo)