Seville,The Most Majestic Of Spain’s Cities
- Seville, capital of Andalusia, is a contrast of Gothic and Moorish Architecture, Bouganvillas and orange trees, and palaces and cathedrals. It is marked by a sophistication which belies its Andalusian roots.
The port city nearest Seville is Cadiz, a charming town in its own right. Cruises use this as a jump off point to tour Andalusia. While most choose to take the 1.75 hour drive to Seville, passengers who choose to stay behind may spend a pleasant day wondering the streets of old town in Cadiz, or enjoying the luxurious white sands of her famous beaches. The experience will not disappoint.
Seville is a city of sophistication and grace.
Entering the Seville, we were immediately impacted by the stately architecture and lush landscaping punctuated by splashes of color from blooming Jacarandas and Bouganvillas. The Tartessians first settled this area almost 2,500 years ago. Three hundred years later, the Romans built the settlement of Italica in the Seville area, and from there ruled the Mediterranean for seven centuries. The Moors captured the area early in the eighth century and ruled Seville for almost six hundred years. In the fifteenth century Seville played a major role in Columbus’s voyage to America. As a cultural and artistic center, Seville was home to artists such as Velasquez, and Valdez, and gave birth to literary characters such as Don Juan and Carmen. Lord Byron called Seville “a pleasant city famous for oranges and women.” In deed the women of Seville are noted for their dark Spanish beauty and aristocratic sense of style, but the oranges are no competition to those of Valencia.
Since our time in Seville was limited by the ship’s one day stop in Cadiz, and the time required to travel from and return to the charming port town, we chose three destinations to visit. The first was the Piazza De Espana, a magnificent complex of buildings decorated with colorful mosaics, and built around a piazza beautifully landscaped with fountains, trees, and colorful blooms. The Piazza De Espana was built as the centerpiece for the 1929 World’s Fair, and its architecture shows an undeniably Moorish influence. Having recently been renovated in a project that spanned nine years, the grandiose structure is famous for colorful Azulejo tile mosaic pictures depicting all of Spain’s provinces, and four bridges representing the four ancient kingdoms which once ruled the Iberian Peninsula.
Our second stop in Seville was at the Cathedral. The building was intended to be a great mosque, and was constructed at the hand of Yusuf II beginning in 1171. In 1248, Ferdinand III expelled the Moors, and transformed the structure into a Church in the name of the Virgin Mary. One hundred and fifty years later, The City of Seville raised the old mosque, leaving one minaret erect. The largest Gothic church, and third largest church of any design, was then built in its place. Its alter piece is among the largest in existence, and depicts thirty six biblical scenes. On the south side of the Cathedral, there lies the tomb of Christopher Columbus, with figures representing the kings of the four ancient kingdoms of Iberia as pallbearers. The interior of the cathedral is very dark, but its many displays glaringly demonstrate the wealth of The Church in medieval times.
Upon leaving the cathedral, we sought out a local restaurant and enjoyed a lunch of tapas and paella. The food was delectable, and appropriate, given that tapas were invented in Seville.
Our final stop in Seville was the famous Alcazar Palace, a structure of Moorish influence, but not built by the Moors as the Alhambra Palace was. In the mid fourteenth century, Pedro I ordered the construction of a palace in Seville on the sight of the Alcazar fortress, which was captured from the Moors 100 years earlier. This Seville palace was built by Christian workers, but used traditional Moorish designs. Entering the palace through the Lions Gate, we found ourselves in one of many courtyards, each of which was designed with a pool at its center surrounded by lush landscaping. Original structures, built by the Moors for the Alcazar Fort, can be found throughout this palace in Seville, but only an expert can separate the Moorish from the Spanish. The royal rooms are decorated with Flemish tapestries depicting Spanish victories, and other evidence of the wealth of King Pedro in Seville. It is said that Pedro was not above ordering the execution of his guests to obtain the riches they carried.
Seville is truly a city of beauty, grace, and high fashion, and every visitor leaves impressed.
Happy Cruising. Andrew Kruglanski http://cruisesuz.com.
For travel advice, call Cruisin Susan Kruglanski, Expedia CruiseShipCenters, 1-866-794-2857. Take a cruise to Andalusia and Seville, its capital.
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Photos of Seville are public domain.