Well, you know me by now. I’d rather experience the culture than see the sights. But it’s hard on a first visit to miss the main events.
In our first apartment we would go to sleep with the lights on the largest Cathedral I have ever seen (Although I have been to Sr. Peter’s in Rome).* And we would wake in the morning to hordes of tourists groups wearing their earbuds (it’s modern now – everone can hear the leader without clustering).This scene qualifies as a “Times Square” occurrence since the tour-ists are normally a bit unconscious, bumping into each other and gazing up and around without awareness of circumstances in their environment.
On Mary’s last morning we were fortunate to slip into a side door that was open and see the main portion of the Catedral. Although several areas were roped off, we could soak up the grandeur accompanied by priests chanting in some sort of mass or ritual that was only for their beneift. We could peek into their innersactum and see that there were no other worshipers attending.
Another morning Kellee and I wandered into the chapel of the Catedral where a mass was being held. Finally, though, we paid our money and wandered through this awesome site.
And we couldn’t miss the other nearby World Heritage Site, The Real Alcázar de Sevilla where the upper floors are still used as the royal palace. This is a beautiful testament to Moorish influence, architecture and artistry that we have enjoyed in Portugal and Spain. When we visited we first went into what seemed a bit like a museum with tapestries and some of the intricate art works made from the tiny decorative tile.
Having seen The Alhambra in Grenada and having a short attention span, I was ready leave. But then a right turn brought us into a labrynth of rooms styled in intricate carving and surrounding lush gardens.I’m so glad I didn’t play the “Mother Card” and cause Kellee to miss this site. It was beautiful.
And, of course, there are “The Parasols”, nicknamed by locals as “the Mushrooms”. THey are strangely modern in an old city, and (hearsay) were wildly expensive due to overruns and mistakes. This landmark seemed to be the center of many of our wanderings – one of the most important was to replenish our stock of walnuts and dried fruits that were sold in the market on that square.
The Plaza de España, a total surprise nestled into the Parque de María Luisa is not to be missed. Wandering from the wide boulevards and plazas from Avenue de la Constitution, past the Universidad de Sevilla and across to the park, we had to hunt for this treasure. The detail in the mosaics, the charm of the bridges crossing the winding canal, and the color and complexity of the design all create a feast for the eyes that takes time to assimilate.
The rest of our time in Sevilla we wandered into churches. And they are amazing.
One thinks of the Catedrál as the end all and be all, and it is grand. But every little church we entered was filled with gold and statuary that were beyond imagining. The Iglesia de El Salvador had so many gold niches that it rivaled the Catedrál and was overwhelming compacted into a much small (relatively) space.
Iglesia de San Nicholá, Iglesia de Santa Maria Magdalena, I can’t remember all of the names and certainly not all of the details. Enough to say that the Catholic Church has amassed a treasury of gold and silver that is held in these worship places. As Kellee put it -one can’t but admire the artistry and artisanship of those who created these masterpieces while at the same time decrying the amount of wealth amassed by a church that holds sway over many people in many lands who might have benefited from it.
One hopes that the reverence and appreciation evident in the worshipers in these Cathedrals and churches is worth the cost.
*The Cathedral of Seville was once judged the third largest church in the world after Saint Peter’s in Rome and Saint Paul’s in London, it is now arguably the largest church in the world when compared using the measurement of volume. Seville’s fifteenth century cathedral occupies the site of the former great mosque built in the late twelfth century. The central nave rises to an awesome 37 metres over a total area of 11,520 square metres.