Friday, 21 February 2014

Alcazar & La Giralda, or Cramming all my Sightseeing into One Day

Kathy and Joyce had been in Seville longer than I had, and both already been to The Alcazar and to La Giralda. So far my sightseeing consisted of an ill-advised hungover trip to Plaza de España and walking past La Giralda at least four times a day!

So our last day looked like this: We'd all get up and do the walking tour, after a night in at the hostel eating pizza and girl talk, then I'd go to La Giralda and the Alcazar then we'd spend the last afternoon in the pool before finally hiring bikes, like we'd been meaning to everyday. One thing was for sure, we were going to have to be organised to do everything!

We set off on our walking tour, where Edy talked to us about La Giralda, and the history of Seville, he walked us to La Torre del Oro, and all the way back to good old Plaza de España. It was late in the afternoon when we left him, and I still hadn't hit la Alcazar or La Giralda. On Eddy's recommendation I went to la Alcazar first.




La Torre del Oro, The Gold tower was an old military watch tower, overlooking the river running through Seville. It has also served as a prisoner in it's time. It's a pretty popular place for story-telling, mostly making up stories about where it gets it's name. Apparently men take women there to woo them with their stories of gold being kept there, or that gold leaf has been put into the mixture of materials, or that this is where rich men in the city exchanged gold for beautiful trinkets. Really it's because of the mix of mortar and lime, but don't tell the Sevillian's that!



The Alcazar in Seville is not one, but four Palaces. It started off as a Roman fortress, which was then taken over by Christian forces, and taken again by the Moors, and eventually won back by the Christians. Each of these reigns mean that there are four different palaces within the structure. The palace today is still a Royal Palace owned by the monarchy in Spain. I arrived mid-afternoon and didn't manage to get an audio guide, which I think would have been much more helpful walking around. I don't think I fully appreciated la Alcazar without it, plus the fact that I'd already been to la Alhambra, which to me was a more impressive place than the Alcazar, though I would still recommend visiting it. Here are some of my favourite photos:

 

 



After that I nipped into La Giralda and Seville Cathedral. I didn't stay long inside, I meandered around, wanting to check out the tomb of Christopher Colombus. We were told that actually, it might not be the tomb of Christopher Colombus as he wanted to be buried in the America's, which he was to begin with but as the Spanish lost power his remains got moved around and eventually back to Seville. However, once it came to light that the original place may have replaced his corpse, the city did testing on the body to find out whether or not it was Christopher Colombus, and it came out to be only a 20% chance. Though, the Sevillian's have decided this 20% higher chance than anyone else since nowhere else has had his remains tested.



Seville's Cathedral also known as La Catedral Santa Maria de la Sede de Sevilla (aka La Giralda) used to be a Mosque, and like the rest of the city has Moorish roots. Originally the Christian's wanted to tear it down, but with the threat of killing a Moor for each brick removed from the Mosque, they decided to extend it and make it into a Cathedral. Giving it a rather strange feel when you're inside, there is still a beautiful courtyard at the back, Patio de los Naranjos belonging to the old Mosque.

The Cathedral was extended and extended to show the wealth of Seville. Every time the King came to see it, he said it was not big enough, and said "Let us build a church so beautiful and so great that those who see it built will think we were mad". Mad indeed, the church is absolutely enormous. Beautiful, perhaps not. It's kind of like when you're a kid and you play with LEGO's but instead of following the instructions you just pour several sets together and build something crazy with all of it and it doesn't actually look like anything except a collection of different bricks- that is kind of how Seville's Cathedral looks from the outside.

 



La Giralda itself was the Minaret from the old Mosque. The Christians converted it into a bell tower for their church adding the top third of the tower for the bell. In spite of the tower's greatness, 343ft tall, there are only 17 steps, the access is more or less all slopes all the way up and down the tower. Which is rather handy in the heat of Seville. At the top of La Giralda were four bronze gilt spheres, but in an Earthquake in 1365 the spheres disappeared. To replace it they put a statue at the top, called La Giralda, to promote the Christian faith, but in Seville this didn't go down too well, as she was a woman! To make the men feel more macho they nicknamed her, "El Giraldillo" to become masculine- but anyone with eyes can see she is a woman.








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