6.11.2014

See no Evil in Sevilla

Sevilla (English translation: Seville) is the capital of the Andalusian region of Spain. For perfect weather, try October!

Giralda: mostly minaret, barely belltower.

Like Granada, Sevilla has strong Moorish influences, but it is balanced by more obvious Christian influences as well. 

It's not news that the Reconquista happened. I knew about it. I was prepared for the churches. Sevilla happens to have churches.

A cathedral, actually. 

It has a cathedral. A big one. The Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede is literally the largest cathedral in the world. In the world! This is known.

Big Catholic Influence.
But little did I know, before I even reached the hostel, that the Virgin Mary herself would appear before me.  
I would guess the crowd knew she was coming.

It was an overwhelming moment: bells clanging, cell phones raised in a traditional gesture of piety, a march of very slow flag-bearers. And then the Virgin Mary herself came out of the church on a dais of candles. (Unfortunate side-effect of that canopy: the poles holding it up look vaguely like really fancy prison bars.) I admired the crowd and unexpected spectacle as statue-Maria demonstrated her ability to build mystery and anticipation, and make a grand entrance. 

Church pomp: waxing elegant

Fortunately, there's more to Sevilla than strong Catholic tradition. Not fifty feet away from the Sevilla Cathedral is the Alcázar, a complex of Moorish and Spanish heritage. The Moors ruled for five centuries, and that leaves an impression on a city. The Alcázar was originally a fort, but transitioned into a palace through significant remodeling over the last five hundred years. It is the oldest royal palace in Europe still in use today, according to respectable sources like Wikipedia.

And it's a magical to spend an afternoon wandering with pleasant company. It's got everything:

Arches with colorful Islamic designs!

Even the arches have arches!

Arches with scallops!

The Courtyard of the Maidens, named after a legend of the Moorish king's
 demand of 100 virgins yearly from Christian kingdoms in Iberia.
Not entirely sure that legend is accurate...

Arches that look a face wearing helmets!

Dot the eyes?

Gardens with tropical trees!

And walls. Gotta keep the poor out somehow.

Rainwater tanks named after some king's mistress!

A place for quiet reflection.

And an absurdly tiny statue of Mercury!

Small cast system.
The Mercury rises on hot Spanish days.

But if you don't want any ancient history, there are also some more recent additions to Sevilla (like, within the last hundred years) such as the Plaza de España. 

There is something alien and beautiful about the place.

The whole area is a Moorish inspired blend of architectural styles from 1929 when it was built for a world's fair.

Bridging the gaps between cultures.

All of which you may have seen before in those Star Wars prequel movies we all like to pretend don't exist.

Just picture Natalie Portman
and some guy whining about being evil.

Spain. *sigh* It's the kind of paradise where you stop believing there are emotional states other than happy. Go to there! Feed your eyes with art and architecture. Bask in the perfect weather. And don't get trampled by the Virgin Mary.
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