Trip Start May 22, 2006
Trip End Aug 05, 2014

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Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Andalusia,
Friday, February 16, 2007

On Friday we caught the train to Sevilla and booked into the Hotel Simon (virtually under the cathedral) for the night. Once in the historic centre of the city we were entranced. The narrow streets, wee cafes and bars, and then the Cathedral. It is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and is full of priceless treasures in the form of gold, silver and paintings. I have to admit that I find the display of wealth obscene but can also admire the craftsmanship and beauty of it (damned socialist conscience never bloody leaves me alone for a moment!). It also contains the remains of Christopher Columbus in a coffin held aloft by four giant pallbearers.
Sevilla has an outdoor culture where people insist on sitting around outside restaurants to eat, even if it is bloody freezing. Needless to say we spent hours trying to find a comfy indoor café.
In 1929 the city hosted the Spanish Americas exhibition. They constructed acres of delightful gardens and a remarkable semi-circular palace like building with fountains, a moat/canal and Venetian style bridges. We happened upon this by chance while strolling through the gardens and were absolutely wowed by it.
On Saturday we visited the Hospico Los Venerables, constructed in the 16th century to look after ageing priests. It is a very calm, relaxing building with a remarkable chapel covered in painting with a gold altar. Apparently giving approval for this building and its charitable purpose helped obtain the reigning monarch sainthood - good eh!
Finally, we visited the Alcazar - the old Royal Palace (still occasionally used by the current monarch) it started life in Roman times. However most of its architecture is Islamic, from the Moorish rulers. Apparently the original Moorish ruler spent many years designing this incredible, sophisticated, beautiful building and then decided that, to keep his plants nicely displayed he would use the skulls of the severed heads of his enemies as plant holders!
Sadly, most non Moorish additions to the palace are not as spectacular, subtle or stylish. They are mostly rather over-ornate and garish. It is a very large complex of buildings and gardens.  One could easily spend a couple of days wandering around it.We were agreed that it is the most remarkable building we have seen outside the far east.
All in all Seville is a great place to visit and 24 hours is nowhere near enough time to really appreciate it.
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