Day 373 - Speechless in Seville

Trip Start Nov 07, 2010
Trip End Jan 01, 2012

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Flag of Spain  , Andalusia,
Monday, November 14, 2011

After spending the last three months in Europe, you'd think I’d grow weary of the monotony of travel, the incessant and unceasing stream of cobblestoned old towns and grand gothic cathedrals. I have to admit there’ve been times when I felt that I had seen it all, from the castles of Prague to the iconic monuments of Paris, the bustle and beauty of Barcelona to the pristine orderly streets of Zurich, but just when I seem on the verge of fatiguing from it all, satiated and overburdened with epic elaborate steeples and cavernous great halls, something comes along and leaves me completely in awe, speechless at the sight of something so unfathomable, so beyond human thought.  Here in Seville, after visiting two similar Southern cities of Spain, I came across such a thing.  In Cordoba they had the King’s Gardens - lush, mazelike and serene.  At Granada, the sacred and cherished citadel of Al Hambra, considered one of the most spectacular fortress in all of Europe.  Here though, in the capital of all of Andalucia, there was something special, something infinitely grand.  You can see its spire above the rooftops from a distance as you get nearer to the palace grounds.  A statue of a female goddess holding a weathervane and ushering her body north caps a solitary stone tower.  Rounding a corner and entering a picturesque old square, all buildings give way as if laid humble and bare by the mere proximity to its greatness that they’re fortunate to share.  Standing majestic and solitary, crenulated and domed, embellished and elaborate in all of its subtle intricacies, surmounted the grand Cathedral of Seville upon the pavement below.  It was a maelstrom of spires, a mountain of brick walls, a forest of columns and a lesson in masterful skill.  Each side of this great structure was rich with decor, down to the finest detail.  The closer you walked to the sharp ochre stone, the more patterns and artwork popped out from the walls, like the invisible veins of a living organism, hidden from afar but seen clear up close in the light of day.  We found our way to the great oak doors that served as an entrance for bishops and popes from long before, and purchased three tickets to wander inside.  Through a narrow dark hall, capped with an ageless stone archway, the dimness of the passage evaporated into golden rays as we rounded a corner and entered the great belly of the massive cathedral.  Huge stained glass murals let in shades of glorious light that illuminated the towering stone pillars and echoed off the wide empty space in the hollows of the ceiling.  The great hall was so cavernous, it made you feel like a speck, a nothing, a peon, an insect buzzing helplessly in the scheme of this ancient marvel.  Steps knocked off cold stone walls and reverberated around the interior like death’s impending call.  Everywhere you looked, one ancient artifact to the next - the cool brass pipes of the ethereal organ, like smokestacks shooting an arrows course straight to the heavens, ornate wooden carvings of ecclesiastical scenes framed in stone and brick, the hovering glow of red and blue shaded beams, and the focal point of all this exaggerated tribute, the priest’s pulpit dripped in gold more extravagant than all others.  To gaze at the holiest center of the church, you peered through massive gilded gates that evoke the passage from Heaven to Earth.  It’s almost as if you’re peering through St. Peter’s arch himself, ready to be judged and proclaimed worthy of salvation or deemed to an afterlife in hell.  Every symbol, and monument, and ornate lavish structure was crowned with a cross to erase any doubt as to the identity and origination of this church.  It wasn’t always that way though, as religion tends to be.  This used to be the site of a great mosque when Muslims ruled this territory, but much like the rest of the kingdoms that saw their share of the Crusades, Christianity steamrolled through the country and converted any sites they could reclaim.  So now this grand monument, this tribute to god, stands here eternal, epic, awe inspiring, like an undying flame in the dawn.  I know someday soon I’ll return to the serene shores of Spain, but until then this lingering image of gilded cathedrals larger than life and wrapped in stone is enough to keep the memory with me.

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