Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
111Trip End Ongoing
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Our first evening here we decided to simply stroll the streets and soak it up. Seville is full of old buildings and narrow alleys that define old world character and charm. We passed random violinists and accordian players as we walked through the old town. It is like they were just waiting for us to walk by so they could make us feel the Seville vibe.
After our brief introduction to the city, we headed for an Irish pub to watch the rugby world cup semifinal between France and England. It seems that old rivalries were re-ignited as some of the fans in attendance were a little too confrontational ("you and me outside" was heard more than once..
England won and we left the surprisingly large number of English tourists to celebrate with their fellow country folk. The next morning we headed to Reales Alcazares, the afforementioned Moorish compound built to look like the Alhambra in Granada. It is quite an impressive place with its gardens, fountains, lavishly decorated rooms, and elaborate tapestries, but on the whole, doesn't compare to Alhambra. However the famous "Salon de Embajadores", dating from 1427 is more beautiful than anything we saw at Alhambra. From there we strolled through the Barrio de Santa Cruz, the old Jewish quarter. It is filled with tapas bars, quietly hidden plazas, and architecture that is reason enough to visit. We found our favourite spot and hunkered down for a traditional Spanish dinner of Paella and Spinach Souffle. From there, we headed back to the Irish pub to watch the other semifinal rugby match between South Africa and Argentina (South Africa will play England next week in the final by the way). On our way we came across a religious event of sorts where a golden altar covered in candles was being paraded down the main street by the Cathedral. We don't know what the occassion was, but it was packed with people and quite the impressive site (we later found out it was the 450th anniversary of something - that is all we could translate from the Spanish paper)
The next morning we headed to the Cathedral. The largest Gothic building in the world, and the third largest cathedral (23,500 sq metres). It was started in the 1400s and took over 100 years to complete not including the subsequent decades of renovations and additions. The stated goal of its architects was simply this: "Those who come after us will take us for madmen". It has quite the presence. It has about 30 chapels inside, the tomb of Christopher Columbus, a treasury that is full of gold and jewel encrusted artifacts, and the major landmark in Seville, the La Girdalda, a 100 metre high bell tower. The tower was built by the Arabs in 1198. When the area was conquered by the Catholics, they found it too beautiful to destroy so they removed any controversial pagan symbols and added catholic ones. Needless to say a 'quick' visit will still take an hour. We are not sure what is more impressive, the Cathedral itself, or the fact that at one point the church was powerful and influencial enough to build such a place. Amazing.
After climbing the tower and taking in the views, we decided to end the site seeing for the day there and headed to the old town to check out some of the shops. After enough window shopping to almost make us cry, we headed back to our watering hole for dinner and a pint. Seville has been incredible, and just when we thought Spain couldn't get any better! Keep the streak alive Barcelona!