12th August, 2009.
We were up early again in order to take a taxi to the railway station at Santa Maria to catch the train to Seville. The journey took just over one hour and went through some interesting country side. This part of Spain grows large amounts of sunflowers for the world. We were disappointed not to see large orange groves on our journey.
Seville is the capital of Andalusia and is a city rich in cultural heritage. Most of the principal sights can be found within or very near the city centre which is set on the east bank of the Rio Guadalquivir. The city centre is a compact maze of old, narrow streets and everywhere you look are horse drawn carriages for the tourists to enjoy a ride. Jackie was very pleased to see they were all registered with horses and carriages in very good condition.
Like most tourists we asked the taxi driver to take us straight to the cathedral. We stepped out of the taxi by a beautiful fountain in sight of the cathedral. We quickly bought our tickets and entered the cathedral. The work started on the cathedral in 1401 and took over 100 years to complete. The high altar is called the “Capilla Mayor” and is floor to ceiling of gold protected by monumental iron grilles forged in 1518-32. Santa Maria de la Sede, the cathedral’s patron saint, sits at the high altar below a waterfall of gold. The 44 gilded relief panels of the retablo were carved by Spanish and Flemish sculptors between 1482 and 1564.
The Tomb of Columbus dates from 1890. His coffin is carried by bearers representing the kingdoms of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarra. Cristobal Colon – Christopher Columbus to the English speaking world – was born in Genoa in Italy, trained as a navigator in Portugal and conceived the idea of reaching the Indies by sailing westwards. In 1492 he sailed from Palos de la Frontera and later in the same year landed on Watling Island in the Bahamas, believing he had fulfilled his ambition. Columbus made three further voyages from bases in Andalusia, reaching mainland South America and other islands now called the “West Indies”. He died at Valladolid in 1506.
We walked up the 35 floors to the “La Giralda” which is the bell tower. Luckily, the walk is a gentle slope and not steps!! The views from the tower is fabulous and maps on the four sides informs you of the sights you can see from the tower. Above the tower is a bronze weathervane depicting Faith from which it takes it name.
The orange trees in the courtyard still exist around the fountain. In Moorish times worshippers would wash their feet in the fountain before going into pray. As it was over 40 degrees when we were there I thought it was a very good idea but unfortunately the courtyard is just by the exit now!
Next we wandered to the Real Alcazar, the royal palace built in 1364 by Pedro I. The palace ground floor we were able to visit but the second floor is still used by the Spanish royal family to this day. The palace has very thick walls and is tiled, floor, walls and ceilings with beautiful tiles. The crowning glory of this palace is the wonderful gardens which appear to go on and on. The Queen of Spain insisted on an English garden and this has been completed recently.
We walked down to the river and saw the Torre del Oro, a beautiful tower overlooking the river and looking towards the city. Next we saw the bull ring but by this time we were tired and hungry so we did not pay to visit the museum but made straight for the ice cream shop and then found a restaurant for dinner before making our way back to the railway station for the last train to Santa Maria.
On our way to look for the dinner restaurant I was not amused to feel a hand in my handbag by a well dressed girl teenager with two others as I looked at postcards but thankful I was on my guard and managed to stop her before she lifted my purse.
Seville is a wonderful place to visit for a long weekend. The airport is close by and Jerez is approximately 50 minutes from the city so anyone could find lots to do especially in April when the orange blossom is out and the city would look very pretty.