Time now to go to Seville, home of flamenco (depending on who you talk to). Gaynor and I headed straight for the famous Real Alcazar, a Christian palace primarily built for King Pedro the Cruel of Castile in the 1360's by Moorish craftsmen. This is a great place to visit after having seen the Alhambra in Granada because it has similar arabesque work but is much younger and so has much of the colourful splendour the Alhambra WOULD have had. The Salon de Embajadores was one of the best examples of the coloured tiles and painted arabesque arches and the high dome with gilded stalactite work was truly breathtaking. It caught and reflected the light very well.
Not only is the palace full of gorgeous architecture and detailed ceilings it also has a few displays. The first was a series of historic fans many delicately painted but some made of lace as well. I was particularly interested in one whose card said it had a small vial for poison attached to it (though I couldn't spot the vial). Makes you wonder what kind of woman owned the fan though doesn't it? They also had a display of some of the
In The Salon de Embajadores of the real Alcazar.
tiles dating back centuries. It was interestin gto see this early on in the visit because as you wander the gardens you can see how many different eras are represented.
We also discovered a seperate set of royal rooms which you pay an extra 4 euro's to see which are fully furnished. You walk through the beautifully ornate rooms in a 20 minute period with your little audio guide. Sadly you can't take photo's. It's definitely worth a look though. There are some beautiful paitnings and tapestries and I fell in love with a french gold clock.
After the Real Alcathar we headed to the Museo del Baile Flamenco (a flamenco mueum) which talks itself up as being unique and the first flamenco museum. All I can say is that it's great if you're looking for fancy technological displays without much information. There were hardly any costumes and far too many videos of people just dancing. Later on in the night though, I returned for their Friday night flamenco performance and THAT was definitely worth seeing. The show consisted of two flamenco guitarists, two singers (if you could call their impassioned wailing singing) and two dancers (and the
Queens private Baths
In the Real Alcazar.
guy was gorgeous!). Each dancer had a solo and they did two dances together, showing a range of different flamenco styles. These were interspersed with musical pieces. It's amazing how strong and passionate flamenco is. It's impossible not to get swept up in the movement and emotion. Though I did find myself wishing I could understand the wailing. I stayed in a hostel that night and headed back into the city on my own the next day.
Day two: first stop was the Palazo de Espania. Originally built for the Hispo-American Fair in 1929 it's an impressive plaza with intricately tiled benches which each show a town in the Seville provence (their provinces are the equivalent to our states). After taking WAY too many pics of this area I headed into the nearby Museum of Art and Popular Culture. This would be a fantastic museum if they had any of the displays in English as well. They have a whole section of displays showing the various traditional ways of doing things like painting ceramics and other things to do with industry and farming. I had no idea what I was looking at though. There was also a large collection
of gorgeous lace work. As I didn't have to pay entry here it was interesting for a quick look but I liked the outside of the bulding itself more than anything inside.
Finally I headed down to the Seville Cathedral which I was especially interested in because it was originally the 3rd largest cathedral in the world. In recent years they're carefully measured its square meters and discovered it's actually the LARGEST in the world. I've already seen St Paul's in London and St Peter's in Rome so I was interested to see the difference. To be honest it doesn't seem all that grandeose once you're inside. May have something to do with where they're put the pillars and how many small rooms they've added. What IS special though is the Giralda tower which is the only part left of the original Moorish mosque which once stood here. The climb up the tower seems to go on forever but is fairly easy because it's all ramps rather than stairs (and you can take frequent breaks to look at various small displays on the way up). At the top you're treated to a fantastic view of Seville city.
a wander through the gorgeous Maria Luisa Park and a world fair/market I discovered neaby I did the touristy thing and spent an hour on a tour bus. Finally, I headed back to Gaynors on the train. Overall Seville is a beautiful city and well worth a few days exploration. There's plenty more to see which I never even got to.
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