Seville, Spain – The Old and the New

When we embarked on our excursions around Seville and upon our return, we marveled at the beauty and the elegance of the Alfonso XIII hotel. Who wouldn’t appreciate the accoutrements such as this love seat and window view near the elevator?



One day upon our return to the hotel, there was a throng waiting outside. We couldn’t imagine what was happening. The group was mainly young and they had books, placards, etc. with them. Curious, I asked one of the people waiting what the excitement was and learned that the cast from the Game of Thrones was at the hotel. As mentioned in an earlier post, some of the filming is done in Seville.



Along the canal close to the hotel, one can visit the Torre del Oro or Golden Tower (13th century), a medieval Arabic military dodecagonal (12-sided) watchtower.



We found beauty in many of the less touted buildings and locales in the city. I was not able to identify this structure, but the color of the building and the tiled squares were very pretty.



The nearby Palacio de San Telmo (below), once a seminary, a royal palace and maritime academy is reportedly one of the most beautiful buildings in Seville and now serves as the official residence of the President of Andalusia.



Equally enjoyable and much appreciated are those houses and buildings along the small, less formal side streets where one can find doorways like this.



Look at those carvings and colorful tiles framing the entranceway! The modern camera and card reader do not detract from the old-world visage this door portrays.

Every once in a while, visitors can look up and find beauty lurking in unusual places like the pattern created by the tiles on the roof of this church which lead the eye to the ornate top.



Just a short distance along the same thoroughfare we noticed this niche carved into the side of an exterior wall with a statue of the Virgin Mary looking down at those passing by.





Even those buildings with a less elaborate appearance have striking, colorful personalities; roof-growing weeds and all!



We were not shy about walking into doorways to view the decorated courtyards. This was a stunning example.



Like most major metropolitan areas, especially those appealing to tourists, one encounters street performers. This unique trio consisted of two dummy-heads and one real person. At times a pedestrian would pass close by and the middle head would pop up making a sound and scare the person approaching. Funny for onlookers, but perhaps not so funny for those being pranked. The customary “tip jar” is just outside the frame.



Seville has a more modern visage that we did not explore to the fullest. On our way out of town, we saw markers along the streets denoting bicycle lanes.



As we crossed the Alfonso XIII canal we saw a very modern structure in the distance located northwest of the aforementioned Golden Tower. It was the Reserve Hotel Eurostars Torre Sevilla. From what we could gather, it was somewhat controversial among the residents.



Here is the view from the bridge. Our last major sighting as we said goodbye to Sevilla.



Next we will be off to the races! Stay tuned.


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Seville, Spain – First Impressions

Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

Seville, Spain – Around Town (Sights along the streets)r

Seville, Spain – The Cathedral of Saint Mary

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Seville, Spain – The Cathedral of Saint Mary

Perhaps the premier tourist destination in Seville is The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Seville Cathedral). The construction of this edifice lasted more than a hundred years with the intention of creating a cathedral that was magnificent beyond the imagination of the day and in that they succeeded.


Exterior of the Cathedral of Seville

Like most old landmarks, there is usually some construction or renovation being conducted at any given time. We can only be hopeful that it is nothing major when we arrive.


Renovation work at the Cathedral

The Cathedral with its famed bell tower (The Giralda – pictured below) can be seen from many viewpoints near the central area of the city.


The famed Giralda, Bell Tower

There are a number of entrances to the Cathedral. We accessed the edifice through a side entrance referred to as the Door of Forgiveness.


Door of Forgiveness entrance

This basilica is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the third largest church overall. The ceilings were beautiful works of art and vaulted to more than 130 feet. Standing there looking upward, one can only wonder how they managed to create the detail and elegance on display.


Detailed architectural ceilings

Visitors will almost assuredly feel overwhelmed by the size of this structure. The picture below is of one of the side hallways and juxtaposes the very old holy building with the contemporary well-lit signs pointing visitors to some of the highlights.


Side hallway

I think it would be difficult to observe and appreciate everything there is to see in one visit. There were many people milling around and it is difficult to take photographs without the heads of the visitors seeming to adorn the bottom of the frame. We decided to focus on the highlights.

One of the beautiful altars in the Cathedral is the Altare dell’Argento or Silver Altar (of the Virgin Mary).


Silver Altar of the Virgin Mary

Another altar that was magnificent because of the ornate wood carvings, statue-filled niches and gilding was the The chapel of the Virgin of Antigua. During the period that the Cathedral was being constructed, architects tried to fill every space possible and the “fear of the void” is well demonstrated here.


Chapel of the Virgin of Antigua

The massive mahogany organ is another feature that is breathtaking in both size and exquisite detail. It would stand singularly as a work of art had it not contained the musical pipes and workings of the organ. The original organs were lost during the 1888 earthquake and subsequently replaced in 1901-03 which, in turn, have also been subsequently updated.


Mahogany organ at the cathedral

Read more about the organ HERE

Perhaps one of the most visited and coveted sights in the Cathedral is the Tomb of Christopher Columbus installed in 1899. The body of this noble explorer has taken several trips across the seas being held in Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic) and Cuba before being brought to Seville.

The tomb is a work of art with statues of four kings, each representing the kingdoms of Spain during the time Columbus was alive, hoisting high his bodily remains.


Tomb of Christopher Columbus


Tomb of Christopher Columbus

Apparently there is a dispute between where the real remains call home today. You can read about the mystery HERE

As you can see this is one of the more popular attractions within the Cathedral.


Tomb of Christopher Columbus

Before leaving the Cathedral, a climb to the top of the Bell Tower, accessed via a series of ramps, was warranted.


Bells of the Giralda

Traffic can be heavy going up and down. Adventurers will be rewarded with some excellent views of the city despite the heavily fortified vantage points. The crowds can be somewhat daunting and pushy as eager tourists jockey for the best views.


Vista of Seville from the Giralda


Vista of Seville from the Giralda

Do stop along the way to look out of the various windows and viewing nooks. Glimpses of the architecture and Cathedral structure are captivating.


Cathedral architecture from one of the ramp niches





Before we left the premises, we strolled through the courtyard where some children were enjoying the atmosphere as they sketched the scene before them.


Young boy drawing in the courtyard

You can find out more quick facts about the Cathedral HERE

Here is one more look at the exterior of the Cathedral of Seville.


Last street side view of the Cathedral

On our way back to the hotel, we enjoyed this beautiful circular garden which had street performers entertaining onlookers nearby.


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Next, we will say farewell to Seville with one last look around town.


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Seville, Spain – First Impressions

Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

Seville, Spain – Around Town (Sights along the streets)

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Seville, Spain – Around Town

We continued to be enchanted with elegance and beauty of the Alfonso XIII hotel. The heavy wood tones, mirrors and gilding of this somewhat intimate elevator made the ride up and down the few flights a royal experience.



In the first post, I presented a picture of the courtyard from the inside corridor of the hotel. Below is a photo of the exterior aspect of the distinguished courtyard.



One of our favorite “touristy-type” things to do when visiting cities that are new to us, is to walk up and down the streets to enjoy the architecture and local ambiance. Seville had plenty to offer.



We appreciate the beautiful colors of the buildings as well as the accompanying wrought iron and floral touches.



Often as we walked the avenues and pathways, we would stumble upon historic sites or markers. At the Plaza de Dona Elvira, we came across a museum dedicated to the painter Amalio Garcia Del Moral. He was born in Granada and began his artistic studies there. He was quite accomplished and was awarded a number of scholarships. He died in Seville in 1995, but shortly before his death he established a foundation to promote his artistic legacy and inspire continued exploration of the arts.

You can read more about Amalio Garcia del Moral



In any country, observers will find cultural artifacts of both past and present characteristics of the area.



The marker below denotes the place where José de Zorilla found the inspiration to write the Opera Don Juan Tenorio during his stay in Seville.



It was surprising to see a placard with the likeness of Washington Irving as we strolled along even though I was aware he wrote Tales of the Alhambra – (1832). Evidently, Irving visited Seville in 1828 as an accomplished author and became a diplomat. He stayed in the old Jewish quarter for a time near the area where this memorial is located. Irving was also interested in the history of Christopher Columbus and thus Seville was a good match for him. Who knew?



You can read more about Washington Iriving, his writings about Christopher Columbus and other activities in Spain HERE

The picture below is of an old water system dating back to the 11th or 12th century which contains pipes from the “Christian period.” These pipes supplied water to the city and the Alcazar.



Once again we found ourselves in the Murillo Gardens which is a lovely place to spend time enjoying the plants, water features and to people watch.



It is also near the street where horse drawn carriages can be hailed to take an open-air ride around town. Indeed we boarded such a carriage to travel to a special location in Seville.



The Parque Maria Luisa which is the site of the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition.



The main attraction is the Plaza de España, a semi-circular brick building with ornate and colorful touches. The towers that anchor each end of the building, much like the Giralda, can be seen from many parts of town.



The main section of the pavilion is also quite impressive. The canal in front of the building has given it the moniker “Venice of Seville.”





Along the base of the building, there are 48 alcoves with colorful tile murals, benches and maps representing Spain’s provinces.





The fountain in the middle of the large, granite tiled plaza adds another focal point to the square. Note – At times the area can get crowded.



Read more about the Plaza de España HERE

While it appears that we have seen so much in Seville, there was quite a bit more to enjoy before it was time to say adiós!


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Seville, Spain – First Impressions

Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Seville, Spain – First Impressions

In Seville, the Alfonso XIII hotel would be our home for the next several days. This historic and handsome building was refurbished in 2012 in the Andalusian style. It is stately and beautiful.

This photo shows a portion of the gallery which frames the courtyard square.


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Read more about the the Alfonso XIII hotel HERE

One of the first things we like to do whenever we arrive in a new city is to “drop our bags” and take a walk around the town. This gives us a lay of the land, so to speak, and an idea of what we might like to investigate during our visit.

As we walked in and around the area near the hotel, we came across architectural accents and gardens that drew our attention.

This fountain and street lamp combination at the Square of the Virgin of the Kings (Plaza Virgen de los Reyes) seemed to be a popular resting or meetup place and hub for points of interest.


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There were so many fascinating buildings in the central area of Seville, that it was hard to capture all of them.

Bordering the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes is the Archbishop’s Palace which has served as the residence of episcopal bishops and other dignitaries. You can probably spend weeks visiting all of the historic buildings in this area of Seville. For now, however, you can read more about the history of the Palace HERE

Horse drawn carriage rides are available at the square outside the archdiocese seen here in front of a statue of the Madonna and child.


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Although the sun was lending only a bit of light and shade covered most of the wall, the facade of the Convent of the Encarnación with a ceramic depiction of the Virgin Mary against gold tones was impressive. It is located near the Square of the Virgin of the Kings.


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Coming from the modern western world, the older styles and colors of many buildings easily caught my eye.


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The Seville Town Hall is situated around the Plaza del Triunfo which hosted a statue commemorating the confirmation that Mary was born “free of original sin” and serves as a centerpiece for a local celebratory feast. It is sometimes mistakenly called the Monument of the Immaculate Conception.


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As we walked around the vicinity of Alfonso XIII hotel, we took some sneak peaks at places we were scheduled to visit on other days. This was our fist view of the entrance to the Alcazar.


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Christopher Columbus (Christobel Colon) has a strong connection to Seville which was the port from which he and his sailors set forth to the New World more than half a century ago. There are references to, and reminders of Columbus all around town such as the Columbus monument in the Murillo Gardens (below).


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It seems that I am getting a bit ahead of myself regarding Christobel Colon; more about him “later!” The gardens have beautiful wide paths and many plants, fountains, etc. to view during a leisurely stroll.


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One of the items we noted on our list of things to visit was the Hospital de los Venerables. Once a hospice for priests, it now serves as a museum for a select group of paintings and other historic and artistic elements. Time did not permit us to go inside, but many note that this is a “must see” if you visit Seville.


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The beautiful buildings, many with ornate balconies, served as architectural exclamation points punctuating the surrounding avenues.


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Towering above most of the streets around the center of town were aspects of the Seville Cathedral (Catedral de Sevilla). There is no wonder about this as it is the world’s largest Gothic Cathedral according to several sources. Below is a quick look at the Giralda or bell tower.


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We returned to the hotel to freshen up before heading out for a quick bite on our own. While walking along some of the nearby side streets, we came across San Marco, a rather romantic Italian restaurant where we enjoyed a nice dinner and a toast to the town.


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On the return to our accommodations, we enjoyed a night time view of the famed Giralda of the Catedral de Sevilla.


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After our busy initial day in Seville, we were eager to get some rest to be fresh for our next foray.


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Merida, Spain is approximately two hundred miles southwest of Madrid and only a 3.5 hour ride from Lisbon. Tours of both Portugal and Spain often stop at this UNESCO World Heritage site to gaze upon the well-preserved ruins and monuments dating back to a time prior to the Christian era.

What makes Merida special among other cities on the Iberian peninsula is that it was one of the ancient Roman Empire’s most important cities and as such is home to numerous ruins. There are apparently more Roman monuments in Merida than any other Spanish municipality.

Just a short walk from the visitors center, the ruins become visible.

Distant view of the Ancient Roman Ruins of Merida, Spain

As we walked closer to the ancient structures, there were signs of the modern city which envelops this unique part of history (notice the rooftops and tower rising above the rim of the ancient walls in the background).


A closer view of the Ancient Roman Ruins of Merida, Spain

On the way to a central area, our guide pointed to a series of horizontal rocks (below) strategically placed in the middle of the “road.” Notice that there are three large structures that elevate well-above the surface. These served the purpose of our modern day speed bumps. Ancient vehicles would have to navigate these hindrances by slowing down to keep the wheels on each side of the middle obstacle.


Ancient Roman Speed Bumps

One of the two main attractions is the amphitheater. Visitor access is through the entry arch.


Archway leading to the amphitheater.

This is a view of one side of the circular area which is not fully restored.


Part of the  amphitheater partially restored

Perhaps this a better view from a bit farther away. The partially restored amphitheater shows the contrast between how it probably looked during the Roman Empire and how it was discovered; a then and now comparison.


A better view of the restored and unrestored amphitheater


Another view of the  amphitheater ruins

As depicted in many Hollywood films, this structure was used for gladiatorial combat. One can imagine the combatants walking through the entrance tunnels knowing what was facing them at the other end.


Gladiator tunnel leading to the activity circle of the amphitheater


Tourists walking through Gladiator tunnel leading to the activity circle of the amphitheater


 Opening of one of the tunnels leading to the activity circle of the amphitheater

With large crowds shouting for the victory of their favorite gladiator, the throngs needed a place to take care of their biological needs. A latrine area is pictured below.


latrine for attendees

As we walked through the restoration project, we noted some stones had a large “R” chiseled onto their face. The guide explained that the “R” signified that this was not an original stone, but a reproduction.


Restoration stone, not original

There were many original stones that have survived the centuries.


Many old original stones remain

Leaving the gladiator ring, we headed to the theater which is still used for summer productions.


Distant view of the theater nearby

Amid the scaffolding notice the statues between the columns. These are beautiful works of art representing this historic period.


A closer view of the theater, scaffolding and statues

Let’s take a closer look at some of these statues


Closer view of some of the statues


Closer view of some of the statues


Closer view of some of the statues

Some had names of their likeness (Tiberio Claudio Nero and Druso El Mayor)…..


Closer view of some of the statues

and Cayo Julio Cesar Agusto


Closer view of some of the statues

Walking through these old and almost unfathomable ruins, one cannot help being awestruck by the history and craftsmanship represented by these stone structures.


Beautiful ancient stonework

See a brief video of the Theater.

The areas immediately surrounding the ruins have been modernized with gardens, paths and water features. Rather than detract, they frame the Roman creations.


Light pink and purple flowers among the ruins


Gardens enhance the surrounding area

The importance of the UNESCO World Heritage site does note escape visitors as there are reminders throughout the town. This was a view from the front window of our bus. Notice the replica of a Roman column ruin at the center of the traffic circle.


Traffic circle with replica of a Roman column in the center

As with many magnificent finds such as this, there is often a yin and a yang. As the town plans for modern buildings, additional ruins are often uncovered. In many instances, construction must then stop and assessments made. This often delays, or in the worst case, cancels any renovations or building. As we can imagine, this must be very frustrating to current residents of Merida wanting to upgrade their properties.


Modern reconstruction delayed or canceled because of finding ruins

On the way out of town, we passed another impressive sight, a portion of the Acueducto de los Milagros (Miraculous Aqueduct). Only a small portion of the aqueduct bridge stands today. Many of the granite blocks were taken to be used on other structures before the aqueduct was a protected legacy.


Acueducto de los Milagros

Storks are fond of nesting atop tall structures and being an ancient, historical piece of history does not concern them. The White Stork is given protected status in Spain and many towns make sure they are cared for because they are of interest to tourists.


Storks nesting atop the Miraculous Aqueduct

Of course after such an excursion, we needed to stop for lunch. This is the Parador de Merida.


Parador de Merida - a fine lunch or dinner stop

The ride through the countryside to our next stop, Seville, was charming and picturesque.


Countryside on the way to Seville

Even the requisite rest stop provided intersting sights such as large pig legs and other meats offered for sale. One sign is for Paleta Ibérica Bellota, acorn-fed free range pigs. Interestingly enough hams from front and rear legs are differentiated: paleta is ham from the front leg while jamon would be from the rear leg. One famous producer is Fermin in Salamanca, Spain. (read more HERE)


Hams for sale at a highway rest stop

Learn more about The Roman Theatre of Mérida HERE

 

Next stop, Seville


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.