The day after Gibraltar we moved to the port of Cadiz. From Cadiz I took an all-day excursion to see Seville — or at least get the flavor of Seville as it was a two hour bus ride both directions and we had an early 4:30pm call to leave Cadiz. That left about five hours in the city: four to explore and one for lunch.
The area between Cadiz and Seville is agricultural. Fields and fields of green roll across the landscape. We left before sunrise and there was a fog lifting off the fields as the sun rose. I managed to get a nice sunrise shot with the ball of the Sun shining through the fog; all through a bus window. See photo one.
We were let out of the bus at the old Jewish quarter of Seville. The area is now a warren of narrow streets and walks with shops. We walked through and made our way to the King’s Castle: Real Alcázar Sevilla. The Alcázar has a history of more than a thousand years behind it. The palace reflects the tide of history that has flowed over the area. Consisting of Moorish style buildings and gardens the Alcázar was later adapted to the Christian rulers who conquered the Moors. Instead of building a new palace, the later kings just adapted the existing palace to their liking. You can see areas where original tiles where removed so new sculptures of lions and other European kings’ symbols could be added. But, the basic Moorish design remains and is a refreshing change from the larger, more rambling castles of central Europe (see photo two which also gives you an idea of the number of people I had to contend with in my photography).
Photo three shows the open plaza in the center of the palace. This is a vertical panorama as I could not get into a position to take a single shot with the water reflection (did not bring a very wide angle camera). Areas such as this were used for cooling in the summer as well as waiting areas for guests and private gardens for residents of the palace.
We left the palace after our tour and had a brief free period while our guide went to get the entrance tickets to the cathedral. The cathedral here is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and third largest overall. Once inside the size and non-standard layout overcame all of us with a sense of awe. The cathedral started out as a mosque. When the Moors were thrown out of Spain the Catholic kings decided to convert the mosque to Christian use and it was so consecrated. Areas were changed and decorations added but the overall design and structure did not change.
We only had about a half hour to visit the cathedral; not nearly enough time to get anything other than the flavor of the place. I could spend a week there and probably still not see/photograph everything. One of the features that draws people to the cathedral is that it is supposed to be the burial place of Christopher Columbus (photo four). I say “supposed” because it’s not certain his body is there. After Spain turned on Columbus he said that he wanted to be buried in San Salvador and never to be buried in Spain. It’s understood that he was buried in the new country initially. At some point in time his remains were said to have been exhumed, cremated, and sent to Spain. Those ashes are in the cathedral and technically he is not buried in Spanish soil because the ashes are held above the soil in the cathedral. Our guide pointed out however that there were about 400 grams of ashes and the authorities had them tested some time back. The results indicated a 70% probability that the ashes were human but that’s all. The scientists took 300 of the 400 grams to do those tests. So, if Columbus is in the cathedral, there isn’t much of him there. 🙂
From the cathedral we walked back through the Jewish quarter to the bus and drove a short distance to a restaurant for a lunch of salad, chicken, potatos, eclairs and wine. Diagonally across the street from the restaurant was the Plaza de Espana, a rather large building. We walked over and were all wondering why as we entered this plain-faced building. Going through to the other side however put us into a very large open plaza that clearly is used by the public as a park and meeting place (see photo five panorama). Quite a surprise but beautiful.
After a short visit we left Seville for the two hour bus ride back to the harbor in Cadiz. We arrived about 25 minutes late but as it was a Princess excursion the ship had waited for us. We boarded and set sail as soon as the second of our two buses arrived a short time later. (See the itinerary change entry before this one.)