Monday, January 31, 2011

The Sun Arrives in Time for Catedral Visit

Friday, January 28

After our Spanish exams, we reunited in the Barrio de Santa Cruz for a guided tour of the Catedral, Sevilla's central attraction.  It was a beautiful day in Sevilla.  We have had spitting rain all week, but I am not complaining about the temperature.  It feels like Indianapolis in April, quite comfortable to me, but terrible to the Sevillanos.  The constant refrain in my host household is "Qué frio" (how cold).

Sevilla's Catedral is the third-largest church in Europe after St. Peters (Vatican) and St. Paul's (London).  It is the largest Gothic church in the world.  Now I understand.  The church contains several inner chapels, one of which is open at no charge.  The site was originally home to a Moorish mosque.  After the Christians reconquered Spain, they destroyed the structure and erected the spectacular Catedral.  Two Moorish elements remain: the Giralda Tower (Torre de Giralda) and the Court of  Oranges (Patio de los Naranjos).  The tower had been used by the Moors to call prayer over the city five times a day.  Instead of stairs, the tower contains ramps, so that the Moors could ride horses up the tower.  In the Court of Oranges, an intricate irrigation system remains.

The church was spectacular inside and out.  With my fellow students, I walked up the ramps of the Giralda Tower.  There are 34 ramps in total; they become steeper and narrower the further you go up.  My knees, already weak from hours spent walking the city streets everyday, were aching.  The view from the top is the ultimate reward.  No Sevillano building can stand taller than the Giralda.  Thus, from the top, you get a panoramic view of the city: Triana, Barrio de Santo Cruz, outskirts of the centro. 

My favorite statue within the church was the Tomb of Columbus.  Four kings, each representing the Christian kingdoms that comprised Spain (Aragon, Castile, Leon, and Navarre) carry the tomb of Columbus.  At the feet of one of the kings is a speared pomegranate, the symbol of Granada.  The city had been the last Moorish fortress in Spain.  Its fall ended the Reconquista, the period during which Columbus discovered the new world, Spain united under Christian rule, and the Golden Age began.

See pictures of the sunny Catedral day at

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