Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Making the Most of Lazy Sundays in Spain

Sunday, February 13

After my hassle-free excursion to Ronda, I was ready to travel elsewhere outside of Sevilla.  But, two realities hit me: first, many historic sites and restaurants are closed on Sunday; and second, my legs were hurting after the steep climbs of Ronda.  Therefore, I decided to stay in Sevilla, and finish the list of Rick Steves's recommended sites.

The weather was beautiful again, a perfect day for my first stop: the Torre de Oro (Tower of Gold).  The twelve-sided Moorish "lighthouse"-type fortification greeted entrants from the Guadalquivir River (which connects to the Atlantic Ocean).  Inside was a naval museum with historic pictures and murals of Sevilla.  The highlight was climbing narrow stairs to enjoy the view of city.  The best shots are of the river and toward the Centro, where the Catedral towers above all.

Archivo de Indias - My second stop was next the Catedral: the Lonja Palace (which was designed my the same architect as "El Escorial," Spain's version of Versailles).  The "Archive" holds all original documents pertaining to the conquest of the New World.  The exhibition inside explained Sevilla's prominence during Spain's golden age.  I happened to arrive just in time for a guided tour.  To the enthusiastic Spaniard that led us around (and spoke Spanish, my listening practice for the day), a dry exhibit of documents was a thrill ride.  Always nice to see someone unabashedly passionate about something.

Museo Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija - This Moorish palace blew me away.  The owner still lives upstairs, but collects income from visitors exploring the first floor.  Every room was filled to the brim with ornate patterns, mosaics, art, fantastic design, and artifacts (Phoencian, Greek, Roman, and Moorish in origin).  One room reminded me of Hadley pottery (the plates and bowls that occupy our cabinet at home).  Hadley had to have been inspired by Moorish tile work.  The courtyard was the most spectacular with its Moorish arches and Roman/Greek mosaic on the floor. 

Iglesia de Salvador - This Baroque Church is another variation on a common theme in Sevilla:  The first structure built here was Roman.  Then the Moors reformed it.  Finally, the Christians constructed a new church on top (although, in this case, only the patio of oranges remains of the Moorish site).  The altars in this church matched the ones I have encountered.  The church had especially high ceilings and an incredible dome.  Most unique was a room devoted to all things gold and silver.  I felt like a pirate discovering New World riches. 

Despite many establishments being closed on Sunday, I managed to hit some spectacular sites.  Happy to have spent a weekend sightseeing.  Now, my regular session of classes begins.  And, I have my food photography internship to look forward to next week.  See pictures of this day at: "Torre de Oro, Palacio Lebrija, Church Salvador" https://picasaweb.google.com/bradleywilliams39

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