Sunday, April 30, 2017

Santa Cruz

This week we have been staying in Seville's old town in the Santa Cruz. It is the old Jewish Quarter. Some of the churches were once synagogues. After Ferdinand III conquered the city from Muslim rule, he turned is attention to the city's Jewish population. In 1492 all jews were expelled from Spain,

The Barrio de Santa Cruz is a labyrinth of cobbled streets and alleyways so narrow that two people can't walk side by side. The narrow streets provided shade and protection from the oppressive summer sun. There are centuries old gardens inside the walls of the Real Alcázar and around them. Walking the streets we can peek in and see lush courtyards through doorways and there are scores of small squares lined with tapas bars.

The Callejon del Agua, a narrow, laneway follows the Alcázar garden walls and is named after a watercourse which ran along the top of the wall and brought water to the palace grounds.. At the end of it is Plaza Alfaro which they claim was the inspiration for the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet.

Our street, although it is wide enough for a car, you have to look before stepping on to the street because if you step out and one is coming it could be game over. It has a sharp turn a few door down from us that narrows the street to 1.7 metres wide.

There is evidence of the Roman occupation everywhere. Three stone Roman columns from Hadrian;s time still stand in a courtyard not much more than a stone's throw from where we are staying. There are ruins dating back to Julius Caesar. It is against the law to disturb these artifacts so old millstones and bits of Roman columns are integrated into structures built much later.

Walk out of the maze of streets to what was originally an orange grove for the  Alcázar, the Jardines de Murilllo, with its bougainvillea, palms, orange trees parrots and a large monument honouring Christopher Columbus.


Ok, I don't mean the silly dance but there is a district in Seville's old quarter called Macarena which the sing, and the dance were named after. We walked over one morning, not to check out the cultural activities but to have a look at the wall.

It was the Romans, probably under Julius Caesar, who first city built a defensive wall but Moors who ruled the area in the 11th and 12th centuries, expanded it to an effective 6 km long defensive walls. It was designed to defend the city against enemy attacks but it had another purpose as well. The river, the Guadalquivir flooded frequently and the wall helped keep the water out.
Torre de Oro

It its heyday the wall had 166 watchtowers and nine gates, with a sentry path along the middle. Today only three gates remain: Puerta de Córdoba, Puerta Macarena and Postigo del Aceite.  Three towers still stand,  the Torre de Oro , near the river, the Torre de Plata  and the Torre Blanca .

Impressive still we walked the distance of what is left and wandered back to Santa Cruz.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

My Very Favorite Ceramic Piece

As I indicated in an earlier post, ceramic work is everywhere in the city. This piece however is my favorite so far.

How an ad for a 1924 Studebaker managed to last this long is anyone's guess.

Friday, April 28, 2017

What Do You Do When Your Bus Tour of Spain Only Spends One Day in Sevilla and it rains?

I think this about settles the bus tour argument. If it rains prepare for a lousy day. With a week, we can afford to have a down day. Who, after all, can complain about one day of rain after five weeks on vacation.

Looking a little bedraggled

Remind me why I want to see this cathedral

Favorite Pasta Ad Ever

Doesn't That Make You Want to Cook Pasta Right Now?

The Waffle

Near the edge of the old section of town in a more commercial area of town sits what might be the most unusual downtown structure I have seen for some time. La Metropol Parasol replaced an old market that had deteriorated to the point that it had to be torn down and the space had become a parking lot..

It was intended to add an architectural landmark to draw attention to Savilla the way that the Guggenheim Museum had to Bilbao. We are not sure it succeeded. The waffle design parasol   is a eye catching meeting place and provides shade on hot summer days however.

I have seen some impressive photographs of the parasol but I think you need a very wide angle lens to do it justice.

I bought a hat because of the sun then it started to rain
There are stairways up and into the parasol and apparently great views from the top. Unfortunately when we were there it was starting to rain and it was lunch time anyway.

Funny the things that jump out at you like the Regina Hotel across the street from the train station in Bordeaux. This is a shot looking down Regina Street in Sevilla.

Regina Street

Plaza de Espanya

The Plaza de Espanya was built for the Ibero-American Expo in 1928. Today it is mostly government offices. The building is a huge semi-circle with a tower in the centre. The plaza has been used as a location for several films including Star Wars - Episode 2.

Around the semi-circle, at the base, 58 benches line the facade of the main structure. Each is covered with azulejos or painted ceramic tiles and each bench represents each province in Spain.  So Spaniards can walk around and have their photos taken by their own region's offering.

It is a great place to hang out on a sunny morning. It has the requisite big soap bubble guy, trinket seller, living statue and buskers. We were joined by lots of other tourists but there is room enough to not seem crowded.

Do They Realize How Silly They Look FRom This Angle?

I Sometimes Wonder What Sort of Living You Can Make Blowing Bubbles

We resisted the opportunity to rent a row boat and cruise around the moat but we did walk around and take lots of photographs.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Real Alcazar

A couple of days ago we thought we would try to take a look at the Real Alcazar but the line stretched around the block and there was no way we were going to stand in the sun for as long as it would take to get in. We decided instead to case the joint and to figure out when the lines were the shortest. We settled on opening time, about 9:30 and it worked. Twenty minutes later we were in.

The Alcazar is a royal palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a massive garden. Originally developed by Moorish Kings you can see their architectural influences throughout.

It is almost too much for me to attempt to describe it so I an going to leave it to you to do your own internet research.

You could spend a week here before you could properly comprehend it. It its prime, what a life style it must have offered. You can just imagine wandering the gardens on ot summer evenings.

Shelley noticed that if you count the tiles on the risers you will  notice that the doorway leading from one of the courtyards into the garden narrows as you climb the stair. It makes it even more dramatic as you exit the narrow door into the garden. A simple architectural trick which seems to have been almost in today's world.

This family of ducks were heading out to feed
in the orange grove to the left 

While everyone else was trying to get an impossible shot of a small courtyard, too small to shoot even with a wide angle, Shelley found this perfect water lily in the small pond.

My friend the peacock

There must be hundreds on orange trees on the grounds.
Seville Oranges I presume.

A very odd way to tag a parrot

Sevilla and Ceramics

Seville bursts with colour.Ceramic hand painted tile is everywhere. Not only on Moorish arches and street signs but on walls, ceilings, floors, steps, benches, even bridges pop with hand painted tiles. The Moors first produced pottery here in the 12th century using techniques still being used today.

Some of the design in older tile was made by pressing clay onto hand carved wooden moulds. My notes aren't as good as I'd like but I think they are 12th or 13th century. These are rough to the touch and whole walls were covered in these tiles.

In an effort to bring some of the religious art out of the churches and onto the street religious ceramic tile murals and pieces the size of posters.

Shelley found this amazing curved ceramic piece on the corner of a building along a street. 
Before Easter in 1986, Jose Portal Navarro was acting as a costalero, one of the men carrying a paso as a part of a procession. He was doing it as a prayer for his father who had cancer. During the procession he suffered a massive heart attack and died on that street corner. The ceramic work is a tribute to him.

Trim and decoration
Risers on Stairs

On a Bench

Bridge Railings

Neighbourhoods and streets

Restaurants and bars advertised their wares.