It’s still not quite sunny here in Seville. The sun was trying to make an appearance, but the clouds have unfortunately won today’s battle. Although, I can’t complain, as it was a wonderful 24 degrees.
I also did the free walking tour today offered by Pancho Tours here in Seville. They offer a morning tour, as well as an evening sunset tour, but today I just did the morning. We had a wonderful guide, Juan (sp?), and he was an actual Seville-ien! That’s always a bonus!
I’ve already raved about the free walking tours in Madrid and Dublin, and this one is the same. I met a few people (real purpose of a free tour) and I also learned a few things (bonus).
What I learned
1. There are people (mainly women) standing in the tourist areas trying to hand you branches. I’m not sure what they are, but I learned that you DO NOT TAKE THEM. Yes, they expect money, and there have been incidents of people having their entire wallet taken!
2. There is a square where you can see the main buildings of Seville. The Cathedral of St. Mary and the Giralda tower, the Alcazar and the Gardens, and the General Archive of the Indies.
In the picture above, you can see the corner of the Alcazar on the left and then the big building on the right with what looks like a courtyard in the middle, I’m 90% positive that’s the archives. Bored yet? Yeah, I was too. But then I learned something!
A) the cathedral was first a Moorish building!
B) The Cathedral became the main-stage (so-to-speak) during the Spanish Inquisition because Seville was a place where Jews, Christians and Muslims were all living in peace together. The Catholic Church wanted to make a statement.
C) Seville was the main ‘port’ during the Era of Gold (after Columbus ‘discovered’ the Americas).
D) The Cathedral of St Mary was used for trading, prostitution and general socializing during this time because of it’s cold, dark rooms (it gets really hot in Seville), and the traders liked it because it was considered a building of the Pope, so the taxes were lower!
E) The archive building was intentionally built to move such activity, but traders didn’t go because the taxes were higher.
I hope you understood some of that.
3. The next picture is of a building (I don’t remember the name) that was built by a very rich man who was trying to repent for his sins. He became rich by trading Slaves, and he felt guilty. He intended this building to be a place where the poor and sick could go to get shelter and help.
Unfortunately, after the man passed, the plague came to Spain. The building was then used as a way to quarantine the sick. Therefore, anyone who entered the building was guaranteed to never come out. Sad.
4. No one is actually 100% sure why there is a tower of gold and a tower of silver. They aren’t sure how these buildings got their name.
5. The Plaza de Espana was built in 1928 before the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929. Juan said that it’s shape (a semi-circle) is meant to look like a hug facing south-west, (the direction of South America), as a symbol of apology for conquering and killing the original inhabitants of that area.
There is an amazing amount of detail in this massive square, a fountain and ‘benches’ around the circle which have artwork depicting a significant point in history for each province in Spain. Amazing art-work to look at, and I can’t wait to return.