I’ve lost count of the number of times people (and blog descriptions) have told of the beauty of Seville, Sevilla in Spanish. There’s only one way to find out,…set the controls (Senorita Heather TomTom) for the closest Aire to Seville!
Coming out of Ronda, with it’s craggy sharp pointy rocks, sheer cliff faces and scary drops over the edges of roads, the landscape slowly changes. At one point on the 375 north, there’s a distinct ‘drop from the plateau into the valley’. If you’ve ever driven from Norwich to Doncaster, there’s a bit of road just like it somewhere around Sleaford, on the edge of the plateau, the road falls away in front of you & before you, the flat-lands seem to stretch to the horizon. A couple of hours drive & we are tucked into a ‘Aire’ 2km from the centre of Seville. We didn’t get a very good feeling about it’s location, it’s in what seems to be the car park of a company that deals in car storage of all different transitional types. Hundreds of new Land Rovers, Seat Léons, & Cordobas line the port-side. Five lorries a day pour into the gate, off-load & re-load, all this just 50m away, until 22:00h, then it starts again at 07:30h…its busy! On top of that, on the other bank of the river, they are ripping up the worn out concrete from the port with 2 JCB mounted hammer breakers. But its Friday, the weekend will be upon us & all work will stop…won’t it? Errrr, NO!
Saturday morning the hammers and transporters carried on regardless, but we set off to discover Seville. We hadn’t had chance to do any homework on Seville, deciding instead to cycle into town & find the Tourist information, when we stumbled into a park…and what a park!! The Park of Maria Luisa, all laid out with neatly clipped hedges & trees, no litter & very little graffiti, this place is cared for & looked after. Too many times now we’ve come across the beginnings of something nice for the people here in Spain, but it’s just not been finished, or if it has, it’s just been left to go to pot, graffiti, litter & overgrown, but this place had gardeners & sweepers, this place got the funding other towns/cities lack. Some of the pictures may improve, as Ive now got a memory card for the little Fuji compact.
There are fountains, museums & stuff for kids to play on, but the centrepiece for this garden has to be the ‘Plaza de Espana’. We marvel at the intricate detail in every item in the park. This must have taken thousands of hours of work & millions of (Sevillians) euros to complete. What a jewel. We spend most of the warm sunshine afternoon slowly wandering & cycling around the park, all for free.
But there’s other treasures here too.
The Cathedral has an opening times plan on its website, but tends to ignore it, so I dug out my best tie & we opted for a visit to Seville’s Royal Palaces, current official residence of the Spanish Royal family. Again, originally built by the Arabs (bless em), it’s been passed from pillar-to-post over the generations, each adding their own bit. But also (as usual) the Arabs original work was far better than any bolt on bit, though the gardens were a nice 16thC addition. It’s nice to see so many Spanish school children involved in Spain’s history, coach loads of them, just a shame they were there the same day we were!
The old & the New:
There’s something very different in the message that comes across when you visit buildings dedicated to God. It’s difficult for me to explain (without upsetting anyone, but I will try). In a mosque or Alcazar, it’s all calm & peaceful, with open courtyards so the heavens can be seen & contact can be made with ‘the Big-un’. You can just instinctively tell the intricate stone carving, the replication of nature & natures products has been done out of a love of God, not out of a fear of him. More often than not, when visiting a church, Cathedral or latter-day Catholic or Christian type of house of God, I get this feeling of trepidation, a feeling of impending doom, a feeling of, ‘If I have sinned (and I have, I’ll admit it) it’s all going to end badly. Are we supposed to feel fear of God? The statue’s & effigy’s all add to the plot, why does everything have to be so huge and overbearing? …and it’s so sad, so morbid! Is it all designed to keep you down, keep you in your place? To repress sinful thoughts & actions?
In Europe, at a point in time, in history, the church had the lot. It was in charge, in power and it took all the treasures, all the knowledge and all the wealth of the land. Is that ‘What God wants?’ In the earlier days of Muslim rule, the mosque was not only a place of individual worship, but a place to discuss business, under the eyes of God. A place to meet, eat & bathe. It’s just a shame they’re not allowed to drink alcohol, or I would have been batting their team if I had to, and I would have been thrown off the Ronda bridge.
One of the 5 pillars of Islam, is to care for those that can not care for themselves. Wouldn’t it be nice if all the gold, silver, jewels & land the Catholic church amassed were used in such a way?
We loved Seville so much, we stayed the week, but we did change camps to a quieter one in Gelves.
Whatever God you bow your head to….Merry Christmas, we hope you have a nice family time.