It’s been over a week since my three-day trip to Sevilla but I still feel that the experience is fresh in my mind. To sum up: Sevilla was possibly one of the most interesting, fun, and meaningful places I have visited. I have very little hesitation in saying that I thought it was far more intriguing than Cordoba. I had the opportunity to visit a variety of places: the Royal Palace, several cathedrals, the Giralda, several museums, in addition to a number of other sites. One thing about Sevilla that immediately caught my attention was the way in which the Roman legacy in Spain exerts itself so powerfully…a legacy which is actively promoted, almost to the exclusion of the Muslim heritage (which is, unfortunately, relegated to a far minor position than is just). Anyways, ranting about the downplaying of Muslim heritage is not my intention here (that’s what books are for!). Here are a few snapshots with a little description of the places I visited while in Sevilla.
Catedral de Santa Maria/Giralda
This used to be the former Grand Mosque of Sevilla, but in 1248 was reconsecrated as a catehdral, not unlike all the other grand mosques across Spain which were converted into Christian use following a city’s conquest. The minaret is particularly interesting, since it was constructed in 1198 by the Almohads to commemorate their victory at Alarcos against the kingdom of Castile-Leon. Its massive size and structure scream victory! Interestingly, it has a twin–almost identical–at the Kutubia mosque in Marrakesh (Morocco). Today, the Giralda is a belltower but still has the same grandeur and powerful demeanor as it had in Islamic times. The Catedral itself is the burial site of Fernando III, the patron saint of Sevilla, who was the conqueror of most of al-Andalus (including Cordoba and Sevilla) in the early thirteenth century. It is also the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. The remains of Christopher Columbus are also interred here.
Iglesia del Salvador
This was another of the major mosques in Sevilla which was converted into a cathedral in the thirteenth century. It screams to the power of the Christian faith and, like many churches in Spain, has a very counter-Reformation touch to it.
Sevilla is one of the oldest inhabited cities in Spain. As such, it has a very long history and also a very rich present, serving as the capital of the autonomous province of Andalusia. Much of its reputation (and wealth) is due to its importance in Roman times, its central importance in al-Andalus, and its importance as the center from which Spain controlled its vast empire in the Americas.