Saturday, 20 February 2016

Saturday 20 February – Seville

Where’s Colin? He’s still in his car park right by the centre of Seville.

I’m exhausted! I always find sight-seeing and museums far more tiring than walking 20 miles, and today was a case in point.

The cathedral was first on our (very short) list of things to see, although it didn’t demand an early start as it doesn’t open until 11. An amble, via the Parque Maria Luisa, brought us to the short queue outside the cathedral’s not-yet-open gates by 10.30. I wasn’t prepared to stand and queue for half an hour, so we went off for a walk around the vast building. By footprint, it’s the third largest church in the world; by volume it’s the largest, so it took us a while to circumperambulate it, but even so it was still before 10.50 when we got back to the entrance, by which time we thought that if we were going to be killing time then we may just as well do so in the queue.

When the cathedral was planned in 1402 it was (apparently) said that it would be “a building on so magnificent a scale that posterity will believe that we were mad”. In my opinion, by being so big, it loses some of its impact, as there is no vantage point in the nearby streets where you can take in the whole of the building at once. This snap is the best I could manage.

Once the gates opened it didn’t take too long for us to get to the front of the queue, where we parted with €3 each, on top of the €9 entrance fee, in order to get an audioguide. I’m sure we wouldn’t have spent anywhere near as long inside without the latter, which included 40 points of interest.

As well as not finding the outside as striking as, say, Burgos cathedral, due to its sheer size, for me the inside suffered in the same way: it’s so vast that I thought the impact of magnificent alter pieces was diluted. That’s not to say it wasn’t a good and interesting couple of hours that we spent inside, before we took to the ramps (not steps) which ascend 35 levels to the bell platform of The Giralda – a tower which sits adjacent to the cathedral. As you might expect (particularly on a clear skied day like today) the views from up there were superb … once you’d patiently waited for a space to open up at a viewing point. I don’t know how many people were in the cathedral and up the tower whilst we were there, but it’s certainly not a place that’s lacking in popularity.

Once down in the garden of the orange trees (the only feature remaining from the mosque which originally stood on this site), we had a good view back up to the tower:

It was gone 1330 when we emerged back onto the street and I was ready to eat a scabby dog. Even so, we walked some distance from the most touristy area before we selected a tapas bar, where we placed a substantial order:

A tasty lunch! Not a morsel went uneaten.

We’ve noticed over the last six weeks of sightseeing that, as well as public buildings (like museums and galleries)  being closed on a Monday, those which charge often have a day, or half day, of the week when entry is free. To date we’ve never been in the right place at the right time, but today we finally hit it right for the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo – somewhere I probably wouldn’t have gone if we’d had to pay, but which I thought worth a look, if nothing else because it’s housed in a 14th century monastery which was restored for the 1992 World’s Fair.

The building was indeed interesting:

Hold on! Are we suddenly in Stoke on Trent? The building also has a pottery making background.

The contemporary art was far less interesting than the building.

The riverside was positively teeming with people on this fine, warm afternoon, as we walked back along it to Colin*, and the pleasure boats were busy too – a contrast to the one we saw yesterday with only half a dozen passengers on board.

We’re not quite done with Seville yet, as there are a couple more museums, just across the river from us, which I want to visit. Spending another day in Seville will, however, cause us to run into the ‘Monday problem’ as there are a couple of places 10km out of the city that I’d like to visit … but of course they are closed on a Monday, which is the day on which we would naturally arrive. So, either something has to be omitted, or we have to brace ourselves for an overload of culture tomorrow as we try to cram in two museums, some Roman remains and a monastery.

(*We left all of Colin’s blinds closed today, yet such was the sunshine that we returned to the highest temperature we’ve recorded in him yet this trip: 29.5 degrees.)

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