Day 7: Seville
The fourth largest city in Spain and the capital of Andalusia, Seville is the site one of the largest Christian temple in the world. The Cathedral was built atop a Mosque whose minaret was converted into the bell tower, the Giralda (pictured, left), the city’s most famous monument. Inside the Cathedral one can find among other things Christopher Columbus’ tomb as well as a magnificent Retablo Mayor (altarpiece).
Surrounding Seville’s Cathedral, one can visit the Archive of the Indies where the Carlos III decided to store all the documents related to the conquest of the “Indies”, take a stroll through the streets of the once Jewish neighborhood of Santa Cruz, or go to see the Real Alcázar, another expression of Spain’s Moorish influence with its Mudéjar architecture reminiscent of Granada’s Alhambra.
Today was a great day in Seville. Many of my fellow travelers went to see a bullfight. Bullfighting in Seville is a traditional game in the region. It consists of two Matadores and six bulls. Each Matador gets three bulls to kill. I asked the question to a local person in Seville about what they do with the bulls when they are dead. They donate the meat to local orphanages. This was an experience that brought chills to my body. I am an advocate for animal rights. Bullfighting is not a sport that I enjoy watching. The show lasted two hours and 15 minutes. Bullfighting is a seasonal game.
Hola and Greetings from Spain ---
Spain has some gorgeously beautiful mountains, most of which are covered in olive trees, a main staple of the Spanish diet. Everywhere we traveled we saw olive trees. In the low lands the olives are harvested with huge machines which shake the olives to the ground but on the mountainsides it is the job of the people to harvest the olives as it is too dangerous to take the huge equipment up the mountains. I did notice that very little grass was seen in the countryside due to do the olive trees, yet in the city, parks were prevalent and hundreds of people appeared to enjoy themselves playing or resting upon in it.
Another thing I’d like to comment on were the bullfights and the arena in which they are held. When we visited the arena, I snapped a few really good pictures of the arena. Later, we were given the choice of attending a bullfight that evening or having free time. I am not much of an animal activist but I do like dogs and cats so I abstained from attending the actual bullfight. During the tour, I did ask about the torture the poor bulls were forced to endure before ultimately being killed. Pablo was our tour guide for the day and he assured me that it is illegal to harm the bulls in any way prior to the actual fight occurring but did say that in the past, many bulls were harmed or aggravated for quite a while prior to entering the ring, most likely to ensure a better show for the people once the matador and bull were in the ring. I guess if any of you ever visit Spain, the decision to attend and watch a bullfight will ultimately be on your shoulders.
Another aspect which I feel is relevant about the Spanish culture is the sense of being together. Most people live in or near the cities. Hardly anyone owns a “home” as we know them in America. Most live in condos or apartments. Those who farm the land, don’t actually live in the countryside but rather they have small “holdings or dwellings” in which they stay during planting and harvesting season.
Although in America most people live in cities, our reasons are quite different than those of the Spaniards. We live in the city due to our jobs… easier access, easier transportation, more accessibility to the things we want or need such as the thousands of malls, grocery stores, movie theaters, and entertainment; whereas the Spaniards choose to live in cities to be closer to each other because they have a stronger sense of community and well-being for each other than most of the Americans I know.
For the most part, the Spaniards are a very loving and welcoming people. They go out of their way to accommodate sightseers and tours are a major source of income for Spain. The gypsies who performed the flamenco dance we attended were wonderful but the ones who worked in the streets were quite determined to earn their income. Several of us had a hard time telling them no when approached by them to have our fortune told.
During our travels we have visited Toledo, Granada, Cordoba, Ronda, Seville, and Madrid as well as several other small towns along the way. The churches, cathedrals, castles, and mosques we visited were awe inspiring at times. The current king and queen’s palace was beyond belief for this down-home kind of girl. I will never forget this trip or the people and cultures I encountered and will definitely refer back to the trip as a wonderful experience that I wouldn’t have changed if I could have done so.