Posts Tagged ‘sevilla’

Seville’s Mixed Muslim/Christian History

April 27th, 2008 at 10:23 am (AST) by Jake Richter

Due to something I ate earlier in the day on Friday and a mild fever, I slept very poorly and felt unwell for much of yesterday. That, however, did not prevent me from heading out to tour areas near our hotel, including the Real Alcazar (pronounced Al-ka-ztha), a former Moorish palace and college which had been taken over by the Castilians back in the late 1400s and converted over to a Spanish/Christian palace for Emperor Charles V.

The Alcazar was somewhat reminiscent of the Nazarid Palace at the Alhambra although on a much larger scale, with amazing Islamic scroll work over most of the buildings, with bits of classical European Christian Renaissance architecture and ornamentation.

We also were fortunate to be able to see an exhibit of Ottoman calligraphy, which involved a number of forms of illuminated Arabic writing, used to record the suras of the Koran, as well as issue imperial documents. These documents, known as Fermans (imperial decrees), Berats (imperial grant), and Mensurs (imperial appointments) would be headed by incredibly ornate imperial monograms associated with a particular Ottoman Sultan – these monograms are called ‘Turgas’.

After a late lunch we toured the massive Catedral de Sevilla and the associated La Giralda bell tower, which we climbed via a ramp with 35 landings (all numbered) and a set of stairs out to where the bells were (as well as a great view of all of Seville). It should be noted that the cathedral was built over a mosque, and consecrated as a cathedral in 1248. Some of the architectural elements of the mosque are still visible today.

We wandered about via narrow streets for a while before getting some gelato (ice cream has become a part of our daily ritual). After a short break at the hotel during which Bas tried the (cold) pool, we wandered back into the surrounding neighborhood to have a tapas dinner and enjoy an hour and a half of Flamenco dancing at Tablao El Arenal. It was quite an emotionally charged performance, featuring three guitarists, four singers, four female dancers, and two male dancers. Bas was too tired to take it all in, but the rest of us found it wonderful, especially considering the intimate size of the restaurant. And I finally was able to eat and feel good after being unwell earlier, which made the performance even more enjoyable.

After a stroll home, with a requisite stop for pastries, coffee, and tea, we settled in for solid slumber.