Second Day in Seville
I left hotel at 8:45am. As soon as I stepped outside, the street was full of crowd. I wondered what was going on? It turned out that there was a school on the corner. Its name was Colegio Maria Auxiliadora. It was nice to see parents had their kids in tow and bringing them to school. Few kids had their lunch boxes in their hands. I turned right to come on the main road. On reaching Cartuja Bridge, I saw a French school named Lycee Francais School. While I was passing, I saw a girl on bicycle coming from the opposite direction. Then all of sudden a guy came from the street on left hand side. He didn’t see girl coming. He hit the brakes hard and bicycle slipped and hit girl's bicycle. No words were exchanged. The guy stood up rode the bicycle and moved on. It was like nothing had happened. Poor girl was in shock she wasn't expecting anyone coming to her with that speed. I came to Puente Izabella; it is also called Triana Bridge. The sky was little bit cloudy. Torre del Orro was looking magnificent in the far distance surrounded by the palm trees. Some joggers and cyclists were passing while I was there.
Triana Market & Castle San Jorge
After crossing the bridge, I came to the right side. Triana Market was there; As soon as I entered I was met with a strong smell of raw sea food and lots of noise. Even though it was early in the Morning, the market was full of energy. This market was similar to Estranza of Malaga in style but not in structure. I came out of the market and went to Castillo de Jorge. The museum consists of the remains of the Castillo San Jorge, the seat of the Spanish Inquisition, brought to life with detailed explanations of what happened where, and to whom. Triana, the area of Seville best known for its flamenco and sailors, was also where thousands of poor souls were imprisoned over centuries - the castle served as headquarters of the “Tribuno del Santo Oficio o de la Santa Inquisicion” from 1481 to 1785, which was set up to “defend the Catholic faith”.
The Inquisition was one of the darkest periods in the history of Catholic Spain, and of Seville itself. These religious purges were largely targeted at the wealthy Jewish population, who lived in Barrio Santa Cruz. Many Muslims were converted forcefully to Christianity (called conversos), while continuing to practise their own religion secretly - these were known as marranos.
The first room was a high-tech multimedia presentation on topics such as judgement and abuse of power. Then I went downstairs, to the ruins of the castle itself, with a view to the river Guadalquivir right outside, where boats deposited visitors - lawyers, relatives and informers. This mighty waterway, which has played such an important role in Seville’s history, flooded the castle repeatedly, including the cells where the “heretics” were housed - some lucky ones even floated out to freedom.
There wasn't much about inquisition and why would they show about it? It is still a lingering question which hangs over Spanish history and its clergymen. After finishing the visit, I came out at the far end of the Triana Market. I came to the ground level via stairs. After this I crossed Triana Bridge and walked beside the bullring museum. In one of the streets was parked a tri-bike. This bike was more like a good version of “pimp my ride” rather than a factory produce.
The Royal Shipyard
Then I came to Royal Shipyard, it was hard to find entrance. While I was looking for entry door, walking on a narrow footpath, I saw a woman was coming from the opposite side and she was looking back but she kept on walking. I stood there, I couldn’t move on the left because bins were lined up there, even I beeped her, the next thing she bumped into me. She kept saying something in Spanish. Which I didn’t understand but one thing for sure, she was extremely embarrassed. Then I saw a window open of the royal Shipyard. I managed to take few photos. I walked under the El-Postigo. Turned right twice came at the other end of the shipyard. This side of the shipyard looked very rusty. It seemed that this shipyard had been closed for some times. As I found out later on that it hadn't open its door since 2010.
The Bullring Museum
This magnificent bullring is considered to be one of the finest in Spain and is one of the oldest and most important in the world. It also had a small museum inside, though I didn't get a chance to go inside.
The Tower of Abd al-Aziz (Torre de Abd al-Aziz)
I came across Torre Abd al Aziz. It is past of building now and it is very hard to spot even you are close to it.
About the tower
The Tower of Abd al- Aziz, hexagonal and best known for The Tower of Abd Al-Aziz ( Emir established in Seville from the year 714 to 719), was a wall vertex palate . The Silver Tower (located in a car park), we see on the right a residue from the walls of the Tower of the Emir of Seville, and left the wall continued toward the other tower , the Gold Tower. The tower of Abd Al-Aziz was a part of Seville's defensive wall.
From there, I came straight to Royal Alaczar. There was a queue for the tickets. I showed my pass to the security guard and he told me to go straight to the ticket desk. After getting ticket, I showed them at the entrance and come across a ruined wall, which was part of the Alcazar. Once I was inside the Puerta del León (The Lion Gate), I came to the Patio del León (Lion Patio), which was the garrison yard of the original Al-Muwarak palace. Good few people were inside the building already. When I looked back at the old wall, the view was beautiful. Especially there were few trees that seemed towering the wall and they had flowers on them. In the backgrounds was Giralda Tower standing there majestically.
This Royal Palace was originally founded as a fort for the governors of Seville (under cordovan rule) in 913; the Alcazar had been expanded many times in its 11 centuries of existence. In the 11th century Seville’s prosperous Muslim taifa rulers developed the original fort by building a palace called Al-Muwarak (the Blessed) in what’s now the western part of the Alcázar. The 12th-century Almohad rulers added another palace east of this, around what’s now the Patio del Crucero. Christian Fernando III moved into the Alcazar when he captured Seville in 1248, and several later Christian monarchs used it as their main residence. Fernando’s son Alfonso X replaced much of the Almohad palace with a Gothic one. Between 1364 and 1366 Pedro I created the Alcazar’s crown jewel, the sumptuous Mudejar Palacio de Don Pedro.
I took stairs on right hand side. Stairs were beautifully decorated with tiles and blue lines on the sides. Then I came on the first floor, there was an exhibition of tiles of different periods. King's residence was on one side. There was a guard standing there beside the security scanner and entry wasn't allowed.
Cuarto Real Alto
The Alcazar is still a royal palace. In 1995 it staged the wedding feast of Infanta Elena, daughter of King Juan Carlos I, after her marriage in Seville’s cathedral. The Cuarto Real Alto (Upper Royal Quarters), the rooms used by the Spanish royal family on their visits to Seville.
The Salón del Almirante (Admiral’s Hall) housed 19th- and 20th-century paintings showing historical events and personages associated with Seville. The room off its northern end had an international collection of beautiful, elaborate fans. The Sala de Audiencias (Audience Hall) had hung with tapestry representations of the shields of Spanish admirals and Alejo Fernández’ 1530s painting Virgen de los Mareantes (Virgin of the Sailors), the earliest known painting about the discovery of the Americas.
Palacio de Don Pedro
Though at odds with many of his fellow Christians, Pedro had a long-standing alliance with the Muslim emir of Granada, Mohammed V, the man responsible for much of the Alhambra’s finest decoration. So in 1364, when Pedro decided to build a new palace within the Alcazar, Mohammed sent along many of his best artisans. Their work, drawing on the Islamic traditions of the Almohads and the caliphal Córdoba, is a unique synthesis of Iberian Islamic art.
At the heart of the palace was the wonderful Patio de las Doncellas (Patio of the Maidens), surrounded by beautiful arches, plasterwork and tiling.The Cámara Regia (King’s Quarters), on the northern side of the patio, had stunningly beautiful ceilings and wonderful plaster- and tile-work. Its rear room was probably the monarch’s summer bedroom.
From here I moved west into the little Patio de las Munecas (Patio of the Dolls), the heart of the palace’s private quarters, featuring delicate Granada-style decoration; indeed, plasterwork was actually brought here from the Alhambra in the 19th century when the mezzanine and top gallery were added for Queen Isabel II. The Cuarto del Príncipe (Prince’s Room), to its north, had a superb wooden cupola ceiling trying to re-create a starlit night sky.
The spectacular Salon de Embajadores (Hall of Ambassadors), at the western end of the Patio de las Doncellas, was the throne room of Pedro I’s palace. The room’s fabulous wooden dome of multiple star patterns, symbolising the universe, was added in 1427. The dome’s shape gives the room its alternative name, Sala de la Media Naranja (Hall of the Half Orange). On the western side of the Salon de Embajadores, the beautiful Arco de Pavones, named after its peacock motifs, leads into the Salon del Techo de Felipe II, with a Renaissance ceiling (1589-91).
Salones de Carlos V
Reached via a staircase at the south eastern corner of the Patio de las Doncellas, there were the much-remodelled rooms of Alfonso X’s 13th-century Gothic palace. They were re-named after Carlos V.
Patio del Crucero
This patio outside the Salones de Carlos V was originally the upper storey of the patio of the 12th-century Almohad palace. The patio’s lower level was built over in the 18th century after earthquake damage.
There was a pillar dedicated to al-Mutamid ibn Abbad, who was the last king of Abbadi Dynasty (Taifa Ruler). He called Yusuf bin Tashfeen for help to fight against the Christian forces. Yusuf did come to help him and both won famous battle the Battle of Zalaca. After the victory, Yusuf exiled Ibn Abbad to Morocco, where he died in 1091.
Now I was feeling bit tired, so I decided that it was time to sit down and watch people pass by. After sitting for a while and having a can of coke, I was ready to explore Royal Gardens.
From the Jardin de las Danzas (Garden of the Dances), a passage ran beneath the Salones de Carlos V to the Banos de Doña María de Padilla (María de Padilla Baths). These were the vaults beneath the Patio del Crucero - originally that patio’s lower level - with a grotto that replaced the patio’s original pool.
A beautiful mazed garden was located at the far end of the Alcazar. After this I came to the Ave. de la Constitucion, it was getting very hot. I decided to pay a visit to burger king (it wasn't on my itinerary). It was nicely decorated interior with the rich red colour I ordered one smoothy and came back out on the street again. Whenever I passed hop-on hop-off staff (wearing their red distinctive uniform) tried to sell me tour ticket. I told them that I had already purchased the ticket. Maybe camera in my hand was to blame. I took red bus and came to the Maria Louisa Park. After getting off the bus, I crossed the road, The Portuguese embassy was on my right hand side and it resembled to a castle. There were few people (non Spanish) selling their wares on the road. It was mainly hand bags, leather belts and small toys. These guys were trying to make a living.
The Tobacco factory
I crossed Avenue El-Cid and in front of me was building of former tobacco factory. It is university now. I was looking around; I saw a guy and asked him about the visit. He informed me that it was a functional university and it wasn't allowed to visit the place. The guy who looked like a professor spoke fluent English.
About the building
The design was conceived by military engineers, the Seville University building has a moat and drawbridges. There was also a prison, used to confine workers for a short period of time when they protested against the factory rules. The Real Fabrica de Tabacos was built between 1728 and 1770. The project was designed and supervised by several military engineers. The work was abandoned for a long period (1735-50) due to financial constraints (the initial budget was clearly not enough) and because the engineers and architects in charge were not fully committed.
The factory was officially inaugurated in 1757 even though the building was not yet completed. Unfortunately, the factory was already out of date by then. It had been designed for the elaboration of powered tobacco (also called rape) but during those 30 years the cigar demand increased, replacing the use of powered tobacco.
The Spaniards were the first Europeans to see the tobacco plant upon their arrival to America. Seville had the monopoly of the trade with the whole continent and when tobacco plants were brought to Spain the industry started to flourish in the 16th century, requiring the building of factories to process them.
Initially, the factories were pretty small and distributed randomly across the city. However, it was decided to gather them in a sole facility for health reasons and to control the production. The first big factory was located in front of the Saint Peter church (Iglesia de San Pedro). But it would soon become too small, forcing the construction of a bigger new one, the Real Fabrica de Tabacos.
Until 1812, only men worked at the factory because the production of powered tobacco needed a physical strength that women didn't had. Moreover, it was socially unaccepted that men and women worked together at the same premises.
When the demand of cigars increased and the cigarette was introduced in the market the process became much more delicate. These trends caused the entrance of women in the factory. First because they were able to make higher quality cigars when manipulating the tobacco leaves. But also because their salary was considerably lower than a man's one, enabling the company to increase the workforce without raising the costs. By the end of the 19th century the appearance of new machines improved the process and the cigarreros (almost all women by then) were replaced. Finally, the factory closed in the mid-20th century.
Then I was back the stop where I was dropped off by bus earlier. There were lots of horse and carriages around. And the drivers were trying hard to get the customers. Maria Louisa Park is known for its beauty and some of the people take these horse drawn carriages to go around in the park.
Plaza de Espania
It was built because of the Ibero-american Exhibition of 1929, held in Seville. Its creator was Anibal González. He mixed a style inspired by the Renaissance with typical elements from the city: exposed brick, ceramics and wrought iron (worked by Domingo Prida). Its floor plan is semi-circular. It is dominated by 2 towers, one on each side of the enclosed area, which frame the central building where the main rooms are. Between the two towers runs a network of galleries with an arcade of semi-circular arches leading to exits in different parts of the square, where a fountain stands.
The complex is decorated with azulejos, painted ceramic tiles that are popular in Seville and can be found all across the city. The building's facade as well as a row of streetlamps and the bridges on the Plaza de España are decorated with colourful azulejos. The showpiece however is the series of 58 benches that line the facade of the main structure. The benches, completely covered with panels of azulejos, depict allegorical paintings representing the provinces of Spain.
A guy was selling hand fans on one of the bridges. He came to me and gestured with the hand that it was very hot and I should buy a hand fan. I told him that I was OK to carry on without the fan. Then I went upstairs to enjoy the view. Fountain in the middle of the square was breath taking. Some people were in the boats in the canal. I came to the opposite side of the Plaza de Espania, there was boat renting. I asked the guy about the price which was only €5 charge with another €5 taken as deposit. He told me that I needed to go the kiosk and buy ticket from there. After buying ticket I came back to the little dock. I was given a boat with two oars in my hand. Now it was going to be a challenge. If I could recall I only rode boat once before my life, let alone rowing it.
The guy pushed the boat with stick and there I was able sea-man or boat man in my case. I struggled for couple of minutes then I started to get hang of it. But boat was still moving in side way more than the middle because I was using my stronger right hand more than the left one. There was a couple in one of the boats and the girl was rowing or trying to row. The boat wasn't moving at all and guy was laughing at her inability to manoeuvre the boat. I offered her help jokingly the guy replied while still laughing, man, “We might need help very soon.”
There were two girls in another boat behind me they had only gone few meters they decided to turn back. It was a very hot day in Seville. Whenever I passed under a bridge, I stopped for a moment or two in the shade.
When I brought the boat back, there was a young boy with a stick in his hand to drag the boat in. He was barely twelve years old. Then came older guy and he dragged the boat to let me get off. Then I went to the kiosk to get the deposit back. After this I decided to walk back to the city. I kept walking beside Royal Alcazar wall and trees were on both side of the road. It was a pleasant walk but whenever there was no protection of the trees, the sun would show his power.
I came to plaza Nueva; this was where City Town Hall was located. The ayuntamiento was being renovated but it was open for the visit. The Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) of Seville was built in the 16th century in Renaissance style on the remains of the former San Francisco monastery. Then I walked straight up from there to the older part of the city. The street were covered with cloth and all sort of materiel to protect them from the direct sunlight. The shops, which were in the area had opened their doors to let cool air from air conditions onto the streets. This plan was working for sure because temperature was lower than outside.
El Salvador church
I came out from one of the streets and asked two police men by pointing at the map that I was looking for El Salvador church. They pointed to the building just on the right hand side. At the entrance, I was given a ticket after showing my Seville pass.
This church was the second biggest in Seville after main cathedral. Big altars were inside and they were decorated with all sorts of angels and stuff like that.
Construction works begun in 1674 with architect Esteban Garcia and finished in 1712 with Leonardo de Figueroa. It was based on the remains of the Mezquita Mayor, which was then the main mosque of Seville. From this Arabic building of the 9th century, still remain its Patio de Abluciones (the Courtyard of the Ablution) and the original tower.
I came back at the reception and asked girl about the patio de narajas. She told me that it was on right had side. I went there but no sign of it. I asked another person. And I was told that I needed to turn right again. There were all shops, I didn’t find any entrance. I was at the front of the church once again. I went to the girl at reception once more (probably she would hate me now). She told me that it would open at 5pm.
The Casa de Lebrija
My next destinantion was the Casa de Lebrija, which wasn't far away. After buying tickets at the entrance, I was told that I could visit the mosaics but if I wanted to go upstairs I would need to join the guided tour at 5pm. The ground floor had good collection of the elements such as Roman mosaics, Mudejar plasterwork, tiles, coffered ceilings, renaissance friezes, etc.
The style of this 15th century palace, which was rebuilt in the 16th century, was the work of Regla Manjon, the Duchess of Lebrija, who bought it at the end of the 19th century. The house has the typical Sevillian layout with a hallway and a main courtyard around which the building is structured.
A magnificent Roman mosaic featuring starred medallions, flowers and mythological motifs such as Leda, the Swan, Europa, and Ganymede offering the eagle water, is the centre piece of the courtyard. Its decoration combines a wide range of elements such as Roman mosaics, mudejar plasterwork, tiles, coffered ceilings, renaissance friezes, a balustrade in mahogany (on the staircase), etc. Mosaics were cordoned off by ropes in order to protect them but there was a small part of them where people could walk on. Probably it was one of those rare moments where one could get that close to the historical objects.
They seemed to have a function room because there were lots of chairs and table being set up beside big speakers on one side of the room. Then I came to a small patio which two dry stems of dates standing there. It was five minutes to five now, I came to the reception area. There were four more people there. Soon a young girl came over to us; she opened the stair case to let us go upstairs. Staircase was magnificent but photos were not allowed. There was a figure of Jesus made from one piece of ivory. Arms were attached later from the same material. Countess had her personal chapel as well. Priest’s changing room was inside the building, where he would change or relax whenever he would come to visit countess for the confession. In her personal library, she contained 6000 books. It is said that 2000 books belonged to her husband and 4000 were in her collection. They were in Latin, Spanish and French language. Different rooms had different themes, ranging from Oriental to African, East European or the West. She was a great fond of art and the antiques and she managed to collect them from all over the world.
After coming out of this building, came to plaza de Mayor to see Metro parasol.
There were few kids playing underneath this giant structure while some were just resting in the shade. In front of the parasol were few people selling their wares. Then came in the basement to purchase the ticket. A small elevator brought me to the top. Beautiful view of Seville was in front of me.
Giant mushrooms were in Plaza Encarnación, now known as the Metropol Parasol, where one of the most modern works of architecture has gone up in the Seville city centre. Curving handrails and broad flights of steps leads to a large platform housing cafés. The shading canopy rest on six cylindrical columns or 'trunks'. These, as well as the foundations are made of reinforced concrete. Lifts provide access to the upper amorphously shaped level where was a large restaurant and a 250 meter long walkway with breath taking views of the inner city.
The canopy was constructed of vertical laminated wood plates following a 1.5 by 1.5 cutting pattern. The assembled plates thus form a grid structure, a grillage. For safety reasons the restaurant is situated on a composite steel platform. When I was coming out. I saw some sorts of ruins inside the glass casing. I was told they were Roman ruins. I came to the area of Torre del Orro, took tour bus which brought to the Almaeda Park. I had dinner in the same Egyptian restaurant. There was a super market next to it, bought few juices and soft drinks for the next day and I headed back to the hotel.
Drive to Gibraltar
Next morning, I woke up at 5.30am. I came down to the front desk to pay for the car park which was €15 per night. I thought it was bit pricy by Spain standards. May be it was due to the fact that car park spaces in Seville were hard to come by. The guy at the desk told me to press the bell in the car park when I was ready to drive out. After coming out of the car park I turned right then I put La Linea in the GPS and took another right to join the main road which I had been walking for last two days. Then came motorway toll which had to be paid in advance. It was €7.30. It was still dark and there was very little traffic on the road.
I checked the fuel gage and wanted to fill the petrol tank. I saw a sign for a petrol station so I came off the motorway. This petrol station must have been little bit further than I had thought because I drove around and didn’t see any sign of it. So I decided to take a U turn on a small road and head back to motorway again.
Then on the right hand side, I found a petrol station, filled the tank, bought some breakfast. In the far distance, I could see Rock of Gibraltar. It was covered in clouds or Morning mist. It only took me ten minutes to reach La Linea after seeing the rock. I drove into one of the underground car park which was located next to a big round about. The parking charge was 4c per minute and €16.50 maximum. After parking the car, I came out of the basement and took right turn, walked straight to the border. It took me only five minutes to reach there.
On the Spanish side of the border, there were two Spanish police officers. They looked at me but didn't say anything. Then there was English side of the border, a British police officer was standing there and he was looking at every one who was coming to the border. There was a guy behind me the policeman told him to come on one side for questioning. After that I came to an immigration desk. The girl behind the counter asked me for an ID. I showed her the passport; she looked at it and gave it back to me.
There was bus number 5 parked already to bring people into the city. It had distinctive red colour. The price for the ticket was €2.50 return. There was a sign on one side saying that there were city maps available for €1 or £1. Few taxi drivers were about trying to secure some business. Though it was early in the Morning but border area was full of life. While I was sitting in the bus I looked at the face of the rock. This side of the rock was much steeper. In the bus, there were mainly Spanish. After few minutes' drive, the bus came to the Gibraltar's main bus station or bus stand because it had only few stands. The driver brought us to the city and then shouted “last stop”. I came off the bus along with other passengers.
The Casemates Square
I didn’t know which part of Gibraltar I was in so I used my favourite “follow the crowd” method. While I was walking, I saw few of the roads were cordoned off by the police but pedestrians were allowed to go through. I could see lots of young children gathering in one area with their parents. I asked one of the guys about location of the Casemates Square? He told me to go straight up. I reached Casemates Square with ease, the Square was mainly empty but two cafés were open and they were full of people. There was a tourist office on one side of the Square. So I went there to check the opening hours. It wasn’t open till 10am. I had 25 minutes to kill. Even though I had had my breakfast already but I was tempted by English tea which I had been missing in Spain for last few days. I found one empty table in one corner of the café and order tea for myself while Aneta decided to take hot chocolate. We both agreed to take Choro for the sake of tasting.
In front of me was sitting a family of four. They were taking in English while one of them was using Spanish language, she would speak occasionally in English. Then they were joined by another woman who was very tall with black curly hair and most striking thing about her was her eyes. They were dark green in colour unless she was wearing contact lenses. The one thing which I noticed while I was sitting there was that nearly all of the waiting staff in the café was Spanish or at least they would start communication with “Holla”.
When I asked for the bill it came to shockingly £13.90. I gave £20 note but waiter never came back with the change. I didn't have any intention of leaving tips I decided to go to the cashier and told her that I was waiting for the change. She looked at the table I was sitting then looked inside cash register and gave me the change.
Then I went to the tourist office, three girls were sitting behind a desk. I went to one of them,
Oh, Good Morning.
I need some information regarding Tour of Gibraltar please?
What type of tour you are looking for?
Upper rock tour. I said
Umm, there is no tour available today.
Oh really, Why is that?
You need to book tour in advance because only mini buses go there and they will not leave with few people on board.
That's not good news. So what are my options now?
You don't have much option. You can take a taxi tour.
And where can I catch this taxi?
I looked outside but didn't see any taxi. Where outside exactly?
Yes, outside, she wasn't happy that I was being so silly or just persistent.
Actually there is a rank in the corner if you go there and ask the driver. He will be able to help you.
OK, thanks. Can you give me a city map please?
There you go. She handed me city map half-heartedly.
Then I came to the taxi rank and spoke with one of the drivers. He told me that if there were two people the tour would cost £40 per person and we needed to buy our own tickets for the attractions. If we managed to get two more people. It would cost £22 each and entrance ticket would be paid by the driver. The second option sounded much better but we had to wait. While I was sitting there, one of the drivers came over and told me that I could be waiting for a good while because this morning was very slow. I told him that I was willing to wait.
Then two police men came on motorbikes, they were telling people and the drivers to get off the street. I wondered why was going on? Almost everyone moved instantly apart from one driver who was coming from the opposite side in a van. He asked a question to one of the policemen. The policeman told him with hand signal to move on the side but guy didn't move the van. One of those policemen became very angry. He got off motorbike and told him to move as soon as possible. Driver realised that the best bet was to move the van rather than testing policeman's patience.
The kids, who had seen earlier in a small square, were coming from one corner of the Casement Square. They were divided into smaller groups. In front of each group, there was a guy who was holding a small card with the name of a sport like, hockey, football, cricket etc. written on it. While others were walking behind him.These children left the square with the same speed as they came in. In no time, things were back to normal in the square. One of the taxi drivers stood on the street and started to ask people for the Upper Rock tour. He saw a group of tourist coming from opposite direction. The driver became little excited because all of them had maps in their hand, giving away the notion that they were tourists. He asked few of them if they were interested in the tour. As they were part of the group, all of them refused.
Within five minutes, driver saw five young tourists giggling and messing with each other. He asked them if they were interested in the tour? They were more than happy to take it. By the time van left the taxi rank it was 10:40am.