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For over 800 years the tower of Seville’s magnificent cathedral (the Giralda) stood as the tallest structure in the city, built at 103 m. Completed in 1195, it was originally the minaret of the Aljama mosque before it became the bell tower of a Christian Church. The structure took 12 years to build.
The name Giralda means “she who turns” after the weather vane on top of the tower. The figure on the weather vane, called El Giraldillo, represents faith.
The Giralda, originally used for calling faithful Muslims to prayer and as an observatory, was highly valued by the Moors. There were plans to destroy it before the Christian conquest of the city in 1248, but a threat by King Alfonso X …
Seville’s cathedral, Santa Maria de la Sede, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The cathedral was built in the 15th century (1401 to 1506 A.D.) on the site of the 12th century Aljama mosque. Portions of the mosque survive within the Cathedral’s structure, most notably the belltower known as Giralda.
Seville’s Cathedral is very popular with visitors and unless you arrive early or late, you’ll likely have to wait in line to purchase your ticket. It’s one of the most magnificent churches I’ve ever seen, and I found it well worth the wait and price of admission. While you wait in line you’ll have time to study and enjoy some of the beautiful craftsmanship adorning the …
While exploring the winding alleys and lanes in Seville’s old Jewish quarter of Santa Cruz, one of the people showing us around suggested we stop for a snack at a small tapas bar. We were all game because it looked like an interesting place.
Founded in 1870, Las Teresas has been run by the same family for almost a century. Las Teresas is what a typical, traditional tapas bar feels like and I was charmed by it. There are, of course, a number of Iberian hams (jamón) hanging from the ceiling. I loved the old feel to the place and how the walls were plastered with memorabilia. The food we tried was extremely good. The service was friendly and the clientele …
One of the most popular attractions within Seville’s fabulous Cathedral is this unusual tomb, constructed in honor of famous resident, Christopher Columbus. The great 15th century explorer, widely celebrated for his successes, died in poverty in Valladolid. The tomb itself is more recent, from 1892, with statues of four royal bearers carrying the suspended tomb.
Columbus traveled far in life but likely even further in death. Posthumously his remains have journeyed from Northwestern Spain to Seville, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, the USA and finally back to Seville. With all that travel, one might begin to wonder if this is indeed the remains of Christopher Columbus, but recent DNA tests were pretty convincing that this tomb does hold Columbus remains.
(Click on thumbnails …
A very popular snack in Madrid, especially for those nursing a hangover or having developed hunger pangs while waiting for a typical late 11 pm dinner, is the classic combination of hot chocolate with churros (a churro is a Spanish fried dough treat much like a donut). Arguably the best hot chocolate and churros in Madrid is found at Chocolateria San Gines, just off the Calle Arenal pedestrian zone of Puerta del Sol in Central Madrid.
Chocolatería San Ginés has been around since 1894, and it looks about the same as it must have on its opening day more than a century ago. The walls are lined with photos of local celebrities and even a few you might recognize.
You’ll be served cups …
One of the finest food markets I’ve ever visited, and supposedly one of the best in the world, is the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, usually just called “La Boqueria“. It’s one of Barcelona’s most popular tourist spots — so much so that group tours are no longer allowed inside. You, the independent traveler, are welcome! The market is just off the popular pedestrian mall, La Rambla, not far from Barcelona’s opera house. A iron gate frames your entrance to the very diverse and fresh selection of food items within.
The first mention of the Boqueria market dates to 1217, when tables were installed near the old city gate to sell meat. From December 1470, a pig market was …
Situated beside and overshadowed by the vast and magnificent La Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona is a small schoolhouse built more than a century ago.
The Sagrada Família Schools (Escoles de la Sagrada Família) building was constructed in 1909 by Barcelona’s favorite son, architect Antoni Gaudí. The school was made for the children of workers building the cathedral, although other children from the neighborhood also attended. When construction of La Sagrada Familia cathedral began, it was at the outer edge of Barcelona making it hard for the worker’s children to walk to school — hence, Gaudi’s motivation to built the school near that cathedral during its first phases of construction, as you can see from these photos in this …
The Roman bridge is in the historic center of this Andalusian city in southern Spain, very close to the fascinating Mezquita (mosque that has been converted to a cathedral). The Romans built a bridge across the Guadalquivir river in the 1st century BC, possibly replacing a wooden structure that previously spanned the river. The Via Augusta, a road which connected Rome to Cádiz, likely passed through here. The bridge was long admired for its beauty and solid construction.
The bridge has undergone a number of reconstructions and today likely bears only minimal resemblance to the one the Romans built. After Moorish reconstruction, the bridge we visit today has 16 arcades, one less than original bridge, with a total length of 247 …