Sevilla – A City of Happy People

Sevilla’s streets do not form an orderly grid. Instead, the undisciplined tangle of pathways and arteries meanders and curves unexpectedly. A traveller should not think that she will continue on course along a particular cardinal direction when stepping into a street. Navigation can be frustrating and GPS does not always work well due to the impediment of buildings and narrow streets. However, there is an advantage to this seeming disorganization: an irregular pattern of streets produces many leftover spaces that become wonderful public plazas. The narrow streets and low buildings of Sevilla guarantee that such neighborhood areas are relatively small and intimate. The plazas are a boon to the inhabitants of the city, whether regular citizens or tourists, and they fill up in the late afternoon with occupants of café tables, chairs or park benches. Residents no doubt have learned to treat open public spaces as if they were their own backyards and people mingle in a heterogenous mix of men and women of all ages including children and the elderly, as they are simply neighbors. The lesson from environmental psychology is that the physical setting can help build community.

Religious symbols are on prominant display in Sevilla, with murals of the Virgin painted on the exterior walls of many churches. The murals are beautiful and well-maintained. They remind us that Semana Santa, with its religious festivals, is right around the corner.

The corner building with the striped, onion-shaped dome seen from a distance and up close in the second photograph is the Edificio La Adriática. This structure was built at the beginning of the XX century, incorporating eclectic styles including Moorish-inspired design.

At the Plaza San Francisco by the Seville City Council building.

The Barrio Santa Cruz, or the old Jewish Quarter, shows few indications of its Jewish past. The colorful, narrow and winding streets were full of tourists.

Decorated patios are everywhere and residents compete every year for the fairest of them all.

The imposing Sevilla Cathedral is the site of the tomb of Columbus. According to our guide Miguel, the remains of Christopher Columbus are scattered in several locations (including Cuba and the Dominican Republic).

The magnificent Alcázar of Sevilla should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Notice that the next two photos are of the same chamber (lower part of it and the upper part with the ornate ceiling) where scenes of the Kingdom of Dorne were filmed in the Game of Thrones. Watching clips from Dorne on YouTube is useful for aiding the imagination in generating images of what it could have been like to live in such an opulent space, with furniture, some decorations and other people relaxing languidly. Instead, in reality, one is among tourists gaping at the fantastic tiles, arches, and mosaics in an otherwise empty space.

The dreamy gardens of the Alcázar appear in the Game of Thrones as the Water Gardens of Dorne. There is a maze and pavilions to explore, as well as a gallery for strolling and admiring the gardens from a higher vantage point.

The Underground baths of the Alcázar are really atmospheric.

The Hospital of the Sacerdotes Venerables (venerable priests) is now a museum and the location of the Velázquez Society. What a beautiful place to spend one’s golden years, with a chapel for worship (including a gallery for those who could not make it to the ground level) and interior courtyards.

The Palace of the Countess of Lebrija contains artifacts from the Roman city of Itálica located in Santiponce just outside Sevilla. Countess Lebrija was the first woman to receive an art degree from the University of Sevilla. She spent her fortune collecting art and architectural pieces from sites that were being demolished, such as Itálica. She preserved and catalogued everything painstakingly. The mosaic floor in the photo was brought from Santiponce and plopped down in her palace. At first I found this to be shocking, but our guide remarked on the fact that these artifacts would have been lost otherwise.

The huge wooden structure referred to as setas or mushrooms is worth visiting. We found it to be lively and full of young people enjoying the late afternoon.

We chanced upon a Latin American festival with dancers in costumes all aiming it seemed for Plaza Nueva. Would there be awards and speeches? We could not stay and find out.

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