As promised, some ravings about Sevilla…
For those of you who don’t know, I was choosing between studying abroad in Sevilla or Granada and it was quite the choice. I got input from just about everyone who had ever been to Spain (seriously), and it was pretty much a 50/50 tie with a few more impassioned voices for Granada. Really, most people replied that I couldn’t go wrong with either.
After spending now two weekends in Sevilla, I am glad that I chose Granada…but probably not for the reasons you think. I will say, I did hear more English in Sevilla than you typically do in Granada, and so that’s a plus. Mostly, I am happy I chose Granada because of how much I immediately loved Sevilla.
Lined with palm trees, colorful buildings, horse-drawn carriages for tourists, and situated on the Guadalquivir river, Sevilla emits a sense of European romanticism with a Spanish flair. Pretty quickly, I realized that one of the reasons why I liked it so much and felt so comfortable there was because it had a lot of the same ambiance as Charleston. Much bigger, more Spanish, but otherwise…..
Again, palm trees, colorful buildings, horse-drawn carriages, a river, and the influence that these elements have on the inhabitants. Although a large city, the people moved slowly, but not just the typical Spanish slowly. No, Sevillanos have the relaxed pace people who live in sun-drenched city, where they get to enjoy strolling to the sound of horses clopping down cobblestone and the heavenly fragrance of orange blossoms. It’s the pace of a historically bustling commercial area, turned heavily to tourism, but still maintaining all of the pride and sense of luxury that meant.
Like I said, essentially as much a love letter to Charleston as to Sevilla, and for that reason alone I’m so glad I chose Granada. Somewhere different, slightly rugged, where the locals expect Spanish and the Moorish influence is everywhere. But it was so lovely to spend time somewhere so…lovely. The symbol/saying of the city is a clever picture of “No me ha dejado” – meaning, she (Sevilla) never let me go. Behind all of the romantic history and fantastic stories is the same message: when Sevilla has your heart, it never let’s go.
That they found very cool Roman ruins under…
The Cathedral of Sevilla – 3rd largest in the world
Halfway up the bell tower
Looking over part of Sevilla
Plaza de España – one of the most famous (and new) sights in Sevilla
We went rowing =)
The original and traditional Sevillano flamenco with male and female dancers. Pure magic.
Although disappointed to leave behind beautiful Sevilla, I was excited to see La Mezquita, or great Mosque, of Córdoba. We had studied La Mezquita in two of my classes: History of Art in Spain and Islamic Culture in Spain. It was a wonderfully complete picture with the history, architectural technicalities, and cultural significance of la Mezquita and Córdoba, but not even weeks of study could prepare me. Just as Toledo looks like a model plucked out of Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Córdoba appears as though it could come right out of Arabian Nights. I could imagine the splendor of three centuries worth of Moorish royalty in the streets, the giant ancient city (for the 8th century) full of people, markets, and prayers. While much of Europe was in the dark ages, Córdoba shone with gold and unimaginable wealth thanks to the Moors, and La Mezquita was one of the crowning achievements. Expanded by three different caliphs, La Mezquita was one of the most breathtaking buildings I have ever seen. The indescribable size, all wide open with arches stretching the horizon (yes, this building seems to have a horizon) to facilitate the prayer of 40,000 Muslims. Although they destroyed nearly everything of the Moors’ during the Reconquista, the Catholic Kings even recognized that this was too precious of a space. Instead of destroying and rebuilding, they actually built a Cathedral inside of the mosque. Even more remarkably, it was even done rather tastefully. I can securely say, I did not want to leave. I could have wandered that sea of brick and stone pillars for days, until I had discovered every last crevice.
Welcome to the old city
Moorish, Moorish everywhere!
Outside of La Mezquita
Another cool place transformed, not destroyed.
Alas, it was time to head home to our Granada. As we pulled in, I was struck with how cool it was to be three of the most historically important cities in all of Spain in one weekend. We had essentially travelled through seven centuries of Andalusian/Spanish capitals, arriving back in the last stronghold of the Moors. How romantic this country can be….