Spain, Gibraltar and Morocco

A trip from March 24 through April 12, 2008

Sevilla, with its Alacazar and Cathedral
Building in Seville
This is a bank building in Seville, built in the 1920's.  It shows an ongoing influence of the Moorish styles on Spanish architecture.
Palacio de San Telmo Palacio de San Telmo is an example of Sevillian baroque architecture.  When it was built, between 1628 and 1734, it was a school for navigation.  However, based on a royal decree, it became a seminary for priests in 1897.
Gate to Alcazares Reales
One of the key attractions in Seville is the Alcázares Reales, a set of royal buildings.  The Puerto de Leon (Lion's Gate) is the principal entry to  the compound.  It appears we were not the only tour group in Seville.
Patio de las Doncellas
This is the Patio de las Doncellas, courtyard of the maidens.  This is the center of the palace of King Pedro I of Castille.  Also known as Pedro the Cruel, he reigned between 1350 and 1369.  (The Moors lost Seville in 1248.)  This courtyard is surrounded by very gracious chambers,  the official staterooms.  Carlos V (1516 - 1556) built the second story, from which the young ladies could observer their elders being royal.
Salon de Embajadores
The Hall of the Ambassadors adjoins the Patio de las Doncellas, and this ceiling is known as the "Half Orange."  Just a part of the decorations in this formal room.
Reflecting Pool
A ground level view of Patio de las Doncellas, with its reflecting pool, and a sunken garden that was discovered in 2004.  At one point, it had been paved over.
One of the arches seen from the Patio de las Doncellas.
Gardens at the Alcazar
The Alcázares Reales includes a number of formal gardens.  This is just a corner.
Just outside of the Alcázares Reales is the Cathedral of Santa Maria, which was built between 1401 and 1501 on the site of a large Mooring mosque.  This is a case of cathedral envy, and part of the goal was to out shine the cathedral in Toledo.  The result is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and third largest church, after St. Peters (Rome) and St. Paul's (London).

This is the Giralda, a great case of recycling.  This was the minaret for the Moorish mosque, and the cathedral builders added the top gallery.  Now it is the cathedral tower.
Cathedral Entry
Part of the entry to the Seville Cathedral.
High Altar
This is the retable at the high altar in the Capilla Mayor.  It is only 91 feet high.  It was another 100-year project.
One of two spectacular baroque organs in the Cathedral of Santa Maria.
Looking down the nave of the Seville Cathedral.
Columbus' Tomb
Christopher Columbus died in 1506, and his remains rambled back and forth across the Atlantic.  He had wanted to be buried on the Caribbean island of Santo Domingo.  Carlos V allowed that, and his remains were subsequently transferred to Cuba, maybe.  His remains, the Cuba version,  were transferred back here in the 1890's and placed in this 1900 tomb.  The four heralds are represent the four kingdoms of Spain.
Cordoba and the Mezquita
Roman Bridge
This is known as the Roman Bridge, and once it was.  However, what we see today is a reconstruction.
The Mezquita, meaning Great Mosque, was built in stages over three centuries (starting in 785) to become the greatest mosque in the 14th century Muslim world.  Since Cordoba was the capital of Moorish Spain, the size was justified.  The space enclosed by the Mezquita is more than 5½ acres.
Visigoth Floor
The Romans had erected a temple on this site.  Later, the Visigoths used the site for their basilica dedicated to St. Vincent.  When the Moslem arrived in 711, the converted a bit of St. Vincent's, but later built over it.  This excavated floor dates back to the Visigoths and St. Vincent's Basilica.
Capilla de Villavicosia
Today, this is called the Capilla de Villaviciosa, but the construction goes back to al-Hakam II, Caliph of Cordoba from 961 to 976.  It was the entrance to his prayer room.
Maqsura Dome
Al-Hakam II also had this dome built to the area of the mosque just in front of the Mihrab, below.
Al-Hakam had specialists come in from Byzantium to create this mihrab, a chamber from which the imam of the mosque would pray.  It was completed in 965, and it is carefully aligned to face Mecca, more carefully aligned than the balance of the mezquita.  Its shape is intended to amplify the imams voice.
In 1523, the Catholic church of Cordoba authorized the construction of a cathedral smack in the middle of the Mezquita.  It sticks out the top, because cathedrals are tall.
Jewish Quarter
Adjacent to the Mezquita, there is a Jewish neighborhood.  From 70 AD through the 13th century, Jews streamed into Andalusia.  Before Ferdinand and Isabella, Jews played a significant role in Spanish society, and Cordoba had the largest Jewish community in Spain during the caliphate.  This street leads into the old Jewish quarter.  Navigation through here is not for the idle tourist.
This synagogue was built during Seville's Christian era, around 1315, by Moorish craftsmen.  It is the only synagogue in southern Spain that remains intact.  It had its ups and downs.  After 1492, when all the Jews were kicked out, this became a rabies hospital; the shoemakers guild later used it as a chapel.  Still, a bit of Hebrew appears above the door.
Tarifa and Leaving Spain
This battlement overlooks the harbor in Tarifa.  Tarifa is the town closest to Morocco, and it was here that the Moors first landed in 711.  They proceeded across the country at lightning speed after that.

For us, Tarifa was the place where we caught a ferry that took us from Europe to Africa in about 30 minutes.

However,  before leaving for Morocco, we had a visit to Gibraltar.

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