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Things to do in Sevilla

    Alcazar Alcazar Seville, Spain
    The Alcazar of Seville, Spain was a Moorish fort that would later be converted into a royal palace, and was called Al-Muwarak, constructed by the Almohades, a Muslim dynasty that ruled the region from the early 8th century until the early 15th century. It is one of the finest examples of mudejar architecture, and the upstairs are still used today by the royal family as one of their official residences, especially when in Seville and run by the Patrimonio Nacional. The Patio de las Doncellas which means the Courtyard of the Maidens is a reference to the old legend that the Moorish rulers here would demand 100 virgins be given to them as a tribute from the Christian kingdoms that existed in Iberia. It may have been used as a tale to keep the Reconquista movement going, or it just may have been the reference to what the Moors did to the Christian women that they abused. The bottom level of the patio was constructed for King Peter I, and contains numerous inscriptions that have described Peter as a sultan, with a number of very elaborate reception rooms being located on the sides of the Patio. The middle of the area contains a reflecting pool with sunken gardens on both sides, as well as the courtyard being made of marble and containing a fountain in the middle. History shows that the reflecting pool and gardens were part of the original design, so they were restored, although the courtyard was temporarily paved once again for actor Ridley Scott who used the courtyard in one of the sets of the King of Jerusalem in his movie "Kingdom of Heaven". After the movie was done filming, the courtyard was returned to its original pavers. The top floor was an addition that was constructed by Charles V, designed by Luis de Vega after the Italian renaissance style, but he did use both mudejar and renaissance plaster work in the decorations. This addition was started in 1540 and completed in 1572. The Baths of Lady Maria de Padilla consist of rainwater tanks that are located beneath the Patio de Crucero, and named after the lady, who had been married when Peter the Cruel fell in love with her and murdered her husband. Maria was able to resist him until she could pour boiling oil onto her face so that it would be disfigured enough to stop Peter from chasing after her. Later, she became a nun and went to live in a convent and today is considered a symbol of purity in the city's historical culture. The Casa de Contratacion or House of Trade is located off the la Monteria, and had been constructed in 1530 by the Catholic Monarchs to help regulate trade with the new colonies in the New World, and pertained to the disputes that arose about trade with the Americas. The casa contains a chapel where Columbus met with Isabella and Ferdinand after he came back from his second expedition to America; and the Virgin of the Navigators which was one of the first paintings that showed the discovery of the new world and is one of the earliest paintings that would show Columbus.

    Seville Cathedral
    Seville Cathedral Seville, SpainThe Seville Cathedral is found in Seville, Andalusia, southern Spain and the biggest Gothic cathedral, as well as third biggest church in the world, being also recognized as the Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See). When it was finished in the 16th century, it became the biggest cathedral in the world, outplacing the Hagia Sophia, which had been the biggest for almost a millennium; and is the burial ground of Christopher Columbus. After the reconquista, or reconquered, the cathedral was constructed to show off the city's fabulous wealth, since it had become the finest and richest port in the world. The designers that decided to construct a new church instead of rejuvenating the former Muslim mosque that had been there but in terrible condition after the earthquake of 1356. They started building the new cathedral on the spot where the former mosque had been located in 1402, and finished it in 1506, after the city had been recaptured from the Moors. Ironically, the church's workers had to give up half their pay for the salaries of the builders, architects and other expenses. In 1511, just five years after it was completed, the dome collapsed so that the work had to begin again. In 1888, the dome fell again and worked continued on that repair until 1903. That collapse happened because of a terrible earthquake and destroyed "every precious object below" it at that time. The interior houses the longest nave in the nation, with the central nave rising up to almost 120 feet and is magnificently adorned with a good amount of gold being exposed. The main part of the cathedral, only the giant boxlike area of the choir is obvious as it fills up the center part of the nave, dominated by a huge gothic retablo of carved scenes from the life of Christ; while the altarpiece, the lifetime work of one craftsman named Pierre Dancart. The builders would end up using parts of the mosque, like the columns and the most famous Giralda, which had been a minaret and now transformed into a bell tower. The Giralda is the city's most famous icon, constructed as a minaret, but then changed to a bell tower and spire top of renaissance styling. The cathedral contains 80 chapels that hold 500 masses every day in 1896, with the baptistery chapel of St. Anthony housing the painting of the Vision of St. Anthony from 1656 painted by Bartolome Esteban Murillo. During November of 1874, the priests discovered that a part of the painting had been destroyed by thieves that had cut out the portion depicting St. Anthony. In January of 1875, a Spanish immigrant tried selling the same painting to a New York art gallery saying that the portion of the original had been a completed work by Murillo; since St. Anthony was one of his most favorite subjects. The gallery's owner was able to negotiate a price of $250 for it and notified the Spanish consulate.

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Local Restaurants in Sevilla

    Starters; bread included; ham Iberico, clams with broad beans, filet of sprats with bread & garlic sauce, filet of anchovies with bread & tomato sauce, fried bread with ham iberico & egg of quail, oxtail croquettes, potatoes & eggs cake fritters, gazpacho is cold soup with veggies, beef carpaccio from Kobe with corn, cheese & pistachio, selection of Andalusian tapas, sautéed scallops with red prawns, mixed grilled veggies, fried eggplants with cod & salmorejo, octopus with potatoes & garlic mayo, scrambled eggs with cold meats & potatoes. Salads; special tomato salad with roasted peppers & tuna, goat-cheese & nuts salad with honey sauce, crawfish marinated with avocado & fried maize, peppers salad with fried scampi. Foies; terrine de foie gras in Cumberland sauce, fresh duck liver in sweet wine. Fishes; monkfish with ham iberico & artichokes, turbot with mixed veggies & broad beans, hake with mushrooms, ham iberico & seafood, filets of meagre with veggies & potatoes, cod fish with tomato grille & leeks. Meats; grilled pork iberico with mustard sauce & sugar, beef entrecotte with hot plate from Galicia, beef entrocotte from Kobe with fried eggplants, sirloin of veal with goat cheese grilled & fig sauce, roast leg of lamb, stuffed lamb with fresh duck liver & sweet onions sauce, oxtails in traditional sauce from Seville.

Scallops & Prawns Beccerita Seville, Spain


Roasted Leg of Lamb Beccerita Seville, Spain




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    Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes de Sevilla Museum of Fine Arts Seville, Spain
    The Seville Museum of Fine Arts is located in the old Merced Convent that built in the early 17th century and has one of the finest collections of old masterpieces of outstanding artists from its early history that include; Velaquez, Murillo, Alonso Cano, El Greco and Pacheo, as well as many other painters of the Seville school of the 17th century, as well as many fabulous religious paintings by Zurbaran. It historic collections run from the gothic period into the 20th century that were donated by many great patrons of the arts, after having spent lifetimes of collecting and acquiring vast collections of paintings, sculptures, weapons, pottery, weavings, and would eventually lead to each patron's donations being showcased in a gallery of their own. As the 20th century ebbed, the perceptions of this museum changed along with many others in Europe that decided to forego the usual idea of chasing after large quantities of artworks, rather than paying closer attention to the various themes that would involve visitors to the museum more often than not. Many of the greatest pieces has come here from the heirs to the great artists of the 20th century as well as the greatest collectors whose descendants didn't feel the same way as their parents, which has been a great boon to the museums around the world that are the recipients of these marvelous gifts. Although there are many heirs that sell their parents collections as if they were merely articles of barter, rather than historical and artistic jewels, some will donate their collections in memory of their parents or ancestors that put so much value and time into acquiring these vast and unimaginable collections, so that we all are the recipients of these magnificent artworks.  The museum was started to display the artistic objects of the convents and monasteries that had been seized by the government.

    Archivo General de Indias
    Archivo General de Indias Seville, Spain
    The Archivo General de Indias of the General Archive of the Indies is located in Seville, Spain inside the ancient merchants' exchange, which had been called the Casa Lonja de Mercaderes, but is now the main repository of the most valuable archival documents that pertain to the history of the Spanish Empire in the Americas and the Philippines. The building was designed by Juan de Herrera, and is considered a serene and Italianate Spanish rendition of renaissance architecture, registered in 1987 as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The structure was originally began in 1572, after Philip II had commissioned Juan de Herrera to construct it. It had a big central patio with two stories, and windows sunk a little bit inward between flat pilasters with square tablets set in the space above them. It contains a balustrade, with rusticated obelisks in each corner, without any kind of decorations other than the sharp contrast between stone and stucco. The structure didn't get officially started until 1584, with Juan de Mijares doing the actual work, under Herrera's plans, and by 1598 was ready to use. There was some work on various parts that didn't get completed until 1629, which was done under the direction of archbishop Juan de Zumarraga and completed by Pedro Sanchez Falconete. Charles III ordered that the archives already housed in the Council of the Indies be brought here to be preserved, in 1785, so that all the archives that had to do with the new world would be kept and preserved under one roof. Later, the decision was made to keep all documents that were made after 1760 would be kept in their respective repositories for the time being. With the first cartloads arriving that same year, the building needed some adjustments, and included the addition of a grand marble staircase in 1787. The treasures hidden in the archives are an amazing amount of autographed materials that began with the first visit of the Conquistadors to the end of the 19th century and include such outstanding documents as Miguel de Cervantes request for an official post to the new world, the Bull of Demarcation Inter caetera of Pope Alexander VI that separated the world between Portugal and Spain, the journals of Christopher Columbus, plans and maps of the new world and the ordinary day-to-day workings of the entire colonial machine. These vast treasures have been mined by Spanish historians for the past two hundred years and have become one of the richest artifacts of the new world's history. With 43,000 volumes and over 80 million pages of documents, it is a historian's toy box, full of many amazing and delightful papers that authenticate the history and colonization of the new world and the nations around it. 

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    Italica RuinsItalica Ruins Seville, Spain
    The ruined city of Italica, some half dozen miles northwest of Seville, Spain, is one of the most interesting and exciting marvels of the modern day, founded in 206 BC by the Roman general Pulius Cornelius Scipio Africanus to house the wounded soldiers from the Battle of Ilipa. At the battle, the Carthaginian army was defeated during the Second Punic War, and by naming the new town Italica somehow bounded it to the Italian builders. It was here that the Roman emperor Trajan was born, a great general that was able to expand the Roman Empire to it greatest extant of lands, and whose adopted son Hadrian would return here to Italica and help it with all means necessary. He added temples, including one that honored Trajan, rebuilt structures and made a colonia of the city, which was one of the highest honors a foreign city could hold. The amphitheater located here was big enough to seat 25,000 people, which made it the third biggest in the Roman Empire. At the height of its existence, it had around 8000 Romans living there, as well as other peoples that had come for trading, adventure and numerous other opportunities. The well-preserved city is an outstanding example of what the Roman cities looked like around that era, and show the favoritism that was shown it during Hadrian's reign. After the Guadalquivir River shifted, most believe that it was caused by siltation, a large problem back then, after the forests were destroyed to make way for the cities, the city of Italica was left high and dry. By the 3rd century, however, it was on its decline; with the settlement of Seville growing and encroaching on some of its older foundations. Today, it is an uniquely well-preserved Roman city of Hispania Baetica, with a wealth of artifacts that can be found and seen in the Museo Arqueologico of Seville, including its famous marble colussus of Trajan. Italica had Roman cobbled streets that are still visible today, with many mosaic flooring still in place; with its excavation beginning in 1781 and still happening today. After large extensive excavations, as well as construction of visitor facilities, the city has become one of the most popular destinations for tourists, and a yearly cross country running contest that is held each January called the Cross Internacional de Italica. This event brings in many visitors, adults and children alike, with the senior competition bringing in many world famous champions.

    Palacio de San Telmo
    San Telmo Palace Seville, SpainThe San Telmo Palace is where the seat of the presidency of the Junta de Andalucia sits, starting back in 1682, sitting on land that was located outside the walls of the Inquisition Court, to hold seminars for the University College of Merchants and to house orphans of the state's sailors. It is a large rectangular landmark of the baroque style in Seville, Spain, with a huge central courtyard, as well as several smaller ones, a chapel and gardens and four towers, one on each corner. The chapel entrance is from a courtyard that was designed by Leonardo de Figueroa, who also helped with the interior decoration as well. Others that were included in the magnificent interior furnishings are; Pedro Duque Cornejo, a sculptor, John Thomas Diaz, a carpenter, Miguel de Quintana, a mason and Domingo Martinez, the painter. It contains the image of Our Lady of Good Air, that was brought here in the early 17th century. The large front facade, created in the outstanding style of churrigueresco was finished in 1754, under the leadership of other Figueroa family members, but mostly Matias Antonio and Matias, the son and grandson of Leonardo. The facade is broken up into three distinct parts, with the first being the front entrance doorway, flanked by three columns on each side, and the second belonging to the balcony that is supported by Atlanteans with reliefs of Indians surrounding the balcony figures of 12 women. On the top, framed in by columns, is the central figure of San Telmo, the patron saint of sailors, and flanked by the trustees of the city at that time, San Fernando and San Hermendegildo. In 1895, the front had the addition of 12 distinguished people from Seville that was designed by Antonio Susilla and is made up of the following; Juan Martinez Montanes, sculptor, Rodrigo Ponce de Leon, marquis of Cadiz and captain general of the reconquest of Granada, Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez, painter, Miguel Manara, caballero and philanthropist founder of the Hospital de la Santa Caridad, Lope de Rueda, writer, Fernando de Herrera, poet, Luis Daoiz, military hero of the War of Independence, Benito Arias Montano, humanist, Bartolome Esteban Murillo, painter, Fernando Enriquez Afan de Ribera, Duke of Alcala, humanist, Fray Bartolome de las Casas, bishop of Chiapas (Mexico) and protector of the Indians.

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May 13, 2011