Spain
Iglesia de Santa Maria la Blanca

Here you’ll find travel reports about Iglesia de Santa Maria la Blanca. Discover travel destinations in Spain of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

5 travelers at this place:

  • Day13

    Seville Cathedral

    July 10 in Spain

    Sam and I went on a guided tour of the Seville Cathedral this morning. It is the third biggest church in the world, behind St Peters in Rome and St Paul's in London. However, it is the biggest cathedral (neither of the other two is classified as a cathedral) and the largest gothic church in the world. As a cathedral, it supplanted the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul as the biggest in the world when it was completed in 1506.

    The cathedral replaced a large mosque built on the same site by the Muslims when they were ruling the city. The city was retaken by Ferdinand III in 1248, and the mosque was gradually converted to a church. But the plans for the cathedral were drawn up and construction commenced in 1401. It took about 100 years to build. Inside it is grand. The huge columns create the sense that one is standing in a huge marble forest with the roof being as high as the sky. The backdrop to the altar is spectacular - a wooden carved story of Jesus told in about 50 ornately carved panels and every covered with gold - 30m wide and 20m high.

    The church is full of original paintings by famous artists, including Goya and Murilla, the latter celebrating the 400th anniversary of his birth this year so there are special exhibitions about hsi art in the cathedral and all through Seville.

    The Visigoth Kings who ruled Spain in the 5th century were converted from Aryanism to Catholicism by two archbishops of Seville who were brothers. They were canonised as a consequence and there are some spectacular paintings of these brothers who are famous in Seville for this accomplishment (although I'm not sure it improved the spiritual status of the Visigoth Kings at all).

    The Cathedral is a spectacular building, bringing together as it did all the very best craftsmen, artisans and artists in Spain and Europe to produce one of the major infrastructure accomplishments of the Middle Ages. It was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1987.

    Many famous kings and queens of Spain and buried in this Cathedral. Christopher Columbus is also buried here and his remains are memorialised in a spectacular tomb with four bronze men carrying his large coffin on their shoulders. These four men symbolise the four main parts of Spain - Leon, Castillo, Navarre, and Aragon. The son of Columbus is also buried in the Cathedral because he donated his library to the Cathedral, which included many of Columbus’ original documents and records.

    There are two major parts of the original Mosque that still form a part of the Cathedral. The courtyard outside the cathedral was the "sahn" (ablutions courtyard) of the original Mosque. There are beautiful orange trees planted in this courtyard the flowers of which give off a very characteristic scent which is synonymous with Seville. There is also the famous Giralda Tower which was the tallest building in the city until just three years ago, and which was the old minaret of the Mosque and was, when it was built, the highest and largest minaret in any mosque in the world. It was a twin of the minaret in Marrakesh in Morocco.
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  • Day12

    Flight to Seville

    July 9 in Spain

    We arose at 6:30am to shower, pack, cleanup and exit our Airbnb by 7:15am. We had been able to catch up on the clothes washing so all was looking good. The drive to the airport only took about 30 minutes, including a stop to refuel the hire car. After dropping the hire car off we still had time at the gate for a croissant and coffee before boarding the Ryanair flight from Santiago de Compostela to Seville. Our plane took off at 9:20am. There was a noticeable increase in temperature when we arrived at 10:50am. We are in the southern Spanish region of Andolusia, and the expected top temperature today in Seville is 36 celsius at 6pm.

    After catching two buses and a short walk we arrived at our Airbnb, which is a nice unit on the edge of Barrio Santa cruz, otherwise known as the Jewish Quarter, the old area of the city. We have booked all our accommodation so we are right in the medieval part of the town. We are a short walk from the Cathedral and the Royal Palace (the Real Alcazar).

    Sam had a rest while I went for a walk around the old city. Seville oozes character and charm. It is a city that was at its height in the 15th to 17th centuries. The river Guadalquivir (good luck pronouncing that one) flows throught the town. The river flows through Cordoba, then Seville the to Cadiz on the coast. Further upstream was an important port in Cordoba, but that region of the river silted up in the middle ages and Seville became the major Spanish port on the river. Later in the 18th century the river in Seville also silted up to make it difficult for boats to navigate, so Cadiz on the coast became the major port. However, when the Spanish empire was expanding, Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan both set off on their overseas missions from Sevilla.

    There are some major historical buildings to be seen and explored in Seville. The cathedral is the third largest in Europe. The only two larger are St Peter's in Rome and St Paul's in London. The cathedral looks grand from the outside, and we have booked a tour for tomorrow of that building. The tower attached to the cathedral is the only remaining portion of the Mosque that was built when the Muslims took control of Spain. The tour tomorrow will also include the Real Alcazar (Royal Palace) which is the home of the Kings and Queens of Spain when resident in Seville throughout history. The top floor of the palace is still reserved for the royal family.

    The 1929 World Fair led to the construction of some amazing buildings, gardens and squares in Seville. The prominent and majestic Plaza de Espana stands out as an amazing piece of architecture which was the centrepiece of the World Fair.

    Seville is a beautiful city, albeit very hot at this time of year. It is a dry heat, so it is bearable if one keeps to the shade when walking around.
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  • Day12

    We went on a guided tour of the Jewish Quarter at 5:30pm. The guide explained the reasons why the Jews lived so close to the royal palace and could be in the King's court in just one minute's walk. The Jews, prior to the Black Plague in 1350, were very popular with the King for two reasons: firstly, because they could lend money which the king often needed, and, secondly, they were the best doctors in Spain so they king called on them for medical treatment. However, when the Black Plague decimated the population of Seville, the Jews did not catch the plague. This led to accusations of various kinds, including the Jews poisoned the water, the Jews killed Christ and this is God's punishment on the Catholics for favouring the Jews in the city, and the Jews have all the money of the city and are causing the Catholics to suffer.

    This all led to an uprising of antisemitism which culminated in one night of massacre in 1391 when the people of Seville rioted and killed 4000 of the 5000 Jews living in Seville. This led to the remaining Jews to flee to other parts of the city and they had to convert to Christianity if they were to be saved. Why didn't the king stand up for them? Because he was so in debt to the Jews that he was thankful that the people had killed the people to whom he owed money. It was an easy way to wipe out a debt.

    The inquisition commenced here in Seville. It was designed to investigate first whether the Jews had really converted to Christianity or were they just doing so to save their lives and secretly keeping their Jewish rituals behind closed doors. The first hearings were held in a small square in the Jewish Quarter. There are two narrow streets going off the square very close together. One street is called Vide (which means life) the other is called Morte (which means death). If the inquisition found the accused innocent, they were taken down the street named life, if found guilty, they were taken down the other street to be executed. It is a chilling reminder of the cruel reality of the Catholic Inquisition. There is a museum located where the first headquarters of the Inquisition was located in Spain. It is here in Seville and we hope to visit it tomorrow.

    There is a square in Seville where a synagogue was located in Seville, but it was destroyed. There is a little Jewish symbol on buildings here wherever there is something of significance to the Jews. They are hard to find, but the guide pointed them out. For example, there is a small underground walkway where the Jews resorted to praying out of sight after the persecutions began. There is also a symbol in the square where the synagogue once stood in the 14th century.

    There are only about 150 Jews living in Seville today, not enough religious Jews to have a synagogue. The Jewish community has never really returned to Spain after they were so persecuted and then expelled in the 14th and 15th centuries.
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  • Day12

    There was a Jewish girl in the Middle Ages called Susanna who is famous in Seville. She was the most beautiful girl in the city. She was romantically attached to a Sevillian soldier, one of the Spanish army resident in the city. Susanna's father was very unhappy with his daughter being in love with a Gentile and a soldier. The Jewish father was rich and well connected and he organised for a raid on the group of soldiers which included the boyfriend of his daughter. He wanted to kill them for stealing his daughter's heart.

    Susanna decided she must warn her boyfriend of what was being planned. The consequence was that the soldiers attacked the father and killed him, and then the boyfriend disassociated himself from Susanna because he was ashamed of what he had brought upon himself and his fellow soldiers as a consequence of being involved with a Jewish girl.

    Susanna had now not only lost her boyfriend but also her father. She lived a lonely life and died a sad spinster. She requested that her bones be displayed on the wall outside her house as a lesson to all Jewish children not to forsake your family or your people for the promise of love. Love is fleeting but family is forever, she said, and she had sacrificed her family for folly.

    Her bones were on display for several centuries, but then they were taken down, and a plaque installed instead over the door of her house in the Jewish quarter. It is a famous landmark and still there today. The street, which is the Morte street meaning death, is also named Susanna Street in that section where her house is located.
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  • Day13

    Torre del Oro

    July 10 in Spain

    The Torre del Oro (meaning Tower of Gold because of its golden appearance from a distance) is one of the most famous remnants of the old city walls and port of Seville from its most prosperous times. It was constructed in 1220 and was an icon of Seville from that time. From the tower the whole of the port area of Seville, and most of the city, can be overwatched. The tower is in all the medieval paintings or drawings of Seville. The Spanish Galleons and merchant ships bring treasure from the new world would pull up beside it.

    The tower is constructed in three levels, the bottom two levels being dodecahedron in shape, which gives it a unique appearance, recognisable anywhere. The top level is round and was constructed at a later time period.

    During the medieval period, a huge chain was anchored from this tower, across the river, to form a defence against enemy ships sailing any further up the river. It could be raised or lowered from the tower. This chain was actually used a number of times in defence of the city.

    The tower can be climbed today and inside its rooms there is a really good museum of the naval and maritime history of Seville, including Ferdinand Magellan who was first to circumnavigate the earth, and Columbus who discovered the new world. These shipping voyages and many others set forth from this port, which was the most important in Europe at the time. The trade in goods from the new world is also described in this museum. Seville was very prosperous and this port saw all the riches of South America return in Spanish Galleons for the benefit of the Spanish Kings and rich Spanish merchants of Seville.

    The port of Seville is actually in a river rather than on the coast, which was considered a significant advantage because it gave the fleet and the port more protection against pirates and other maritime aggressors. This was particularly important given the value of the cargo being carried and unloaded from these ships.

    Today we saw evidence that the river is still navigable by big ships. A massive cruise ship was pulled up to the port of Seville and its occupants were getting out to spend the day in Seville.
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  • Day13

    The Giralda

    July 10 in Spain

    The Giralda Tower is part of the cathedral and a remnant of the mosque which once stood on the same site. The tower was the minaret of the mosque and is just huge. It was the tallest building in Seville until a higher modern skyscraper was completed only three years ago.

    The tower is characteristic of muslim architecture for most of its height, but the Christian renaissance bell tower was built on top of it, so the top part looks distinctly different.

    Sam and I climbed the 34 ramps which wind their way up the inside of the tower, and then the last few stairs to get to the top. When the Muslims controlled the city, one man had to make this climb five times a day to call the Muslims to prayer. Ramps were used in the tower instead of stairs so the man could ride a donkey from the bottom to the top instead of having to climb it five times a day. No donkeys were available today so Sam and I climbed to the top on foot. The view of Seville from the top is spectacular. It would be 360 degrees except they are restoring one side of the tower which blocks the view in one of the four directions.

    The Giralda is the most famous landmark in Seville and the symbol of the city.
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  • Day13

    Real Alcazar

    July 10 in Spain

    Sam and I went on a tour of the famous Real Alcazar, the royal palace in Seville. This famous palace is a spectacular remnant of the glory days of the Spanish Empire. Seville was the port from which Spain launched every trip into the new world bringing back gold, silver and precious cargo of all kinds which brought untold wealth through the port of Seville into the court of the king in this city.

    The royal palace is built in architecture (known as Mudejar) unique to Seville, which is a special combination of Muslim and Christian influences. The Almohads, Muslims, had taken Seville in 712 and controlled it until 1248, about five centuries. They had built a palace for the Sultan of their Caliphate. When King Ferdinand freed the city, he was so impressed with the luxury of the Sultan that he wanted a palace built fit for a Sultan. So he brought in artisans and builders from Granada, which was still under Muslim control, and they built the palace in a unique mix of Muslim and Christian architecture and art.

    The court of the king is luxurious and huge. The top story of the palace is not open to the public because the current king and queen maintain that story for the royal family in case they wish to stay there when in Seville. The current king has not used it, but the previous king did from time to time. It does require the whole palace to be closed down.

    The palace was declared a World Heritage site, along with the Giraldo, in 1987. The palace is so unique and special that it has been used in quite a few movies and TV shows which are set in the Middle Ages. Ridley Scott directed a movie about Jerusalem called The Kingdom of Heaven which used the Palace and its grounds to depict Jerusalem. Also, the Game of Thones TV show was shot here. Apparently, the whole palace had to be closed to the public for two weeks for that shoot.

    We spent a couple of hours in the palace but felt we could be spent longer there. The gardens are beautiful as well and represent the gardens of many parts of the world, as the kind received gifts of plants from many countries and these were used to build gardens characteristic of those countries within the palace walls.

    The Muslims love to include lots of water fountains and greenery in their courtyards, to create a kind of paradise, and these are found throughout the palace and its grounds.

    The Real Alcazar is not to be missed on any visit to beautiful Seville.
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  • Day13

    The Bull Ring in Seville

    July 10 in Spain

    Parts of Spain have banned bullfights, but not Seville. They continue to occur in the famous Seville bullring known as Plaza de Toros. Sam and I went on a memorable tour of the bullring and all of its preparation rooms, animal storage areas and museum.

    The tour commences with the museum, which displays all kinds of fascinating artifacts and pieces of art which commemorate the art of bullfighting. There are famous toreador outfits, bullfighting capes and weapons, as well as an explanation of how bullfighting began - which was a way for Spanish cavalry to become accustomed to fighting on horseback.

    We then walked through the animal enclosures for the bulls and the horses which are used in the bullfights (the picadors are mounted on horseback). Then we saw where the toreadors prepare, including a chapel where they pray moments before going out into the ring.

    We then walked out into the centre of the bullring itself and stood exactly where the Toreador would stand when waiting for the charging bull to emerge from the gates. The really brave toreadors take a kneeling stance when the bull first charges into the ring. I am not sure I would choose to face a charging bull, weighing 500-700 kgs, on my knees, but I have never been confronted with that particular challenge so it's hard to really say.

    The bullring was first constructed in 1749 and it is still used today. The bullfights are not taking place while we are here because everyone is on summer holidays, but there are some youth training events taking place in the next few days. Young and emerging bullfighters get to have a go over the summer months. Maybe its a bit of a holiday camp for naughty boys, I'm not sure.

    Bullfighting is a very proud tradition in Spain, although there is a lot of pressure to ban it. Animal rights groups have a strong objection and it is said that the majority on Spaniards now believe it should be banned. It has been banned in some parts of Spain, including Barcelona and Catalonia generally, but it still takes place here and in Madrid. We might be able to see a bullfight in Madrid, we are not sure. Is it okay to watch a bull being killed as sport?

    It was a very memorable tour of an iconic sporting arena in Seville.
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  • Day3

    Day 2 - Breakfast and a tour.

    October 25, 2016 in Spain

    Breakfast was fantastic!!!! Nespressos and chocolate croissants.......Nutella croissants ..... meats/cheeses/ fruit....... Did the Hop 'n Stop around Seville and spent the afternoon in The Cathedral of Seville. See the tome of Christopher Columbus!

You might also know this place by the following names:

Iglesia de Santa Maria la Blanca

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