*All photos taken from my iPhone 4/5
I took out my travel journal earlier, preparing to write out this post. As I read my journal entries of Sevilla, my heart skipped a beat, several times. I thought, “Wow, really? I went through that? How come I don’t remember that happening?”
Then I realised how human that is – to only seek to remember the good times and downplay the painful ones. We tend to romanticize the past, and really, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a way to look back in life and be thankful. When I think of Sevilla, I remember the good – the strolls by the river, the beautiful smell in the air, the sense of freedom and wonder. It took me a read of my journal entries, which I try to keep as honest, open and detailed as possible, to remember that man, I went through a lot while in Sevilla.
I guess perhaps that’s why Sevilla holds a very special position in my heart, different and separate from my love and wonder for Granada and Cordoba. Sevilla was where I had to face demons and threats to pull me down. I was receiving hurtful and contentious messages. I had the choice to allow them to affect me adversely or hold myself to a higher standard.
I chose to hold myself to a higher standard. I always believe that when life places me in a position to react to pain, always choose to be the bigger person.
I did. I mean, heck, I was in Sevilla! I might as well live it up and enjoy it. And enjoy Sevilla, I did. Tremendously. Alhamdulillah.
One of the things I thoroughly enjoyed in Sevilla was the river. After exploring Malaga, Granada and Cordoba (to read more about these, click the Seeking Spain tab), I was content to just soak up the feeling of chilling by the river. Because really, that would totally be what I’d do if I stay in Sevilla long-term – make the river my favourite hang out spot. Bonus for me was that the hostel I was staying in (The Spot Central) was a mere 5 minutes walk away from the river. SCORE!
I was obsessed with the river. The air around it was crisp and fresh, the hustle and bustle of city life was apparent yet extremely comforting, and the kayaks and boats running through it gave me a profound sense of happiness I cannot describe.
I am a water baby, I cannot deny it. Water makes me very happy.
One of my fondest memory of Sevilla is, in fact, sitting at a riverfront cafe, eating the best baked salmon I’ve ever had to date.
Sitting there by the river, with the checkered tablecloth, and
oogling at men kayaking looking out at the amazing scenery, provided me with a brief sense of serenity, a sense of arriving at where I’m meant to be despite the turmoil of emotions I was being put through.And how can I forget the times I sat on the river bank, armed with my book and journal, waiting for the sun to set?
Of course, there is great significance in this river running through Sevilla. (I wouldn’t have mentioned it if there wasn’t, right?)
The Sevilla harbour, located along River Guadalquivir, is the only river port in Spain. Sevilla herself is the capital and largest city of Andalucia.
Seville was founded as the Roman city of Hispalis, and was known as Ishbiliya after the Muslim conquest in 712. During the Muslim rule in Spain, Seville came under the jurisdiction of the Caliphate of Córdoba before becoming the independent Taifa of Seville; later it was ruled by the Muslim Almoravids (more info here) and the Almohads (more info here) until finally being incorporated into the Christian Kingdom of Castile under Ferdinand III in 1248.
What I noticed when I first explored Sevilla was the loss of the Moorish feel of the place to me. Granada and Cordoba still had a strong Moorish influence in its design, possibly because they were the last two areas to fall during the Reconquest. Sevilla fell to the Christian kingdom substantially earlier, hence the presence of a more mudejar kind of architecture.
The Mudéjar style, a symbiosis of techniques and ways of understanding architecture resulting from Muslim and Christian cultures living side by side, emerged as an architectural style in the 12th century on the Iberian peninsula. Mudéjar did not involve the creation of new shapes or structures (unlike Gothic or Romanesque), but the reinterpretation of Western cultural styles through Islamic influences.
In essence, it basically means an adaptation of Christian architecture with strong Moorish influences. The Christian kings fell in love with the airy concept of Moorish palaces, where light, water and air combine to form a beautiful configuration reflecting life in heaven. I wrote about this here, if you’re interested.
The crucifix is very prominent in Sevilla, something I noticed while walking about.
But of course, one only needs to look below the surface to see the remnants of its Islamic heritage. One of the main players?
This is the Giralda, a former minaret tower that was converted into a bell tower for the Cathedral of Sevilla. The tower’s first two-thirds is a former minaret, the upper third Spanish Renaissance architecture. After the Reconquest, the city’s mosque was converted into a church.
The other one?
The Torre del Oro (lit: Gold Tower). It is a military watchtower built by the Almohad dynasty in order to control access to Seville via the river.
I went for a free walking tour while in Sevilla, in which I had a refreshing history lesson.
What was more impactful for me though, was when I walked around aimlessly, yet found myself learning many profound lessons along the way. Now didn’t I say keeping a journal is great? (:
But….. I’m not going to write all that in this one entry, y’know. Where’s the fun in that? (: I’ll be back with the next part of my time in Sevilla soon. Come back for more! 😉
Lots of love,