“Intrepid spirits seek victory over those things that seem impossible”

Water Lane, named for the ancient Roman aqueducts that ran along this street.
Water Lane, named for the ancient Roman aqueducts that ran along this street.

After spending several hours in Córdoba, we pressed on to Seville, our home for the next couple days. It’s the capital of Andalusia and the fourth largest city in Spain, behind Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. Its cathedral is the third largest cathedral in Europe, behind St. Peter’s in the Vatican and St. Paul’s in London.

The famous balcony of the Barber of Seville
The famous balcony of the Barber of Seville

The city goes all the way back to the Phoenicians, then called Spal. The Romans knew it as Hispalis. The Muslim occupation of Seville began in 712 and ended in 1248 when Ferdinand III of Castile proceeded with his Reconquista. The Barber of Seville and Don Juan both have played a part in the history of the city, and flamenco dancing originated here in the heart of Andalusia.

Seville has the only river port in Spain – the Guadalquivir River is 50 navigable miles from the Atlantic Ocean. My boy Magellan set off from here in 1519 to begin the first circumnavigation of the world. Aside: I realize that Magellan did not complete his voyage, getting himself killed in the Philippines only to have his bones continue the journey. Technically I suppose this still means he circumnavigated the world, living and dead. /aside
Don Juan was known to frequent this square.
Don Juan was known to frequent this square.
Column commemorating Magellan's voyage.
Column commemorating Magellan’s voyage.

The “discovery” of the Americas in the 15th century set Seville up as a main trade center for New World goods entering Spain and the rest of the continent via the Guadalquivir. If Córdoba was tops in the 10th century, the 17th century was prime time for Seville until gradual silting of the river shifted the trade center to the port of Cadiz. The 20th century was significant in Seville because of two major expositions (in 1929 and 1992), which both saw major construction completed in the city. The Achivo General de Indias houses all of the archival materials from the Americas, including Columbus’ reports back to Ferdinand III and Isabella II, among many other documents related to the Spanish conquest of the Americas and Philippines.

This column commemorates the bringing together of Spain and the Americas - Ferdinand is written on the boat on this side. Isabel is on the other. Parrots were perched up in the boat.
This column commemorates the bringing together of Spain and the Americas – Ferdinand is written on the boat on this side. Isabel is on the other. Parrots were perched up in the boat.
The Tower of Gold, so named because it was where the gold from the Americas was stored as it came in from the river in the 15-17th centuries.
The Tower of Gold, so named because it was where the gold from the Americas was stored as it came in from the river in the 15-17th centuries.
Though interesting, none of these facts give you a sense of the immensity of the Old Town and her winding labyrinth of streets or the spirit of her people and their rich culture dating back centuries. Like everywhere else I visited in Spain, Seville is a city of contrasts layered together to create a vibrant, compelling sense of the future.
A square in the old Jewish Quarter, complete with ceramic benches (modern-ish reproductions) and an original 15th century fountain.
A square in the old Jewish Quarter, complete with ceramic benches (modern-ish reproductions) and an original 15th century fountain.
Giant ficus tree in a garden near the entrance to the old Jewish Quarter
Giant ficus tree in a garden near the entrance to the old Jewish Quarter
Stay tuned tomorrow for details from my visit to one of the major landmarks in Seville, the Plaza de España.
Title quote: Ferdinand Magellan
When you walk around Seville, you will find a church on every corner or in each little square. This is just one.
When you walk around Seville, you will find a church on every corner or in each little square. This is just one.
This plaque on a wall in the old Jewish Quarter honors the three cultures who lived side-by-side for hundreds of years: Jewish, Christian and Muslim.
This plaque on a wall in the old Jewish Quarter honors the three cultures who lived side-by-side for hundreds of years: Jewish, Christian and Muslim.
Another winding street in Seville
Another winding street in Seville
Gorgeous balconies on a winding, narrow street
Gorgeous balconies on a winding, narrow street
One of Seville's winding streets - even with phone-guided directions, it's super easy to get lost here.
One of Seville’s winding streets – even with phone-guided directions, it’s super easy to get lost here.
The main square in Old Town, next to the Cathedral, India Archives and Alcazar Palace.
The main square in Old Town, next to the Cathedral, India Archives and Alcazar Palace.
This is one bridge across the Guadalquivir River, built for the Expo in 1992.
This is one bridge across the Guadalquivir River, built for the Expo in 1992.
For the 1929 Expo, all Spanish-speaking countries were invited to participate. Each built an extensive pavilion or building -- this is Argentina's. Most of them are owned by the city of Seville or are embassies now.
For the 1929 Expo, all Spanish-speaking countries were invited to participate. Each built an extensive pavilion or building — this is Argentina’s. Most of them are owned by the city of Seville or are embassies now.
Rowers on the Guadalquivir River, taken from a river cruise.
Rowers on the Guadalquivir River, taken from a river cruise.
Street art along the river
Street art along the river
Beautiful, river-side homes and a modern building along the river.
Beautiful, river-side homes and a modern building along the river.

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