In between some homeschooling and small day trips, we’ve been taking full days off to drive to some larger cities, much larger than our small isolated town. Here are some of the highlights from Ronda and Sevilla:
The gorge – This is the steepest natural valley I’ve ever seen! The river El Tajo has cut it over thousands of years; the buildings peek precariously over the edge… Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” describes how they threw fascists of the Puente Nuevo bridge during the Spanish civil war. There have been tragic accidents of course and it’s said that the original architect fell off while trying to carve the date into the bridge.
The bullfighting ring Plaza de Toros – One of the oldest in Spain, this ring was used until only a month ago or so, due to the outlawing of bullfighting in spain. We walked through the ring, which still had faint blood streaks in the sand. The stands were old fashioned and the balconies were still separated for royalty. Now that the bulls were gone you could walk into their cells, which were bare and lonely. The heavy doors were opened with pulley systems from above so the bull could charge out the narrow corridor and into the ring. In the back there were all sorts of contraptions to hold the bulls; Audrey declared that she was disgusted! The atmosphere was a little weird when we went through because you felt like you were in a historical monument, but it had been used until only a little while ago so everything was old and newer at the same time.
In Ronda we walked around and went to a restaurant that took 40 minutes to deliver bland food, so next time we are short on time we aren’t sitting down for lunch! Other than that we were in a small square and it was very charming, so a nice city.
Sevilla was toured by the Lie family a couple of days later. We were in the car by 7:30ish, around an hour before we usually wake up, and we arrived at around 10. Time to see Sevilla!
The cathedral – The cathedral in Sevilla is the largest gothic structure in the world. Its history is also interesting, since it was a Moorish mosque and then converted into a church, so it had influences from both religions. The inside was enormous… The pillars looked like they were about to brush the sky, if we had been able to see it. The walls were lined with facades dedicated to what felt like each saint in the entire Christian faith. The center of the church had this massive gold altar that was so intricately decorated it was like the basilica San Marco all over again. The tower, or La Giralda was still from the days of the mosque, and to get to the top you need to walk 34 ramps, which were there so you could ride your horse up. At the top there are 24 different bells which symbol everything from the time of day to a catastrophe to a celebration, and a nice view! The other part of the mosque still standing was the courtyard of the orange trees, which had many empty fountains that were connected with little paths for the water, which is very important in the Islamic religion.
The Plaza de Espana: This plaza probably has the most amount of tile work I’ve ever seen! It’s situated in a wheel with an outside ring, a little moat, and an island in the middle, connected by some bridges. The outside ring is lined with little tile benches, each featuring one city or something like that. The plaza was a fun thing to see; it seemed to have been made by beautifully decorated tiles.
Ronda and Sevilla were definitely a change from our little white village, and Granada is up next!