Today, the 15th, we had booked tickets for 10.00am for The Alcazar. It is the oldest Royal Palace still in use in Europe. As far as we could understand it is only used by the present King as his Seville base. Nothing of political import goes on there. We could have toured the royal apartments but the tours were booked out.
It originates from the 11th century and is now a world heritage site. It’s history is in line with that of Seville and there are still some parts of it which belong to the Islamic period. The Castilian conquest occurred in 13th century and they made changes to the purposes of the spaces but very largely left the Islamic architecture and decoration. As a result the Islamic nature of the building leaves the strongest impression on the visitor although the gothic changes are very clear.
The palace generally is huge and spectacular, beautiful architecture, and superb detailed decoration. There are many, many rooms and we visited them all, and found that no two were the same. Clearly more than the King and his family lived here over the years, so the spaces were also used by the huge retinue which must go with such an enormous area. It was extremely varied. There was one area with superb tapestries. One which took our eyes showed a map of Europe as it was known in 1535 and we were able to see Seville there. North was at the bottom of the map. Spain is the large land mass to right of centre. Italy appears like a set of islands – mainly Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia – in the bottom left. And Africa appears across the top.
Another tapestry illustrated a conquest of Tunisia. And another Columbus’ discovery of America. Apart from it being a beautiful place to visit, it was yet another place where we could add to our Spanish history. We are slowly building up our knowledge although we find it hard to remember. Lots of homework for the future. As always the audio guide was very good indeed.
A very important part of the palace are the gardens. They were in early years huge orange groves. Almost all the gardens include orange trees, even some made into high hedges which we had never seen before. The gardens are very extensive and individual, often with fountains or pools, and very beautiful places to sit. When the palace was used exclusively by the King, each garden was set apart for different groups of those who were part of the household – like the women, the maidens, the poets, the dancers and so on. We also came across an underground cistern, said to be the bathing pool of a prominent female member of the royal household.
A bit of a rest back in our room – we spent from 10 to 3 at the palace, and needed all that time. Al had a bit of techo work to do in relation to our Aldi SIM card which had got a bit complicated. The Aldi phone support is very impressive. On every occasion they have been incredibly helpful, and successful in solving the problems.
As you will have suspected from the feature image of this blog, we arranged to meet meet Jill and Dave for dinner at 8.30 before going to a Flamenco performance. As it turned out, they got stuck in the crowds with more processions happening, and didn’t arrive till 9.15pm. We had found a restaurant close by so with Jill’s Spanish were able to tell them we only had a short time. We were soon brought a drink and some tapas to devour. The flamenco was a fantastic experience – a 10.15pm performance. There are many on offer and we went to the one at Museo del Baile Flamenco. We chose it on the Internet because it went to some trouble to explain the evening to us, and it wasn’t too pricey. After we bought the tickets on line we discovered that Trip Advisor gave it a very good wrap up. So, got out of our peddle pushers and t-shirts and tried to look a bit respectable. You can imagine what our clothes are beginning to look like after 6 weeks. Our main aim is to have clean sox and knickers, and for the rest we are not too fussy!
The evening exceeded our expectations. There were 5 performers. The music support came from 3 amazing people. A superb guitarist, and a male and female singer. All 3 were extremely passionate and terrific artists in their own right. The two dancers were amazing. The energy was overwhelming. The woman was lithe and beautiful, extremely fit, a very expressive face and wonderful movement. Her 3 outfits were just gorgeous. She and the equally fantastic man (who looked like a bull fighter) did 3 numbers – all long and complicated, and very passionate. The first was achingly romantic, the second just as emotionally sad, and the third over the top in speed, with amazing foot movement – almost like tap dancing. The fellow shook his head a lot as he danced and sweat just poured off him into the air.
We will be looking to go again as we travel further south – it is a wonderful art form. An icecream on the way home – they are a daily delight here and are very beautiful. In bed by 1am, and slept as solidly as if we had done the dancing!!