Upon stepping off the bus, we walked to the Alcazar, the royal palace. It was magnificent. The Alcazar reminded me of the Alhambra in so many ways. It featured mosaics, and details of Islamic architecture, similar to the Alhambra.
After we finished our tour of the gardens, patios, and rooms of the Alcazar, we took a tour of the cathedral of St. Mary of the See. Sevilla’s cathedral is actually the largest Gothic cathedral and the third largest Catholic Church in the world. Despite these distinctions, the cathedral has Islamic history behind it. Before its renovation into a cathedral, the building served as a mosque that dates back to the 12th century. La Giralda, the famous bell tower of the cathedral, was originally a minaret. The cathedral was impressive, with gold and iron details. It is even the final burial site of Christopher Columbus. My friends and I even walked up 40 ramps to reach the top of the La Giralda. Despite the cloudy skies, we had a great view of Sevilla. I was proud that I actually made it up the 40 ramps without complaining.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we walked along the river to begin our afternoon touring. On this walk to our next “big” site, I was able to see the outsides of the bullfighting ring, the watchtower, and the governor’s residence. Our “big” site was the Plaza de España, which was built in 1929 for the Ibero-American exposition. Here’s a fun fact for you: It is actually one of the settings in the Star Wars films. The center itself is so interesting. It features 1920’s style buildings in a semi circle. Inside the semi circle, there are benches for all the provinces of Spain. My friends took the opportunity to rent a paddle boat and see the Plaza from the man-made moat that the buidings surround. That night, some of us went to a flamenco show in Sevilla.
|Arches of the Mesquita|
As a student in the Arabic studies program, Cordoba was my favorite place on the two day excursion. It is a great mix of Jewish, Muslim, and Catholic sites.
We crossed a bridge built by the Romans in to visit the sites in Córdoba. First, we toured the old Jewish neighborhood of Córdoba, which included the synagogue. Then, we visited the mesquita, the Catholic cathedral of Cordoba that was once a Muslim mosque. From the “outside,” a courtyard which is actually part of the site, I was able to view the impressive tower. Once I walked in, I was overwhelmed. The red and white arches of the mesquita seem like they extended for miles. We then walked into the area that had been renovated in the cathedral. It was impressive; the Islamic and Catholic details seemed to blend together so perfectly. The white, magnificently detailed ceiling of the Catholic cathedral seemed to flow effortlessly from the white and red arches of the mesquita. I was mesmerized by the Islamic details, which included the area where the imam would stand during prayer.
After this excursion, I realized that Granada is actually feeling like home to me. As much as I enjoyed the trip, I was so excited to return to my apartment and see my host family. The shops and restaurants of my neighborhood are so familiar to me now. Granada is really becoming home.
Mia Polizzotto is the Spring 2014 CEA MOJO in Granada, Spain. She is currently a junior at York College of Pennsylvania
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