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9.12.2009

8/30/09 Snapshot: Giralda Tower in Seville

Journal entry from the foot of Giralda Tower:

Sitting on the edge of an enormous fountain at the foot of the Cathedral's massive tower. The Tower that used to be a minaret, when this biggest cathedral in the world was one of the biggest mosques in the world. (The biggest mosque? Then? Now? I wonder...)

Bought this tiny journal for 3 Euros in a Cathedral gift shop, both because I liked it and because I was hungry to do exactly this: sit on the street and write.

Looking at this mosque-turned-cathedral, I see now that you can't possibly understand southern Spain without understanding Morocco. But vice-versa? And how many other examples of crossfertilization speckle the European/NorthAfrican/MiddleEastern landscape?

For that matter, when did this building get its flying buttresses? Who gets the credit for that stroke of engineering genius?

Closer to the tower - just meters from its base - wait five horse-drawn carriages. Quaint, picturesque...and saddening, as I watch the horses stomp and stretch and shake and shudder and generally chafe against their blindered, harnessed, immobile parade rest.

...while above them soar stones who have rested for centuries. Think of that - this jam3/Cathedral draws close to its millenial anniversary. It was old when knights were young.

Sultry, rich, muffled *DONG*s clang out 8pm. Now a higher-toned bell from another tower. Now a tenor submits his entry to the timekeeping competition.

The sun edges towards the horizon, already so low that the cathedral's shadow covers the courtyard, and the western wall of the building behind me glows golden in the rich light.

[Slightly later]

I found a photo book about Seville. I successfully resisted buying it - though it tempted me - but I scanned it and want to record some relevant information: This Giralda tower is sister to the Koutubia in Marrakesh and the Hassan in Rabat (quoth the book, but I wonder if it meant the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca?). Also, the curtain wall I noticed near one corner of the cathedral? One of the last remaining bits of Muslim architecture in the city; it belonged to the palace of a Moorish potentate. The posted sign calls it the oldest royal building still in use in Europe.

I'm now sitting on the steps of one of the cathedral's many corners - no longer at the Courtyard of the Virgin di Reyes - listening to an Irish harper and watching the crowds. A clock just struck 8:45. Since my watch broke months ago, and my cell phone is dead, I have no timepiece of my own, but depend on clocktowers to ring out the time...much as people have done in European cities for centuries.

I wonder how many of the passersby are tourists, and how many are residents?

I'm repeatedly struck by Seville's myriad architectural styles...
...and fashion paradigms
...and ages, languages, clusterings, strides, etc, of the people on the street.

The tapas restaurant across the street is starting to fill. Time to eat.

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Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps