Santacruz and Cathedral
A distillation of all that is typically Andalusian; the neighbourhood of Santa Cruz (the old Jewish Quarter), the Cathedral, the Giralda, the Archivo de Indias (Archive of the lndies) and the Alcázar, are must-see monuments of Seville. They offer pleasures for all five senses, representations of history and legend and insights into Andalusian culture and sensibility. Adorned with beautiful patios, multitudes of flowers and unbelievably narrow streets, the neighbourhood of Santa Cruz stands in the middle of the historic centre of the city, protected by the walls of the Alcázar. Bordering the Jewish Quarter stands the Cathedral and several buildings, the most spectacular complex of monuments in the city.
Walking along the Avenida de la Constitución the first impressive site is the façade of the Parish Church of El Sagrario built in the 17th century by Zumárraga, Rojas and Vandelvira. Inside it contains marvelous Baroque altarpieces by Duque Cornejo and Pedro Roldán.
To one side of this building stands the main façade of the Cathedral. It was built on the location of the High Mosque of Seville, (demolished in the 15th century), and for many centuries was the biggest religious monument in all of Christendom. It contains five naves of Gothic style with a large transept, site of the Main Chapel a construction which boasts a magnificent altarpiece and a Plateresque Grill. The Cathedral was designed by Alonso Martinez, Simón de Colonia and Juan Gil de Ontañón. The works were finished off in 1506, with a Plateresque Royal Chapel in the temple's sanctuary, later used as the place of burial of Fernando Ill el Santo and his son, Alfonso X el Sabio. The city's patron saint, Virgen de los Reyes, presides over the altar. The Cathedral also houses the Chapel of the Virgen de la Antigua, a construction of important Colombian influence, the sepulchre of Christopher Columbus, a choir with spectacular Mudéjar stalls and exuberant Baroque organ boxes. The Cathedral Museum contains works by great painters, codexes and choir books, chasubles and ornaments and a sumptuous collection of gold work. Bordering the Cathedral are remnants of the old mosque, the Patio de Los Naranjos (Patio of the Orange Trees) and the Giralda, the city's most prominent monument. Built on a foundation of Roman stones carried from Itálica, it was continued in brick by the Almohades, who decorated the façades with sebka work and poly-lobed horseshoe windows. The tower, a later Christian work, is crowned with a spectacular Renaissance bell shaft. We recommend climbing to the top to contemplate the splendid view of the city from the Giralda, a monument to eternity.
Leaving the Cathedral through the Puerta de Palos the visitor sees the Square of the Virgen de los Reyes and on his left the façade of the 18th-century Palace of the Archbishop. Its colours (blood-red and ocher-yellow) are characteristic of Sevillian Baroque constructions. The Old Diputación, (Town Hall), a 17th century palace, presides over the Square of Triunfo. At the other end of the square stands the lndies Archives, built in times of Felipe II.
The Puerta del León (Lion's Door) provides access to the Alcázar one of the oldest royal residences in Europe. This location has been occupied by a series of different buildings, a Roman acropolis, a Paleochristian Basilica, different Visigothic buildings, a Moorish castle, and the first Moorish Fortress of the 9th century. Pedro I built the Mudéjar Palace, a mixture of Gothic elements with Mudéjar plaster and coffer work. Especially interesting are the Patio de la Montería (Hunting Patio), the Patio de las Doncellas (Maiden's Patio), the Patio de las Muñecas (Dolls Patio) and the impressive Salón de Embajadores (Ambassador's Hall), with its huge golden cupola of the mid-15th century. Next to the Mudéjar Palace stands the Palace of Carlos V, adjacent to the Jardines del Alcázar (Alcázar gardens) of Moorish inspiration with Renaissance and Romantic elements.
The visitor exits the Alcázar into the Patio de Banderas (Patio of the Flags) with its spectacular view of the Cathedral and the Giralda, and then into the peaceful streets of the Barrio de Santa Cruz, an old Jewish neighbourhood. From this point, Vida Street leads to the Alley del Agua (Water), bordering the walls of the Alcázar. A large number of typical popular buildings line this street, protected by iron gates which open onto patios profusely decorated with flowers. The street leads into the Square of Santa Cruz, presided over by the Cross of the Cerrajería (locksmith's), which connects the neighborhood with the Murillo Gardens. Leaving this square along Santa Teresa street the traveller arrives at the Convent of San José, a 17th century building.
Continuing along the streets López de Rueda and Reinoso, the visitor finds himself in the Square of Los Venerables, location of the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes, a large Baroque building founded in 1675 as an asylum for priests. It contains the frescoes painted by Valdés Leal and by his son. The Hospital de los Venerables is now used for art exhibitions.
Gloria Street leads to the typical Square of Doña Elvira, and then to the Square of the Alianza, adjacent to the Alcázar walls. Further along, Gloria Street connects with Mateos Gagos Street, full of lively bars and taverns. The Giralda bar, for example, is located in an old Moorish bath-house and boosts an excellent tapas menu. Further along, on the other side of the street, is located the Parish Church of Santa Cruz, (17th century), which contains works by excellent artists. Opposite the church begins Guzmán el Bueno street which leads to the bay windows of the Pinelo House, site of the Academia de Bellas Artes (Academy of Fine Arts). The building contains two beautiful patios and rooms with Gothic, Mudéjar and Plateresque decoration. Further along, Abades street connects with Bomberg street, where Roman columns, remains of a temple dedicated to Mercury, lend the street the name of Mármoles (Marble).
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