Cadiz, Spain to Seville April 10, 2017

Each evening after dinner, the creatures continue to invade our living space.

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Monday, April 10, required us to rise before dawn for our adventure from Cadiz, Spain, to Seville, about an hour and a half away. Our Holland America tour bus arrived on time at 10A in Seville, and our tour guide, Francesco Soriano was waiting as we left the bus. He proved to be invaluable as the day was busy with both the Alcazar and Seville’s magnificent Cathedral, third largest in Europe, after St Peter’s in Rome and St Paul’s in London. Semana Santa, southern Spain’s Holy Week processions, clogs the streets with participants arriving from all over southern Spain’s Andalucia region.

The Alcazar, dating from the 10th century and built by the Moors, was rebuilt in the 14th century for the Christian King Pedro I, but even the rebuild was done by Muslim workmen. The intricate tile floors and decorative walls reflect the craftsmanship of some 300 artisans required to complete the task.

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We stood in the room where Columbus, returning from the New World, waited to meet Queen Isabella. Simple furnishings probably graced the rooms, so as not to compete with the intricate details of the floors, ceilings and walls. Note the open door on the upper balcony. It allowed music from below to reach the upper floors. An early example of an amplifying system, I suppose.

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The gardens are magnificent, as were the garden’s permanent residents.

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The peacock and duck on the left are inseparable friends, unless food is involved. The peacock looks like he is the eventual winner.

The Cathedral of Seville is built on the site of a mosque built of brick which was torn down in 1401. The high altar, protected by a Renaissance grille, is the largest ever made at 65 feet tall with 44 scenes from the life of Jesus and Mary. It is carved from walnut and chestnut and covered with a staggering amount of gold leaf. It took 3 generations to complete (1481 to 1564). Baby Jesus in the manger is in the bottom row, middle, and the Crucifixion is at the top, a dizzying height.

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The Cathedral is the final resting place of the remains of Christopher Columbus. He was buried in northwest Spain, where he died, then moved to a monastery in Seville, then to the Dominican Republic, which was his request, then to Cuba. When Cuba gained independence from Spain in 1902, he was again moved to this final resting place. In 2006, DNA samples confirmed the validity of the remains.

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His casket is carried by 4 kings, representing the regions of Castile, Aragon, Leon and Navarre. Leon has a cross with a pike end, piercing a pomegranate, the symbol of Grenada, the last Moorish-ruled city to be recaptured, driving the Moors from Spain in 1492.

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A typical sarcophagus found in the Cathedral, this one holding the remains of an archbishop of Seville.

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The baptismal font is large enough to be a reasonably-sized hot tub.

With the crowds gathering for Semana Santa, and the area around the Cathedral becoming a pedestrian-only sanctuary, Francesco secured the last taxi allowed in to the area, which allowed us to ride quickly back to our bus and return to the Rotterdam.

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Two tough days, and the Queen is still looking reasonably perky, although the hair has been replaced by a hat, due to the high winds that normally inhabit Cadiz.

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