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Explore the former Jewish quarter of Santa Cruz


Cathedral


Size up the splendour of Seville’s huge cathedral


Seville Cathedral has two striking features. The first is its size – it’s the biggest Gothic cathedral and one of the three biggest cathedrals in the world, alongside St Paul’s in London and St Peter’s in Rome.


The second is the cathedral bell


tower, the Giralda. The brick-built minaret of the mosque which previously stood on the site, the Giralda is the most-beautiful building in Seville. The Spanish conquerors of the city in the 13th century converted it into the cathedral bell tower, merely adding the bells. They also preserved the Courtyard of Orange Trees (Patio de los Naranjos) which formed part of the mosque. In fact, initially, they retained the entire mosque, converting it


into a cathedral. But the structure was damaged by a subsequent earthquake and replaced by the Gothic cathedral on which work began in the 15th century. The cathedral was completed in just over 100 years, although its final form belongs to the 19th century. The Giralda is worth ascending


both to appreciate the building and for the views of the city it offers from the top. Rather than the narrow steps inside most minarets – and medieval towers – the ascent of the Giralda is via ramps wide enough for mounted horses to pass one another. Inside the cathedral lies the


tomb of Christopher Columbus, whose remains – there is some dispute as to whether they are


authentic – were moved from Cuba in 1902. This is also the burial place of Hernando Colon, second son of Columbus, who amassed a great library that is housed in the cathedral complex. Seville Cathedral’s altarpiece is the largest and ‘richest’ in the world, with the wood carving adorned with two tonnes of gold shipped from the Americas. The detail is extraordinary, right down to the cuticles of the fingernails of figures even at a height where such detail is barely visible. The cathedral is home to works


by the 17th century baroque painter Murillo, who was born in Seville, while its two baroque organs are considered among the


best in the world. › Business sessions, pages 14-16


Close by the Alcazar and cathedral lies the oldest district of Seville, the former Jewish quarter of Santa Cruz. Once the intellectual heart of the city, Santa Cruz was protected by the crown in the first centuries of Christian rule. But the walls built to protect the quarter became the walls of a ghetto following the Inquisition in the late 15th century. Today, Santa Cruz’s narrow streets are wonderfully atmospheric. The city beyond is equally pleasurable to wander. Most major sights are on the north bank of the Guadalquivir river, but there is at least one area to the south worth exploring – Trianna, which lies between two of the central bridges. This was the Gitano area


where the great families of Sevillian flamenco came from. Many of the families were driven from the area by developers at the end of the 20th century, but Trianna remains worth visiting and Betis – a street of glorious, coloured houses on the southern bank – is unmissable. The convention venue and main hotel, the Barcelo Sevilla Renacimiento, lies just across the river to the south of the city centre. If there is a time, a boat trip on the Guadalquivir is worthwhile. There is a departure point close by the venue. Ask the hotel for details.


Santa Cruz district


4 October 2018 travelweekly.co.uk 13


PICTURES: SHUTTERSTOCK


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