Posts tagged ‘Seville’

The Alcazar: Courtyard of the Maidens

If Seville Cathedral was ever so slightly disappointing, as I discussed in my last post, then the Alcazar (sited on the opposite side of the Plaza del Triunfo) made up for that in spades.

Originally built-in the early 10th Century as a castle for the Cordoban governors of Seville, the Alcazar has been developed over the subsequent 1000 years by both Muslim and Christian rulers in to a stunningly beautiful palace complex.

The images below are all of the Patio de las Doncellas or Courtyard of the Maidens, which sits at the heart of the Alcazar’s most magnificent palace, the Palacio de Don Pedro – named after Pedro I, the 14th Century ruler of Seville responsible for its construction.

Courtyard of the Maidens 1

Courtyard of the Maidens 2

Courtyard of the Maidens 3

Courtyard of the Maidens 4

Courtyard of the Maidens 5

Courtyard of the Maidens 6

Courtyard of the Maidens 7

I have plenty more shots of the Alcazar to share over the next few days…..:0)

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

Seville Cathedral

Before we went to Andalucia I had read about Seville Cathedral being, apparently, the largest Gothic example of its kind in the world. Given this rather grandiose description, and the fact that I have seen some rather impressive medieval Cathedrals back home in the UK (Westminster Abbey, York Minster, Durham, Lichfield, Salisbury and Canterbury to name just a few) I don’t mind telling you that I was expecting something preeeeety big from Seville.

Unfortunately, when I finally clapped eyes on this “monster” for myself, I have to admit to being ever so slightly underwhelmed.

I think the problem is that when I think of a Cathedral I think of very tall buildings, with spires and towers soaring up towards the heavens………and Seville just isn’t like that. The main body of the Cathedral (discounting the Giralda bell tower) is only 37m high. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s not insubstantial, but that height just isn’t in proportion to the 126m long by 83m wide rest of the building. So what you get, rather than the usual soaring, slender and elegant Cathedral buildings that I’m used to, is something that is frankly a bit squat and a bit too square.

What I do like about Seville though, is the variety of architectural styles that it encompasses. To start with, it is a real clash of two cultures – Islamic and Christian. The original 12th Century Mosque was consecrated as a Cathedral in 1248, after the Christians finally reconquered the city from the Moors. However, during the subsequent Christian re-development works (mainly from the 15th Century Gothic through the 16th Century Renaissance to the 17th Century Baroque) the Mosque’s beautiful Orange Tree Courtyard was conserved as was the minaret, which today forms the lower two-thirds of the magnificent 98m tall Giralda bell tower:

The Giralda

Giralda Framed

Orange Tree Courtyard

Door of the Prince

A major disadvantage in having a building that is so long and wide, but relatively low, is that what windows there are really struggle to let in enough light to see properly…let alone take photographs. This is exacerbated by the fact that light is further restricted because the long North side of the Cathedral faces out into the dappled shade of the Orange Tree Courtyard, and the equally long South side is adorned with a maze of chapels, rooms and passages.

To be honest, I’d be hard pressed to think of a Cathedral building that was as poorly lit as Seville….and that is saying something. This, coupled with the fact that I was a “travelling-light-without-tripod-tourist-photographer”, made for less than ideal photographic conditions.

So I apologise in advance for the interior shots below – but needs must I’m afraid as I had to seriously compromise with wide-apertures and high-ISO settings. Well either that or simply not to bother at all…….which of course would never do. Note to self though – must invest in a light travel tripod.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)


For our week in Andalucia we based ourselves in the town of Osuna, about half-way between Seville and Granada. Because it’s not really part of the main tourist trail, Osuna offers visitors the chance to sample a quieter, more “authentic” Andalucian experience. However because it’s fairly central, most of the region’s main tourist attractions are within fairly easy reach. It was the perfect place to stay, especially as it wasn’t without charms of its own, as I hope the following images demonstrate:

Sun Shades

Although not strictly necessary, given that we visited in September, the shady canopies hanging above the streets did offer some welcome relief from the strong Andalucian sun. To the locals it probably wasn’t strong at all….but to pale-faced North Europeans it was hot enough thank you very much.

Monasterio de la Encarnacion 2

A twilight shot of the monastery in the Plaza de la Encarnacion.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

Torre del Oro

For those who have been following my blog, you’ll know that we went to Andalucia in Spain last week for a short break. You won’t be surprised to hear therefore, that I’m planning a series of posts over the next couple of weeks to document this trip.

To get the ball rolling here is a shot of the Torre del Oro, one of Seville’s most recognisable landmarks. Built in the 13th Century by the Almohad dynasty of Muslim rulers, this watchtower by the river once had a dome covered in golden tiles, hence its name…..”Tower of Gold”.

Torre del Oro

It’s a simple shot, but I like the composition and the presence of the palm trees adds an extra dimension….not bad considering it was grabbed from the back of a taxi…..;0).

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

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