Sevilla – a City of Culture

15 days in Sevilla barely allows one to touch its cultural richness. The Oficina de Information Turistica provides an Horario Monumentos Sevilla Capital – containing a list of 40 sites.  Then there are the out of town options to add to these. Narrowed the options down to arts and archaeology, with no more than one site a day.

Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo (hmmm – modern portraits and some inscrutable works), the historical Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevillia (centuries of classical works) and the Museo de Artes y Costumbres (unfortunately the costumes floor was closed for conservation works, but there was un exposicion temporal of flamenco costumes createdby Lina, a famous costumier). Check this link ( http://vimeo.com/66711074). IMG_0004 IMG_0003 IMG_0002 IMG_0001A whole room is devoted to exquisite handmade lace – from the simplest (comparatively speaking!) of lace trims right through to collars, cuffs and mantillas. By way of contrast, daily life in pre-industrial trades – in a series of vaults accompanied by old film footage, each set up as a real working space: olive press, barrel making, tanner, bakery, castanet maker, iron forge and so on – providing a glimpse into the intensively manual labour of the ordinary working person.

Archaeology was a covered by visits to a couple of sites – Carmona and Italica, and the Museo Archaeologico and Antiquarium.

Carmona is a one-hour bus ride out of Sevilla. 2500 years ago, it was a centre of Roman culture, commerce and activity; December 2013, it was closed for maintenance. So quiet in fact, that the owners of tapas bars around the tiny plaza almost argued with you to get you into their premises! The archaeology museum there is renowned. Regrettably, on this day, it was closed for repairs to the entrance, with a sign “No molestar los trabajoras”.  There were no intentions to molestar anyone, let alone los trabajoras, but the side entry could not possibly be used either. Even the cathedral was closed! At least the Prioral de Santa Maria was open – it was a pretty little church … although its most outstanding feature was that it was open. After that, settled for a walk around the town … and from one end to the other. All 800m of it. And zigzagged across it several times just for interest. Found the south entry gate and, looking back at it, one could appreciate the strategic positioning of the town.  IMG_0156_2The highlight of Carmona was a magnificent Roman mosaic now located in the centre of the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall).

The mosaic was discovered in the 1920s, left in situ and was incorporated into the new building.

 

Italica, the birthplace of Roman emperors Trajan and Hadrian, is located in Santiponce, a small town on the outskirts of Sevilla. There is an impressive roman theatre – closed – but you could look through the chain mail fence. A reproduction roman house – closed. And then there’s the townsite of Italica – open and impressive (although I am of the view that the primary school children were enjoying the little train ride more than the ruins). The site was a rich source of artefacts – most of which have been removed to the Museo Archaeologico in Sevilla! However, the remaining mosaics were impressive – better than anything I’ve seen in Italy. IMG_0354IMG_0353An amphitheatre, capable of holding 25,000 spectators, is in sound condition – but sections were closed for safety reasons.

Given most of the interesting stuff had been removed to the Museo Archaeologico that necessitated a visit there. The curation is impressive – focussed on Seville and its surrounds – and the collection from Italica, including many superb mosaics and sculptures.  The museum covers the neolithic, paleolithic, phonecian and roman eras in the Guadalquivir River valley in such a manner that one can appreciate the evolution of civilisation and the influences of different cultures in the region.