Trianna, Azulejos, and Susona’s Skull…

You may recall from previous posts, my scraps of information on ‘azulejos’. Essentially, ‘azulejos’ are beautiful ceramic tiles made here in Sevilla. They can be found inside every home, on the streets, inside the churches, and sold in stores all over town. And, Sevilla has been celebrated for the creation of azulejos since Roman times. When and if I stop this globetrotting and settle in one place, I’d love to decorate with these beautiful tiles.

I live in ‘Triana’ which is a fasinating, historical barrio (neighborhood) in Sevilla. There is a museum located in the old tile factory here and MaryCarmen and I decided to meet there on Saturday for a visit. The Museo, formally the ‘Santa Ana Factory’, illustrates the ceramic making process using the four elements: Earth (the mud), water, fire, and air. The Santa Ana Factory opened its doors in 1870 and was a staple here until 2014. It gets its name from the patron Saint of Triana. Also, inside the Museo, is a room devoted entirely to Triana. 

 The people with deep roots in Trianna are called ‘Trianeros’ and they strongly identify with their barrio! Sort of like myself when I tell people I am from ‘Cranston’.

 Trianna is also considered the spiritual heart of flamenco. Pero, Sevilliano’s have their very own dance and it’s called the ‘Sevillana’ dance. This dance is vivid and full of turns and is so super fun to watch! I’m pretty sure I am the only person in this entire town that does not know how to do this dance. But, I am pretty confident that I am going to learn in time. On Friday night MaryCarmen took Manuel and I to a place to watch this dance. It was really fun! I am totaling drifting off the subject…

Raquel grandfather was a skilled potter and worked all of his life in the Santa Ana factory. The name for this job position is ‘alfarero’. These people truly amaze me. Inside the Museo, they play a black and white movie showcasing these workers giving their commentary of their life working in the factory. MaryCarmen and I sat and watched this short, very moving, movie. 

MaryCarmen inside ‘Centro de la Cerámica de Triana’.

We spent hours in the museo learning about the history of the azulejos and Trianna. Then, just as we were getting ready to leave, we hear ‘the music’. They were moving a Virgin! This music always coats both of us with goosebumps! We love it! The night before Manuel told us that they would be moving a Virgin today, but I had lost track of time. We heard the music, took one look at each other, and immediately starting searching a way towards the vicinity of the band. We pussyfooted our way onto a balcony and closed the door behind us. Now we had a prime spot and it was fantastic!

They view from the balcony at the ‘Centro de la Cerámica de Triana’. We were watching the band and Virgin.

We stayed and watched the band and took it all in for several minutes. And then, at the same time, we both realized that we should physically proceed OFF of the balcony of the Museo before we got caught. So we did. And, we left and made our way through Trianna to get home for dinner. 

On Sunday we went on another adventure to ‘Susona’s Street’. This came about because I have a never-ending, constantly growing list on things to do in my iPhone notes. I literally have enough material to keep this blog going for the rest of my life-not including all the stuff I still will see! It panics me to think about it actually. It really does! There is just so much to see and so much good food to eat and so much to learn in this world that I can’t even stand it!! 

Sevilla has a lot of legends and I love to learn about them! One of the most tragic, and Raquel’s favorite, is ‘la fermosa fembra’. And, it goes like this…

Susona, a beautiful Jewish Sevillian girl, had a secret romance with a Christian man. The legend transpired in the 15th century and Jews were going through incredibly grueling times in Spain. The Jews were being coerced to convert to Christianity. And, in an effort to give the Christians a taste of their own medicine, the Jews called a meeting to plot their revenge. One of the leaders of this conspiracy was Diego Susón, the father of Susona. It was at his house that the Jews met to sort out the details of their vengeance. Well, Susona heard their entire plan. She ran to her lover and in fearing that he could be killed, she divulged everything. As a result, Susona’s father and his entire crew of Jewish leaders were executed. 

Susona had immense remorse and shame for what she had done. Some people tell me that Susona hung herself. Some people tell me that Susona never left her house again. Some people tell me that she lived the remainder of her life in a convent. However, regardless of how she spent the rest of her years, her final wish stands true. Susona’s last will in her testament was to have her skull placed at the door of her house. And, it was here that the skull remained, well into the 18th century.

The Jewish Quarter in Sevilla.
The plaque on ‘Susona’s Calle’ and the spot where the skull was kept until the 18th century.
Me under ‘Susona’s plaque’.
MaryCarmen at the top of ‘Susona’s Calle’.
MaryCarmen and I at the fountain in the ‘Jewish Quarter’.

Casa de Pilatos…una tarde de miércoles en Sevilla.

Today Raquel and I visited the ‘Casa de Pilatos’. This is a palace and it was declared as a National Monument in 1931. The ‘House of Pilate’ was built by ‘The First Marquis of Tarifa’ between the 15th and 16th century and is currently the permanent residence of the ‘Dukes of Medinacelli’. The ‘Dukes of Medinacelli’ is a title of Spanish nobility created by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. (‘Nobility’ is simply a social class ranked immediately under royalty).The ‘Marquis of Tarifa’ is an ancient title of Spanish nobility that dates back to the Middle Ages. This palace is said to be named after Pontius Pilate because it looks like his home in Jerusalem. (Pontius Pilate is known as the authority that ordered the crusafiction of Jesus Christ). The ‘Casa de Pilatos’is considered to be the prototype of the Andalusian Palace. Oh and the movie ‘Knight and Day’ with Tom Cruise and Cameron Dias was filmed here.

The palace is a combination of Italian Renaissance and Spanish Mudejar, which is a quite the integration!’Mudejar’ is the name given to Muslims who remained in Iberia after the Christian Reconquista but did not convert to Christianity. The Italian Renaissance style is beautifully proportioned (literally). Everything is balenced with orderly arranged columns and semi circular arches. The Spanish Mudejar’s elaborate plasterwork and complicated tiling patterns make this palace a perfect example of Mudejar architecture as you can see here…

Azulejos-beautiful Spanish ceramic tiles.
There is a rooster in this wall…
‘The Chapel of Flagellation’. This is the alter. The mosaics make it look like a mosque. Notice the Roman statue on the alter.

This staircase is decorated from the ceiling to the floor with beautiful azulejo. Azulejo’s are beautiful Spanish ceramic tiles. This style is all over Sevilla and most places in Andalusia. There are little shops everywhere selling these beautiful tiles. I plan to go to a factory that makes them next week so I can see and learn how it is done. 


Beyond this gate is a elegant Andalusian courtyard with a large fountain in the middle. All around the walls of the courtyard are marble busts of Spanish Kings and Roman emperors, most of which were delivered straight from Naples. There is a large georgeous statue of Pallas Athenea the Greek Goddess. She is the goddess of wisdom, courage, mathematics, war and strategy, and she is known for her calm temperament because she moves slowly towards anger. She would never fight without a purpose. She seriously reminds me of my friend Frani.

There is a rooster that is built into the wall and a legend that goes along with it. I am still trying to get to the bottom of this and the virgins!! In the bible, Jesus predicts at the last supper that the apostle Peter will deny him three times before the rooster sounds. I think someone brought back the ashes of this rooster and put them in the wall, according to this legend. I need to ask Raquel about this.

In one of the rooms upstairs, there is a wall of ‘frescos’. Frescos is a technique used to paint a mural on wet lime plaster so that it actually becomes an integral part of the wall. These particular frescos were painted by Francisco Pacheco, the father in law and teacher of Diego Valázquez. Valázquez was a very important Spanish painter during the Baroque period. 

It was another great day. I came back home and made it to my 8:00 spin class. Edgar made us pork chops for dinner and they were delicious! These people sure do love their pork! 

I going to visit my good friends in Belgium this weekend and am really looking forward to it!

¡Holy Jamòn! A day in Aracena, España

When Raquel and I had dinner after the Museo on Friday, we concocted a plan to go to Aracena for the ‘Jamòn Ibérico Feria’. Now I have come to realize that if anything characterizes Spain, it is the wide variety of traditions and festivals spread throughout the territory. Aracena is a very small village located 47 miles northeast out of Sevilla in the province of Huelva. And this town is seriously devoted to the production of Jamòn Ibérico! Jamòn Ibérico is a delectable cured meat that is from Black Iberian Pigs. These pigs roam oak forests along the border between Spain and Portugal eating only a acorn diet. And, occasionally olives. The hams are categorized by the pigs diet and the percentage of Iberian ancestry. In compliance with Spain’s Denominación de Origen Rules on food products these pigs need only be 50% Ibérico. The outstanding, superior, and premium is Jamòn Ibérico de Bellota (acorn). And this grade is broken down into two categories. The black label recognizes 100% Ibérico pure breed Iberian pigs fed only an acorn diet. The red label distinguishes Jamòn Ibérico de Bellota from free range pigs that are not pure breed but have also fed exclusively on acorns. The percentage of Iberian ancestry must be specified on the label. The next grade is the green label Jamòn Ibérico Cebo de Campo. This ham is from pigs that are pasteurized and fed acorns and grain. And, lastly, the 3rd type and final grade is a white label called Jamòn Ibérico de Cebo or simply Jamon Ibérico. These pigs are fed only grain and cured for 24 months. Moreover, the word puro  can be added to any of the above when both the mother and the father are pure breed and they are both registered. Also, in addition, the term Paleta refers to the front legs, Jamòn to the hind legs, and caña de limo referring to loin cuts. The curing process is anywhere from 12 months to 48 months. I’d love nothing more than to continue this discussion and to more extensive lengths, but I will get back to the feria. 

Raquel and Manuel picked me up at 10:00 on Sunday morning and the three of us were off to Aracena! And I could not be more excited! It was a beautiful road trip and these two familiarized me with everything from the ‘Encina tree’ and  ‘Belotta’ to the ‘Rio Tinto River’ (a river that literally looks like red wine was dumped in it), and even NASA presence in this region (Manuel says that the dirt is similar to the dirt that is on Mars!). 

The Fountain of Tears.
The Town of Aracena.
 
Our first stop in Aracena was ‘The fountain of Tears’. We immediately whipped out the selfie stick and went to town (yes, Jan, a selfie stick)! The legend at this fountain says that the daughter of a Christian King fell in love with an Arabic man. This upset the King so deeply that he buried his daughter alive. She cried so many tears from being lovesick that they came through the earth-hence the fountain.

Advancing along, we were headed down the road en route to the feria. 

The town of Aracena.
 

We stopped in a beautiful little gourmet store to do a little cheese tasting. And we bought some cheese to take home.

The goats that produce this incredible cheese are fed an acorn diet as well.

 

We had arrived at the feria and it was astonishing. Really truly extraordinary.

Jamon Iberico from ceiling to floor.
Chorizo.
Papas fritas!
Aceite de Oliva Tortait is amazing!
This is ‘Dulce de Membrillo’ which is a sweet thick jelly made from the pulp of the quince tree.
Mermelada de Castañas-it is so delish!!!
Granada (pomegranite), Almendras (almonds), and mi Castañas (chestnuts).

Manuel and Raquel ordered our Ibérico ham and we walked to the bar with our plate of Jamòn. We than ordered Miga’s and pimentos fritos. Miga’s are quite possibly the best thing I have ever ate in my life! I had seriously died and went to chorizo heaven! I was so thirsty that I must have drank a gallon of Fanta limón. We ordered little pork sandwiches called ‘montaditos de lomo’and more Miga’s. We just walked around eating all afternoon and it was marvelous! There were massive tents set up and people cooking everywhere I looked!!! The chorizo has an ancient, unaffected origin as it is closely linked to ‘the slaughter of the pig’. This is a gastronomic, festive, cultural, and religious tradition in most rural villages of Spain. And, here was the very best chorizo that I had ever had! Needless to say when Raquel spotted a booth selling 10 quality links for €10, we all pitched in and brought some home! We also brought home many other items from leche frita, to miel with piñon. 

The village of Aracena.

Aracena is also known for ‘La Gruta de la Maravillas’ or ‘The Cave of Wonders’. It is a limestone cave located under the ground in the old center of Aracena. The length of this cave is over 1 kilometer (.62 mile), and has 3 levels and 6 lakes. There is even a room that looks like a Cathedral!

The water in the lakes is naturally this shade of blue.

I was very interested to learn how caves like this are formed so Manuel gave me a little science class. And here it is in a castaña nut shell: Stalactites, which comes from the Greek word “to drip”, is a type of formatiom that hangs from the ceiling of caves. Stalagmites is the formation that comes from the ground. Stalactites form from the deposition (deposition occurs when sediment (sediment can be any naturally occurring material that is broken down by a process. Por ejemplo, weathering and erosion) are added to a landform (a landform is a natural feature of the solid surface of the Earth. Por ejemplo, hills and the sea)) of calcium carbonate (common substance found in rocks), and other minerals, which is precipitated (creation of a solid from a solution) from mineralized water solutions (a mixture compose of two or more substances). The solution travels through the rock until it reaches an edge and if this is on the roof of a cave, it will drop down. The average growth is .13 mm a year! 

The cave tour took about an hour. And, lastly on our way out of Aracena we stopped and visited the Medieval Castle and Priory Church of la Senora del Major Dolor. 
You can see the castle in the background of this picture of Raquel and I.

I think this was my favorite day so far in Spain! Everything about it was amazing!!! I had the creme de la creme of friends for company, delectable food, a cave that was millions of years old, historic castles, a selfie stick, and Ibérico Jamon! So I ask you, what else could a girl ask for?

The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordóba 

On Saturday I woke up very early to catch the high speed train to Córdoba. I had planned to spend the day and wouldn’t be returning back home until around 11:00pm. I woke up so tired and I really felt like I had a learning hangover! My brain is getting so much exercise these days! I fell asleep on the train and woke up in Córdoba 45 minutes later to discover that my internet wasn’t working. Needless to say, my first stop would have to be ‘vonafone’. How would I possibly get around Córdoba without my numerous travel apps and without Internet? This was a disaster!! Truly an emergency! I manage to speak enough Espanol, find a paper map in the train station, and get myself to a ‘Corte Ingles’ where I find Vodafone on the 4th floor next to men’s sneakers. This is all so weird, but okay I have no choice! I need the Internet! Corte Ingles is comparable to a Macy’s, for all intents and purposes. While waving around my phone and speaking Spanglish, I manage to convey my HUGE problem to the young Spanish girl behind the counter and 30 minutes later my phone is back in action! This all came as a huge relief! While I am sightseeing, I am on my phone teaching myself history and everything and anything I desire. I couldn’t possibly wait until I get home to do this! So now that this is settled, I head in the direction (thanks to google maps), of one of the most exceptional monuments in the world-‘The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba’.

The Autonmous Community of Andalusia is divided into 8 provinces: Almeria, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga, and Sevilla. And, it is the only European region with both Meditearanean and Atlantic coastlines. As of today, I have been to 4 out of the 8 provinces and I’m determined to work my way through all! And, Andalusia continues to exceed my expectations! It’s just amazing, really! 

To simplify this whole situation, ‘The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordóba’ is a Mosque that contains a Christian Church. It is an extradronary blend of Moorish and Christian Architecture. Here is a very ill-defined breakdown of how this all went down. First the Romans built a pagen temple. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Visigoths replaced it with the church of Saint Vincent. Than the Arabs conquered in the 8th century and built their great Mosque. Than the Christians re-conquered Cordóba in 1236, and they did what it is that they do, and instead of bothering to build a new church they simply converted the building to Christianity and put an alter in the middle! This breakdown is painful for me to write because I would love nothing more than to write an entire book on this one subject, however we lack the time and the space. The original Mosque had lots of open arches because it was set up for worship in the shadows of the central area. The Christians covered and sealed these openings and are using them for a backdrop for various Saints. Since the year 1236, without missing a single day, the Chapter has held Holy Mass for the Christian community in this beautiful and magnificent temple. The Catholic people of Cordóba say “I went to mass at the Mosque”! Only in Spain could I imagine hearing this!

Intricate Ceiling Designs.
Engraved on the Choir Chairs is The Stations of the Cross-no two chairs are exavtly the same.
Rows of Choir Chairs.
The Alter
The Working Organ inside the Mosque.
The Double Arches Throughout.
The massive wall surrounding the Mosque.
The Bell Tower

These pictures truly do not do this spectacular massive structure any justice.

After spending over two hours walking around and taking it all in, I realized that I was hungry. I left the Mosque in search of some tapas. I was walking down a narrow street and turned a corner to look up and find what I soon discovered to be ‘The Roman Temple of Cordóba’.

The remains of a Roman Temple that I discovered by an accident.

That is exactly how it happened…I was just walking down the street looking for some food and I stumbled upon a Roman Temple!!

After some research (thank God for the Internet and the little  girl that helped me fix my phone), I ascertained that these ruins were discovered in 1950’s during an expansion to Córdoba’s city hall. Come to find out, the temple was built during the 2nd half of the 1st century. What remains is the foundation, the stairs, the alter and some shafts of columns and capitals (capitals are the top of the columns). The highlight of this set is the foundation which is arranged in a fan shape. This massive foundation tells us the magnitude that the temple could have held! Amazing!! It is said that this temple could have been visible from ‘Via Augusta’. ‘Via Augusta’ was a Roman road crossing all of España named after Emperor Augustus. Again, I could go on and on but you get the idea.

Next I was off to explore the Jewish Quarter. Raquel is quite fond of the layout and design in these particular sections of town and she had mentioned that in Córdoba the Jewish Quarter was respectively beautiful. 




It had happened again! I was just walking down the street and I stumbled upon this candy maker! Roman Ruins/Candy maker-equally as important!! I stayed in this store for over an hour observing this candy man! It is a true art and he has it down to a science. Needless to say, I took home a big strip wrapped in plastic wrap. I sampled ‘Mantecados’ which are little bread desserts made from pork fat given to us from the Christian Heritage and now this ‘almendras caramelizades or garrapinadas’! The second dessert was from Arab influence. Both equally delish!!!

I than head towards ‘Puerta del Puente’.

And than over the ‘Roman Bridge’ I go as I head towards the ‘Mills of the Guadalquivir’.

The Roman Bridge of Cordoba.


The ‘Mills of the Guadalquivir’ are moorish era buildings that took advantage of the water force to grind flour. And, all of this is beautiful.

The ‘Puerta del Puente’ or ‘Gate of the Bridge’ was built simply because in the 16th century, the authorities decided that the city needed a new door. 

Surrounding the large old town Córdoba are Roman walls which I find myself walking in and out of all throughout the day. Córdoba is home to 12 Christian churches (many as transformations of mosques) that were built under Ferdinand III of Castile.

I stopped and visited several of these churches lighting candles for my loved ones as I roamed the beautiful streets of Cordóba. 

Ruta de Patios del Alcázar Viejo.

The last thing on my list of things to do before dusk was visit the ‘Royal Stables’. The Royal Stables is a breading place for Andalusian horses. These beautiful horses are simply breathtaking. They even have a graceful walk and I stare at them every time they walk by. King Philip is responsible for these horses and it goes something like this…

The Royal Stables of Cordoba.

King Philip II, who was a great lover of horses, set out on a scheme to create a pure thoroughbred Spanish horse. And for this reason in 1570 he ordered the Royal Stables to be built. It was in this magical setting where he bred the Spanish horse known as Andalusian horses. 

I headed towards the train station stopping to purchase some ‘castaña’s’. And, I was back at Gloria’s in no time at all. When I arrived back home, Gloria and Monica were watching a Sevillana dance competition. And, this is beautiful and such an art. We’ll talk about this another day!

Museo de Bellas Artes

This weekend I learned so much that my head hurts! This past Friday, Raquel and I went to the ‘Museo de Bellas Artes’ or ‘The Museum of Fine Arts’.  This is a beautiful museum that was originally home to a convent and its collections are predominately assets confiscated from the church. Sevilla is the 4th largest city in Spain and this is the 2nd biggest art gallery in all of Spain.

Raquel enlightened me on everything from Gothic architecture to what signifies Baroque in paintings. The building is organized around three courtyards and we walked from room to room talking for hours. This picture was taken in the former church of the ‘Convent of La Merced’. This room is the grand backdrop for displaying the 17th century Sevillian School of painting. Bartolome Esteban Murillo was the biggest player of this period. In the 17th and 18th century, Murillo was one of the most famous artists in all of Europe and his paintings considered to be the truimph of the Spanish Baroque. His paintings were considered to be so valuable that at one point the king forbade their export. Murillo was a deeply religious man and almost all of his paintings are religious in nature. He earned Spain’s top accolades throughout the 1660’s and 1670’s. Than in 1680, while Murillo was painting the main alterpiece for Capuchins Church in Cádiz he fell from the scaffolding. He died a few months later and was buried in front of his favorite painting in the Cathedral of Sevilla.

We continued to walk and talk discussing everything from ‘Claroscuro technique’ to ‘Santa Justa and Santa Rufina by Murillo’. Saints Justa and Rufina were sisters venerated as martyers in the 3rd century. Their legend states that they lived in Triana. Trianna is the barrio in Sevilla where I am currently living. These sisters made and sold pottery with which they supported themselves and many of the city’s poor.  It is said that one day during a pagan festival (defining pagan is problematic for me), these sisters refused to sell their pottery. The locals broke all of their dishes and in turn they retaliated by smashing an image of Venus. The sisters were imprisoned for this and asked to renounce their faith. They refused and were tortured, beaten, burned on coals, deprived food and water, thrown to lions and finally strangled and beheaded. And, than Murillo painted them.

We continued to walk and discuss ‘Vanitas’ and this lead to the subject of ‘vanity’. This is a good thing because there is a lot to say on the subject of ‘Vanitas’. It is here that I learn that vanity comes from the Latin word vanitas, meaning everything must die. Interesting, I think and then we start to wonder why there are so many paintings of Virgins and moons. In researching this, I learn that the moon was a symbol of purity and that the Virgin Mary was often portrayed in paintings on top of a perfectly smooth moon during this era. Por ejemplo, Murillo’s ‘Immaculate Conception’ which the Vatican later named the ‘Assumption of the Virgin’.

I left the visit to the ‘Museo de Bellas Artes’ with even an understanding of Gustavio Adolfo Becquer, a post romanticist poet! As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Raquel is the perfect tour guide and I really hit the jackpot!! The list of things I’ve come to know from the visit is really endless and I could go on and on. And, for all of this, I feel very blessed!

Córdoba, Christopher Columbus, y Castañas.

My week is coming to a close and I am ready for mi fin de semana! The weather has cooled down drastically and I am wearing my fall clothes!  I love it! Even the leaves are changing color. Which brings me to the ‘Castañas’, otherwise known as ‘Chestnuts’. Castañas are cultivated throughout Andalusia and in season from October-December. Vendors set up shop with their little carts right on the streets of Sevilla. They actually roast the Castañas right in front of you and then place them in a paper cone. They are positively delicious and this little delacacy has become my new addiction. One vendor told me today that there are 4-5 varieties. Raquel, Manuel, and I are going to a ibérico jamòn festival on Sunday so needless to say, I will be doing a bit more R&D on this subject.

Wednesday October 12th was ‘Día de Hispanidad’. Basically, for all intents and purposes, instead of celebrating Columbus Day on the second Monday in October like the United States, it is celebrated on October 12th. I had planned to go to Cordóba but my blah blah car driver canceled our trip due to rain. I was fine with the cancelation and rescheduled my trip to Cordóba for this Saturday. I thought since the final resting place for Christopher Columbus is in the Sevilla Cathedral, that surely I was in store for a huge procesion and all kinds of festivities. However this was not the case. After hearing this tidbit of information, I contimplated giving up completely on trying to figure out the Seviliano’s and their traditions. But instead, I think I will die trying. We all stayed at home and the rain carried on until nighttime. Gloria pretty much cooked all day, which is always such a treat. I wound up studying for 12 hours with only one break. At 6:00 I went to a absolutely beautiful church in mi barrio to see a procesíon. The churches in Spain are, in my opinion, by far the most spectacular in all of Europe. Simply breath taking.

Madre de Dios del Rosario.

Today MaryCmarmen taught me how to use the metro. It is quite simple and I didn’t end up in Portugal. I had really thought this to be a possibility. And I was certain that if it were possible, that I would manage it!

Lenteja Lunes

This Wednesday is ‘Dia de Hispanidad’. As a result, my schedule this week has changed and I have no school this morning. I will explain more about this holiday later in the week. I decided to take advantage of this schedule change and go about Sevilla exploring…

This morning I started out with the ‘Torre del Oro’, which translates to the ‘Tower of Gold’.

Picture taken from Triana Bridge.

The Torre del Oro is a dodecagonal (12 sided) military watch tower located in Sevilla on the Guadalquivir River. The Guadalquivir River is the second longest river in Spain and is mostly used by drug smugglers these days. I think mostly hashish coming in from Morocco (just a guess). But back in the 13th century it was used to export port, oil, wool, wine, metal, cheese, etc throughout all of Europe. The ‘Torre del Oro’ was built in the 13th century around 1220 and was the last major building that the Muslims constructed in Sevilla. It was originally built to prevent the Christians from attacking Sevilla from the water (some good this did!). It was mainly used as a watch tower designed to protect the docks. King Pedro kept treasures of gold and silver in this tower and also hid his mistresss here. King Pedro also goes by ‘Peter the Cruel’. I laugh to myself every time I hear the name ‘Peter the Cruel’, because as a little girl (and possibly as a young adult), I used to refer to my Uncle Peter by this name (behind his back, of course). Some say this is where the tower got its name. However, there are two conflicting stories as to how the tower actually got its name. The other story states that after a restoration in 2005, experts discovered that the building was covered with lime and straw mortor giving it this golden reflection.  

Throughout the years, the ‘Torre del Oro’ has been restored countless times and nearly demolished twice by earthquakes. It has been used as a fortress, a post office, a chapel, a gun powder warehouse, a prison, and even the Guadalquivir River Company main office. Than in 1936 the Maritime Museam was installed in the tower showcasing the navel history of Sevilla.

I had a beautiful, relaxing morning and enjoyed visiting this naval museum. I walked home to get ready to go to school and discovered that Gloria had made her lentil soup or sopa de lenteja. I LOVE her lentil soup! I honestly don’t know what she does to these lentils but it’s just so delicious! And very clean and light, especially for lentil soup. I sat down and ate a bowl and than left for school. I later texted Gloria from school asking if she would save me some soup for dinner and she did-and it was delicious! I had it with picos for dinner.

I could go on and on about pico’s, but basically all you need to know (if you don’t already), is that they are like hard little breadsticks and they are painfully addictive. They are made with toasted sesame seeds that you crush with a mortar and pestle. And, the pico’s go well with everything!!