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"Torre del Oro" remains as it was built in 1220 —


Southern Spain

except, indeed, for the small turret or superstructure
added in the eighteenth century. It is said, too, that
it was once adorned with beautiful glazed tiles, from
which (though this seems unlikely) it derived its
name. In the days when it stood the brunt of the
attack from the squadron of Ramon Bonifaz, it was
connected with the Alcazar by a wall, called, in
military language, a curtain. This was not demolished
until the year 1821. At the same time disappeared
the main entrance to the Alcazar.

The Almohades did much to embellish and to
improve the city during their century of sovereignty.
The only important Mohammedan work remaining to
us in Seville belongs to that period, and illustrates the
victory of the African or Berber over the Byzantine
influences traceable in earlier Moorish architecture.
The new conquerors of Andalusia were a virile, hardy
race, and there is something vigorous and coarse in
their handiwork. They developed an excessive fond-
ness for ornamentation which mars much of their
work, and were too much addicted to the use of
painted stucco and gilding. To them we owe the
stalactite roofing, afterwards developed with such
success at the Alhambra. " It is certain," says
Don Pedro de Madrazo, " that the innovations
characteristic of Mussulman architecture in Spain
during the eleventh and twelfth centuries cannot be
explained as a natural modification of the Arabic art of
the Khalifate, or as a prelude to the art of Granada,



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again as it was left by the Almohades. In their time
it was crowned by a pinnacle to which were attached
four balls of gilded copper — one of which was so
large, we are told, that the city gate had to be widened
that it might be brought hither. The iron bar sup-
porting the balls weighed about ten hundredweights,
and the whole was cast by a Sicilian Arab named
Abu Leyth at a cost of about fifty thousand pounds of
our money. The balls were thrown down by an
earthquake in 1395, when their proportions were
carefully ascertained.

It was not till 1568 that the upper stage of the
fabric, a graceful Renaissance superstructure, was
added by Fernando Ruiz. In the same year Morel's
great statue of Faith, cast in bronze, was placed on
the apex to symbolize the triumph of Christianity
over the creed of Islam. It is a clever piece of work-
manship, for though it weighs twenty-five hundred-
weights and measures fourteen feet in height, it sways
and turns with every wind. Hence the name applied
to the Tower — Giralda, from que gira, "which turns."

The first thing you will be asked to do by the
guides at Seville is to mount the Giralda, which you
do by means of thirty-five inclined planes, up which a
horse might be ridden with ease to the very top.
Each stage of the ascent is named : " El Cuerpo de
Campanas," after its fine peal of bells, one of which
weighs eighteen tons ; " El Cuerpo del Reloj," after
the clock first set up in 1400 — the earliest tower-clock


The Pearl of Andalusia

in Spain. Then there are the prettily-named floors of
the Lihes and the Stars. Some of the rooms are
inhabited by the bell-ringers, who may at times be
heard practising not only the chimes but the peculiar
guitar-playing of Andalusia.

The view from the summit of the tower I think, on
the whole, disappointing. The principal buildings of
the city are too closely grouped below the spectator to
give a very fine effect to the panorama, and the country
round is not beautiful. Looking across the arid
region beyond the river, it is hard to believe that in
Moorish times it was renowned for its beauty and
fertility and compared by Arabic writers to the
Garden of Eden. Looking down we scan the white
city, a labyrinth of lanes and alleys, only here and
there a plaza opening like a lake among the closely-set
roofs. Far away to the north the Sierra Morena
limits the prospect. How often, when from this
tower the muezzin proclaimed the Islamic profession
of faith, his eyes must have lingered apprehensively
on those mountains from whose crests the Christian
seemed to hurl back defiance and repudiation.

For the Giralda was the minaret of the great
mosque begun by Yusuf, the son of Abd-ur-Rahman,
in 1 171, and completed by his son and successor,
Yakub al MansLir. The earlier mosque on the same
site had been destroyed by the Normans, but some
portions of it seem to appear in the horseshoe arches
of the Puerta del Lagarto and the northern wall of the

33 s

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Patio de los Naranjos. This latter court, which shuts
in the Cathedral on the north side, contains the
fountain at which the devout Moslems performed
their ablutions. The picturesque Puerta del Perdon,
through which you pass on your way into the town, is
a Mudejar, not a Moorish, horseshoe arch, erected by
Alfonso XL to commemorate the victory at the Salado
in the year 1340. The doors with bronze plates,
despite their Arabic inscriptions, also date from that
time. The gate was restored in the sixteenth century
and adorned with sculptures. The terra-cotta statues
of St. Peter and St Paul on the outer side are the
work of Miguel Florentin, one of the earliest of the
apostles of Renaissance sculpture to settle in Spain.
The relief over the arch, representing the expulsion
of the money-changers from the Temple, is also by
him, and commemorates the substitution of the Lonja
or Bourse for this gate as a rendezvous for merchants.
The belfry storey is modern. At the little shrine just
inside, to the left on entering, may be seen a " Christ
bearing the Cross," by Luis de Vargas. The money-
changers and brokers have gone, but this gate remains
a favourite haunt of the gossips and loungers of
Seville, and in the cool of the evening is occupied by
some pleasant little family groups from the adjoining
houses. The southern side of the patio is occupied
by the Cathedral, the western by the church or chapel
of the Sagrario. The house on the north side inside
the old Moorish wall, to the right of the Giralda gate



The Pearl of Andalusia

(on entering), is occupied by the Biblioteca Colombina,
bequeathed by the son of Columbus. The pulpit
from which St. Vincent Ferrer, the " Angel of the
Judgment," thundered forth his terrific fulminations
against sinners, Jews, and heretics, I omitted to notice.

Everyone who reaches the Patio de los Naranjos for
the first time is sure to enter the Cathedral, which he
should not do until the Alcazar at least has been
visited. Not that the two great buildings of Seville
exhibit any transition of style from the one to the
other, but because, having begun the consideration of
Moorish architectural work, we ought naturally to
pass on immediately to the Mauresque work of the
first century of Castilian rule.

The group of buildings which for greater clearness
we will call, with the Spaniards themselves, the
Alcazares lie to the south of the Cathedral, and are
surrounded by an embattled wall built by the Arabs.
This enclosure, it should be understood, includes a
great many private houses and open spaces besides the
Alcazar proper. Immediately inside the wall are two
squares called the Patio de las Banderas and Patio de
la Monteria. At the far end of the former is the
office of the governor of the palace, and to the right of
this is an entrance whence a colonnaded passage called
the Apeadero leads straight through to the gardens,
or, by turning to the right, to the Patio del Leon.
On one side this latter square communicates with the
Patio de la Monteria ; on the other side is the Palace


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of the Alcazar itself, I hope this will make the
rather puzzling topography of the place a little more


Whether or not the Roman " Arx " stood on this
spot, as tradition avers, I cannot pretend to say. But
there is no room for doubt that a palace stood here in
the days of the Abbadite amirs, and that this building
was restored and remodelled by the Almohades. To
outward seeming the Alcazar is as Moorish a monument
as the Alhambra. In reality, few traces remain of the
palace raised by the Moslem rulers of either dynasty,
and the present building was mainly the work of the
Castilian kings — especially of Pedro the Cruel. But
though built under and for a Christian monarch, it is
practically certain that the architects were Moors and
good Moslems, and that their instructions and inten-
tions were to build a Moorish palace. Historically,
you may say, the Alcazar is a Christian work ; artistically,

The actual palace occupies only a small part of the
site of the older structures, and incorporates but a few
fragments of their fabrics. Since Pedro the Cruel's
day, so many sovereigns have restored, remodelled,
and added to the building, that it is far from being
homogeneous, though we can hardly agree with
Contreras that it is " far from being a monument of
Oriental art."

Pedro built more than one palace, or, more correctly,
two or three wings of the same palace, in this enclosure.


The Pearl of Andalusia

Traces of his Stucco Palace (Palacio del Yeso) remain.
Pedro looms very large in the history of Seville. He
plays as prominent a part here as Harun-al-Rashid in
the story of Bagdad. He was fond of the Moors, and
affected their costumes and customs. He also favoured
the Jews, and was alleged by his enemies to be the
changeling child of a Jewess. His treasurer and
trusted adviser was an Israelite named Simuel Ben
Levi. He served the king long and faithfully, till
one day it was whispered that half the wealth that
should fill the royal coffers had been diverted into his
own. Ben Levi was seized without warning and
placed on the rack, whereupon he expired, not of pain,
but of sheer indignation. Under his house — so the
story goes — was found a cavern in which were three
piles of gold and silver, twice as high as a man.
Pedro on beholding these was much affected. " Had
Simuel surrendered a third of the least of these piles,"
he exclaimed, " he should have gone free. Why would
he rather die than speak ? "

Stories innumerable are told of this king, a good
many, no doubt, being pure inventions. There is no
reason to question the account of his treatment of Abu
Said, the Moorish Sultan of Granada. This prince
had usurped the throne, and being solicitous of Pedro's
alliance, came to visit him at the Alcazar with a
magnificent retinue. The costliest presents were
offered to the Castilian king, whose heart, however,
was bent on possessing the superb ruby in the regalia


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of his guest. Before many hours had passed, the
Moors were seized in their apartments and stripped of
their raiment and valuables. Abu Sa'id, ridiculously
tricked out, was mounted on a donkey, and with
thirty-six of his courtiers, hurried to a field outside
the town, where they were bound to posts. A train
of horsemen appeared, Don Pedro at their head, and
transfixed the helpless men with darts, the king
shouting, as he hurled his missiles at his luckless
guest : " This for the treaty you made me conclude
with Aragon ! This for the castle you took from
me ! " The ruby which had been the cause of the
Moor's death was presented by his murderer to the
Black Prince, and now adorns the crown of England.

Nor did Pedro confine his fury to the sterner sex.
Dona Urraca Osorio, because her son was concerned in
Don Enrique's uprising, was burned at the stake on
the Alameda. Her faithful servant, Leonor Davalos,
seeing- that the flames had consumed her mistress's
clothing, threw herself into the pyre to cover her
nakedness, and was likewise burnt to ashes. Having
conceived a passion for Dona Maria Coronel, the king
caused her husband to be executed in the Torre del
Oro. The widow, far from yielding to his entreaties
and threats, took the veil and destroyed her beauty by
means of vitriol. Pedro at once transferred his atten-
tions to her sister. Dona Aldonza, and met with more
success. If a chronicler is to be believed, he threw his
brother Enrique's young daughter naked to the lions,


The Pearl of Andalusia

like some Christian virgin martyr. The generous (or
possibly overfed) brutes refused the proffered prey, and
the whimsical tyrant ever afterwards treated the maiden
kindly. In memory of her experience, she was known
as "Leonor de los Leones."

The misdeeds and eccentricities of this extraordinary
monarch have been chronicled by Ayala (who was a
partisan of Don Enrique), and given a wider circulation
by the pen of Prosper M6rim6e. I cannot very well
omit the oft-told tale that gives its name to the curious
little street, near the Casa de los Abades, called Calle
Cabeza de Don Pedro. There the king's head may be
seen in effigy high up on the wall at the corner of the
street. Pedro, prowling about the town after dark, had
a quarrel with a passer-by to whom, of course, he was
unknown, and whom he incontinently ran through the
body. Thinking there had been no witness to his
crime, he stalked back to his palace. Next day he
summoned the Alcalde of Seville to his presence and
asked for news of the town. The magistrate told him
that the body of a man had been found, murdered by
whom no one knew. The king would suffer no laxity
on the part of his officers. If the assassin were not
discovered the alcalde must pay the penalty of the
crime with his own life. Luckily for the magistrate,
an old dame had beheld the encounter of the previous
night, and now hastened to him with the surprising
news that the man he sought after was no other than
his majesty. She had recognized him beyond all


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possibility of doubt, not only by his features, but by
the peculiar clicking of the royal knees. The alcalde
hanged the king in effigy and invited him to the
spectacle. " It is well," said the prince, after an
ominous pause, " I am satisfied. Justice has been

I have told the tale rather hurriedly, as it is far from
being well authenticated, and because it will doubtless
be familiar in some form or another to most readers.
That Pedro had a sense of humour is shown by yet
another incident. A priest for murdering a shoemaker
was condemned by the ecclesiastical tribune to be
suspended from his sacerdotal functions for the space
of twelve months. On hearing this Pedro decreed
that any tradesman who murdered a priest should be
punished by being restrained from the exercise of his
trade for the like period.

But now let us return to the palace of which the
sinister king seems the presiding genius.

Crossing the Plaza del Triunfo, which lies between
the Cathedral and the old Moorish walls, we enter the
Patio de las Banderas, so called either because a flag
was hoisted here when the royal family was in residence,
or on account of the trophy, composed of the arms of
Spain with crossed flags, displayed over one of the
arches. Pedro was accustomed to administer justice,
tempered with ferocity, after the Oriental fashion, seated
on a stone bench in a corner of this square. The
surrounding private houses occupy the site of the old



The Pearl of Andalusia

Palace of the Almohades, and one of the halls — the
Sala de Justicia — is still visible. It is entered from
the Patio de la Monteria. Contreras assigns a date to
this room even earlier than the advent of the Almohades.
It is square, and measures nine metres across. The
stucco ceiling is adorned with stars and wreaths, and
bordered by a painted frieze. The decorations consist
chiefly of inscriptions in Cufic characters. The right-
angled apertures in the walls were closed either by
screens of translucent stucco or by tapestries, " which
must," says Gestoso y Perez, " have made the hall
appear a miracle of wealth and splendour." It was in
this hall, often overlooked by visitors, that Don Pedro
overheard four judges discussing the division of a bribe
they had received. The question was abruptly solved
by the division of the disputants' heads and bodies.
Thanks to its isolation, the Sala de Justicia escaped the
dreadful " restoration " effected in the middle of the
nineteenth century by the Due de Montpensier. The
house No. 3, Patio de las Banderas, formed part, in the
opinion of Gestoso y Perez, of the Palacio del Yeso, or
Stucco Palace, of Don Pedro.

Passing through the colonnaded Apeadero, built by
Philip III. in 1607, ^^^ once used as an armoury, we
reach the Patio del Leon, where tournaments used to
be held, and stand in front of the Palace of the
Alcazar. The fa9ade is gorgeous yet elegant, of a
gaudiness that in this brilliant city of golden sunshine
and white walls is not obtrusive. Yet, despite the

41 '


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Moorish character of the decoration, the Arabic
capitals and pilasters, and the square entrance " in the
Persian style," the front is not that of an eastern
palace ; and it is without surprise that we read over
the portal, in quaint Gothic characters, the legend :
" The most high, the most noble, the most powerful,
and the most victorious Don Pedro, commanded
these Palaces, these Alcazares, and these entrances
to be made in the year (of Caesar) 1402 " (1364).
Elsewhere on the fa9ade are the oft-repeated Cufic
inscriptions : " There is no conqueror but Allah,"
"Glory to our lord the Sultan" (Dqn Pedro),
" Eternal glory to Allah," etc., etc.

This is a very different entrance from that of the
Alhambra, the building on the model of which the
Alcazar was undoubtedly planned. From the entrance
a passage leads from your left to one extremity of the
Patio de las Doncellas, the central and principal court
of the palace. How this patio came to be so named
I have never been able to ascertain. There is an
absurd story to the effect that here were collected the
girls fabled to have been sent by way of annual tribute
by Mauregato to the khalifa. Had such a transaction
taken place, the tribute would have been payable, of
course, at Cordova, not at Seville. Moreover this
court was among the works executed in the fourteenth

The Alcazar strikes us (if we have come from
Granada) as being on a much smaller scale than the



The Pearl of Andalusia

Alhambra. It is very much better preserved, as it
should be, seeing that it is a century younger ; and if
it vaguely strikes one as being fitter for the abode of a
court favourite than of a monarch, it impresses one as
being fresher, more elegant — in a word, more artistic
— than the older building.

The Patio de las Doncellas is an oblong, and
surrounded by an arcade of pointed and dentated
arches which spring from the capitals of white marble
columns placed in pairs. The middle arch on each
side is higher than the others, and springs from oblong
imposts resting on the twin columns and flanked by
the miniature pillars characteristic of the Granadine
architecture. The spandrils are beautifully adorned
with stucco work of the trellis pattern. On the frieze
above runs a flowing scroll with Arabic inscriptions,
among them being " Glory to our lord, the Sultan
Don Pedro," and this very remarkable text : " There
is but one God ; He is eternal ; He was not begotten
and has never begotten, and He has no equal." This
inscription, opposed to the tenets of Christianity, was
evidently designed by a Moslem artificer, who relied
(and safely relied) on the ignorance of his employers.
The frieze is decorated also, at intervals, by the
escutcheons of Don Pedro and of Ferdinand and
Isabella, and by the well-known devices of Charles V.,
the Pillars of Hercules with the motto " Plus Oultre."
The inside of the arcade is ornamented with a high
dado of glazed tile mosaic (azulejo), brilliantly


Southern Spain

coloured and with the highly-prized metallic glint.
The combinations and variations of the designs are
very ingenious and interesting. This decoration
probably dates from Don Pedro's time. Behind each
central arch is a round-arched doorway, flanked by
twin windows. These are framed in rich conventional
ornamental work. Through little oblong windows
above the doors light falls and illumines the ceilings
of the apartments opening into the court. The ceiling
of the arcade dates from the reign of Ferdinand and
Isabella, but was restored in 1856. A deep cornice
marks the division of the lower part of the court from
the upper storey, the front of which, with its white
marble arches, columns and balustrades, was the work
of Don Luis de Vega, a sixteenth-century architect.

Three recesses in the wall to the left of the entrance
are pointed out as the audience closets of King Pedro ;
but they are much more likely to be walled-up
entrances to formerly existing corridors and chambers

The door facing this wall gives access to the Hall
of the Ambassadors (Salon de los Embajadores), the
finest apartment in this fairy palace. The doors are
magnificent examples of inlay work, and were,
according to the inscription on them, made by
Moorish carpenters from Toledo in the year 1364.
The hall is about thirty-three feet square, and exhibits
a splendid combination of the various styles with
the Gothic and Renaissance. The ornamentation is



t ^ J/-

The Pearl of Andalusia

rich and elaborate almost beyond the possibility of
description. The magnificent " half-orange " ceiling
of carved wood rests on a frieze decorated with the
Tower and Lion. Then come Cufic inscriptions on a
blue ground and ugly female heads of the sixteenth
century. Then, below another band of decoration,
is a row of fifty-six busts of the Kings of Spain, from
Receswinto the Goth to Philip III. These date, at
earliest, from the sixteenth century. The wrought-
iron balconies were made by Francisco Lopez in 1592.
The decoration of this splendid chamber is completed
by a high dado of blue, white, and green "azulejos."
It was in this hall that Abu Sa'i'd is said to have been
received by his treacherous host.

The Hall of the Ambassadors communicated
on each side with the patio and adjoining halls
by entrances composed of three horseshoe arches,
supported by graceful pillars and enclosed in a
circular arch.

Through the arch facing the entrance from the
patio we pass into a long narrow apartment, known as
the Comedor, where the late Comtesse de Paris was
born in 1848. To the north of the salon is a small
square chamber, called the " Cuarto del Techo de
Felipe Segundo," with a coffered ceiling dating from
the time of that king. North of this room is the
exquisite little Patio de las Muflecas (Court of the
Dolls), purely Granadine in treatment. The rounded
arches are separated by cylindrical pillars — I call them


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so for want of a better word — which rest on slender
columns of different colours, reminding one of the
early or Cordovan style. The capitals are rich, the
pillars they uphold decorated with vertical lines of
Cufic inscriptions, many of which, says Contreras, are
placed upside down. The walls and spandrils are
tastefully adorned with stucco work of the trellis
pattern, tiling and mosaic. This court, though still
harmonious and beautiful, suffered rather than
benefited by its restoration in 1843 > ^^^ ^^^
architecture has been not unsuccessfully reproduced
in the upper storey.

This charming spot is by no means suggestive of
deeds of blood and violence ; yet, just as they point
out the Salon de los Embajadores as the scene of the
arrest of the Red Sultan by Don Pedro, so here do the
guides place the scene of the murder of Don Fadrique
by the truculent monarch — a fratricide to be avenged
by another fratricide at Montiel. The Master of
Santiago, to give the Don his usual title, after a
successful campaign in Murcia, had been graciously
received by his brother the king, and presently went
to pay his respects in another part of the palace to the
royal favourite, Maria de Padilla. It is said that she
warned him of his impending fate ; perhaps by her
manner, if not by words, she tried to arouse in him a
sense of danger, but the soldier prince returned to the
king's presence. With a shout, Pedro gave the fatal
signal. " Kill the Master of Santiago," he cried.


The Pearl of Andalusia

Guards fell upon the prince. His sword was entangled
in his scarf, and he was butchered without mercy.
His retainers fled in all directions, pursued by Pedro's
guards. One took refuge in Maria de Padilla's own

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