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Nathaniel Armstrong Wells.

The picturesque antiquities of Spain; described in a series of letters, with illustrations, representing Moorish palaces, cathedrals, and other monuments of art, contained in the cities of Burgos, Valladolid, Toledo and Seville online

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Online LibraryNathaniel Armstrong WellsThe picturesque antiquities of Spain; described in a series of letters, with illustrations, representing Moorish palaces, cathedrals, and other monuments of art, contained in the cities of Burgos, Valladolid, Toledo and Seville → online text (page 1 of 23)
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THE



PICTURESQUE ANTIQUITIES



SPAIN;

DESCRIBED IN A SERIES OF LETTERS,
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS,

REPRESENTING MOORISH PALACES, CATHEDRALS,
AND OTHER MONUMENTS OF ART,

CONTAINED IN THE CITIES OF



BY

NATHANIEL ARMSTRONG WELLS.



LONDON:

RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET,
ltsfjer t'n rtfi'iiary to fler

M.DCCC.XLVI.



i



LONDON :

* printed by S. & J. BEWTLRY, WILSON, and FLF.Y,
Bangor House, Shoe Lane.






PREFACE.



THE author of the following letters is aware that
his publication would have possessed greater utility,
had the architectural descriptions been more mi-
nute. He ventures to hope, however, that this im-
perfection may be in some measure balanced by the

more extended sphere opened to whatever informa-
tion it may contain.

The absence of many technical expressions, espe-
cially those which enter into a detailed description
of almost all Gothic buildings, and the employment
of which was forbidden by the occasion, may tend
to facilitate the satisfaction of popular curiosity
respecting Spanish art : the more so from the cir-
cumstance that the most intelligent in such subjects
are scarcely sufficiently agreed on the application



iv PREFACE.

of technical terms, to allow of the compilation of a
standard vocabulary. His ambition will be more
than satisfied, should his past, and perhaps future
researches, succeed, in some degree, in pioneering
the path for a more scientific pen.

Should this work fall into the hands of any reader,
whose expectations of entertainment may have
been encouraged by the announcement of another
Spanish tour, but who may feel but moderate en-
thusiasm for the artistic and monumental glories
of the Peninsula, an explanation is due to him,
exonerative of the author from much of the respon-
sibility attached to the matter-of-fact tone of his
descriptions. It is no less his nature than it was
his wish to paint what he saw as he saw it. Un-
fortunately his visits to Spain took place after the
accomplishment of the revolution, the hardest blows
of which were aimed at her church. The confis-
cation of the ecclesiastical revenues has necessarily
stripped the processions and other ceremonies of
their former splendour, and by suppressing what con-



PREFACE. V

stituted one of their chief attractions to the native
population, transferred the interest of the lover of
the picturesque from the bright colours of animated
grouping, to the dead back-ground of stone and
marble they have left.

In studying, however, to preserve this strict accu-
racy in all that related to the principal subject of
his correspondence, his aim was to enliven it by
the introduction of any incidents worthy of notice
which came under his observation. In this object
he hopes he may have succeeded.

One more remark is necessary. The letters from
Seville, which form the second of the two parts
into which the volume is divided, although placed
last in order of succession, date in reality from
an earlier period than the rest ; and even from
a different tour, as will appear from the descrip-
tion of the route. They were addressed to vari-
ous individuals, whereas those forming the first
part were all written to the same person. They
are thus placed with a view to geographical order



vi PREFACE.

and clearness, and ./to a sort of unity, which ap-
peared advisable in ^tie subject of a volume. The
two excursions having been separated by an interval
of three years, should alterations have taken place
during that period in the places described, the above
circumstance not being borne in mind might lead to
an appearance of J chronological inaccuracy in the
descriptions, although there is not much probability
of the existence of such changes.-

LOXDON. December 1845.



CONTENTS.



LETTER I.

PACK

To MRS. C R . . . . ~ . .1

LETTER II.
ROUTE TO SPAIN THROUGH FRANCE .... 9

LETTER III.
THE BASQUE PROVINCES . . . . . .15

LETTER IV.
ARRIVAL AT BURGOS. CATHEDRAL. . . . 28

LETTER V.
TOMB OF THE CID. CITADEL. . . . 52

LETTER VI.
CARTUJA DE MIRAFLORES. CONVENT OF LAS HUELGAS. . 70

LETTER VII.

ROUTE TO MADRID. MUSEO. . .78

LETTER VIII.
PICTURESQUE POSITION OF TOLEDO. FLORINDA. . 103

LETTER IX.
CATHEDRAL OF TOLEDO . . - .121



viii CONTENTS.



LETTER X.

PAGE

CAFES. WEDDING CEREMONY. CATHEDRAL CONTINUED. ALCAZAR HOSPI-
TAL OF SANTA CRUZ. CONVENT OF LA CONCEPTION. MYSTERIOUS CA-
VERN. CONVENT OF SANTA FE, OR OF SANTIAGO. SONS-IN-LAW OF
THE CID. . . . . . . .143

LETTER XI.

STREETS OF TOLEDO. EL AMA DE CASA. MONASTERY OF SAN JUAN DE
LOS REYES. PALACE OF DON HURTADO DE MENDOZA. . 172

LETTER XII.
ARAB MONUMENTS. PICTURES. THE PRINCESS GALIANA. ENVIRONS. 195

LETTER XIII.

CASTLES OF ALMONACID, GUADAMUR, MONTALBAN, AND ESCALONA. TOR-
RIJOS. . . . . . . . 214

LETTER XIV.

VALLADOLID. SAN PABLO. COLLEGE OF SAN GREGORIO. ROUTE BY
SARAGOZA. . . 240



CONTENTS. IX



PART TT. -SEVILLE.

LETTER XV.

JOURNEY TO SEVILLE. CHARACTER OP THE SPANIARDS. VALLEY OF
THE RHONE. ..... 259

LETTER XVI.
VOYAGE TO GIBRALTAR

LETTER XVII.

CADIZ. ARRIVAL AT SEVILLE. . 308

LETTER XVIII.
THE ARABS IN SPAIN. ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE. 315

LETTER XIX.
CATHEDRAL OF SEVILLE . . . . . 350

LETTER XX.

SPANISH BEGGARS. HAIRDRESSING. THE GIRALDA. CASA DE PILATOS.
MONASTERIES. ITALICA. .... 369

LETTER XXL
PRIVATE HOUSES, AND LOCAL CUSTOMS IN SEVILLE . 399

LETTER XXII.

INQUISITION. COLLEGE OF SAN TELMO. CIGAR MANUFACTORY. BULL
CIRCUS. EXCHANGE. AYUNTAMIENTO. . . 416



ENGRAVED PLATES.

PA<JK

CHAPEL OF SAN ISIDRO, MADRID . To face Title.

TRANSEPT OF CATHEDRAL, BURGOS

INTERIOR OF THE CHURCH OF MIRAFLOKES .

VIEW OF TOLEDO

INTERIOR OF CATHEDRAL, TOLEDO .

FAADE OF SAN GREGORIO, VALLADOLID

FA9ADE OF THE ALCAZAR, SEVILLE

GREAT COURT OF DO. 328

HALL OF AMBASSADORS, DO.

INTERIOR OF THE CATHEDRAL, SEVILLE . 353



WOOD ENGRAVINGS.

ARCO DE SANTA MARIA. BURGOS. ... 30

INTERIOR OF THE CHOIR, CATHEDRAL OF BURGOS

SCULPTURE IN THE APSE, DO. DO.

HEAD OF ST. FRANCIS ... .48

FOUNTAIN OF SANTA MARIA, BURGOS .... 69

ITALIAN GALLERY AT THE MUSEO, MADRID . . . .94

FLORINDA'S BATH, TOLEDO .... 112

APSE OF THE CATHEDRAL, TOLEDO ..... 129

COSTUME OF A MILITARY NUN, SANTA FE, TOLEDO . 165

CHURCH OF SAN JUAN DE LOS REYES, DO. . . .179

CLOISTER OF SAN JUAN DE LOS REYES, DO. . . .182

INTERIOR OF SANTA MARIA LA BLANCA, DO. . . .196

INTERIOR OF CHRISTO DE LA Luz, DO. . . .201

CASTLE OF GUADAMUR. ENVIRONS OF DO. . . . 226

FAgADE OF SAN PABLO. VALLADOLID .... 242

COURT OF SAN GREGORIO. VALLADOLID .... 249

COURT OF DOLLS, ALCAZAR, SEVILLE . . . .331

FOUNTAINS AT THE ALCAZAR ...... 339

PORTAL OF SAN TELMO, SEVILLE . . . . .422



PICTURESQUE ANTIQUITIES



OF



SPAIN.



LETTER I.

TO MRS. C R.

Rue de Richelieu.

You perceived at a glance the satisfaction you
caused me, when, on receiving my temporary adieus,
you requested me to send you some account of my
travels in Spain. Had it not been so, you had not
been in possession, on that day, of your usual pene-
tration. Indeed, you no doubt foresaw it ; aware
that, next to the pleasure of acquiring ocular infor-
mation respecting the peculiar objects which interest
an individual, there is no greater one than that of
communicating to a spirit, animated by congenial
tastes, the results of his explorations. You must have
foreseen, that, with my recollections of the pleasure
I had derived from our excursions in one of the
most interesting regions of France, during which I
was witness to the intelligence and rapidity of percep-

B



2 ROUTE TO SPAIN THROUGH FRANCE.

tion you displayed in the appreciation of the monu-
ments of the Middle Ages, the opportunity of commit-
ting to paper the impressions I should receive in a
country so rich in those treasures, with a view to
your information, would give an additional interest
to my tour, as well as encouragement in surmount-
ing the obstacles to be met with among a people
not yet broken in to the curiosity of tourists.

You professed also, with a modesty always becom-
ing to talent and worth, a complete ignorance re-
specting Spain : adding, that you would be grateful
for every sort of information ; and that you were
anxious to be enlightened on the subject not only
of the monuments and fine arts, but also of the
history of that country, of which you had never had an
opportunity of informing yourself; summing up by
the enumeration of the three names of the Cid,
Charles the Fifth, and Roderic the Goth, the entire
amount of your acquaintance with the leading
characters of Spanish history.

Indeed, the ignorance you profess with some
exaggeration, is more or less general in our coun-
try; nor is it surprising that such should be the
case. Spain has been in modern times in the back-
ground of European progress. The thousand in-
conveniences of its routes and inns have deterred
the most enterprising from making it a place of



ROUTE TO SPAIN THROUGH FRANCE. 3

resort ; and while a hundred less interesting scenes
of travel, such as Baden-Baden, Bohemia, sporting
adventures in Norway, or winterings in St. Peters-
burg, have claimed your attention during the re-
poses of quadrilles, and substantiated the con-
versation of several of your morning visitors, Spain
has been unnoticed and unknown laid on the
shelf with the Arabian Nights considered a sort of
fabulous country, which it would be charming to
know, but with which there would never be a
chance of forming an acquaintance ; and you have
contented yourself with a sort of general infor-
mation respecting it, derived from a few romances and
poems. You are intimate with Boabdil and the
wars of Granada, but to those events is limited
your knowledge of its ancient history ; and the
reigns of Charles the Fifth and Philip the Second,
with the addition of some confused visions, in which
autos-da-fe and dungeons contrast in a rather
gloomy back-ground with laughing majas, whirling
their castagnettes to the soft cadences of guitars,
fill up the remaining space allotted to Spain in your
recollections.

It would be a task full of interest for me pos-
sessed, as I shall probably be, of ample opportunities
for its accomplishment to draw up for your in-
formation a summary of the leading events of

B 2



4 ROUTE TO SPAIN THROUGH FRANCE.

Spanish history ; connecting them by the chain of
reigns of the successive sovereigns ; and thus to press
into a limited compass a sort of abstract of the
annals of this extraordinary nation : but I am
deterred by the certainty that such an attempt, by
me, would fail of its intended object. The events,
thus slurred over, would have the effect of whetting
the appetite for knowledge, which they would not
satisfy ; and the interminable lists of monarchs, of
successions, usurpations, alliances and intermarriages,
rendered doubly intricate by the continual recurrence
of the same names, without sufficient details to
particularise each a chaos of outlines without the
necessary shading to bring out the figures from the
canvass would not only set at defiance the clearest
memory, but would be a trial which I would not
for worlds impose upon your patience. No history
is more attractive than that of Spain ; and those
works which exist upon the subject, although all,
more or less, sullied with inaccuracies, and most of
them infected with prejudice, and immersed in super-
stitious delusion, are still well worth your perusal ;
but it would lead me out of my depth, were I to
undertake in my correspondence more than an oc-
casional historical quotation, when required by the
interest attached to any monument which it may
fall to my lot to describe.



ROUTE TO SPAIN THROUGH FRANCE. 5

Were I not to transmit to you a conscientious and
faithful account of all that I shall see, I should be
guilty of cruelty ; and that the more base, from the
certain impunity that must attend it. I say this,
from the impossibility of your ever undertaking the
same journey, and consequently of your ever being
able to compare my portraits with their originals.
In fact, the incompatibility of your nature, and that
of the Spanish climate, must ever be present to me,
who, during the vivifying heats of the late very bear-
able canicule, in your French chateau so constructed
as to perform the functions of an atmospheric sieve,
by separating the wind, which rushed through its
doors and windows, judiciously placed in parallels for
the purpose, from the warmer sunshine without
was witness, nevertheless, to your unaffected distress,
when you protested against any lofty, oak-panelled
room being sat or reclined in by more than one
humanlbeing at a time, lest it should be over-heated ;
placing thus an obstacle in the way of conversation,
in which to shine is your especial province, by ren-
dering it necessary to converse through various open
doors ; while, were an additional testimony necessary
to prove the sincerity of your sufferings, your favour-
ite of favourites, Caliph, repulsed and uncaressed,
hung his silken ears, as he solemnly retreated to coil



6 ROUTE TO SPAIN THROUGH FRANCE.

himself on a distant rug, and voted the dog-days a
misnomer.

Nor were you contented with your atmosphere,
until, the season of insects and al-fresco suppers being
long left behind, and the autumnal equinox having
peremptorily closed the doors and windows, fitted,
alas ! by a carpenter who flourished in the reign of
Louis the Fourteenth, so plentiful a supply of air
was afforded by the handy-works of the said car-
penter, that the Chinese screen had some difficulty
in maintaining its post, and the flames of the well-
furnished elm-fire ascended with a roar that
would have shamed many a cataract of the rival
element. Not but that I would willingly forego
the opportunity of sending you erroneous in-
formation, in exchange for your presence in that
country ; and for your assistance in comprehending
the nature of a people apparently composed of such
contradictory ingredients. You might probably suc-
ceed in fathoming the hidden springs of character,
which give birth to a crowd of anomalies difficult to
explain. You would discover by what mystery of
organization a people, subject to the influence of
violent passions, combine an abject subjection to the
forms of etiquette, carried to its extreme in every-day
life, with occasional outbreaks of adventure and ro-
mance worthy of the days of Orlando and Rodo-



ROUTE TO SPAIN THROUGH FRANCE. 7

monte ; and account for a nation exchanging a cos-
tume which combines utility with grace, for one in-
ferior in both respects. Inventors of whatever is
most fascinating in dances and music you would
discover the motive which induces them to abandon
both, but principally the first, which they replace
by the French rigodon, or dancing-made-easy, and
adapted to youth, manhood, and all stages of para-
lysis ; and, possessing the cathedrals of Leon, Burgos,
and Seville, to denounce Gothic architecture as bar-
barous, and to brand it with the contemptuous deno-
mination of "crested masonry."

Should my mono- ( monument-) mania run riot,
and over-describe, over-taxing even your passion for
that branch of art, be assured and to this promise
you may always look back for consolation and en-
couragement that I will not write you a history of
the recent, or any previous Spanish revolution,
apropos of the first sentry-box I meet with, even
though its form be that of a Lilliputian brick castle.
Nor shall my first glimpse of a matador occasion you
a list of bull-fights, voluminous enough to line the
circumference of the barrera. No Diligence shall be
waylaid, nor in my presence shall any ladies' fingers
be amputated, the quicker to secure her rings, if I
can possibly avoid it ; and, as far as depends on me,
I shall arrive in a whole skin at each journey's end.



8 ROUTE TO SPAIN THROUGH FRANCE.

and without poisoning you or myself with garlick,
unless the new Cortes pass a law for denying to the
stranger all other sorts of aliment.

I have resolved, by a process of reasoning which I
need not at present impart to you, and in virtue of
a permission which I have little doubt of your grant-
ing, to publish my part of our correspondence. I
think that neither of us will be a loser by this plan,
however conceited I may appear to you for saying so.
Yourself, in the first place, must be a gainer by the
perusal of descriptions, on which, from their being
prepared for the ordeal of a less indulgent eye,
greater care will necessarily be expended : the pub-
lic may benefit in obtaining information, which shall
be at all events accurate, relative to subjects as yet
inadequately appreciated by those they are the most
likely to interest : while the chief gainer, in the event
of these two ends being attained, will of course be
your devoted and humble correspondent.



LETTER II.

ROUTE TO SPAIN THROUGH FRANCE.

Bayonne.

THE position of Burgos on the principal line of
communication by which Madrid is approached from
the north of Europe ; the fact of its being the first
city met with, after crossing the Pyrenees, in which
monuments are found remaining of the former genius
and grandeur of the country ; and the name of which
calls up the more stirring and eventful epochs of
Spanish history, render it, notwithstanding its actual
distance from the frontier, a sort of introduction or
gateway to Spain the Spain of the tourist.

The most agreeable and least troublesome way of
visiting the best parts of Spain excludes, it is true,
this route ; for the provinces of the Peninsula which
combine the greater number of requisites for the en-
joyment of life with the most attractive specimens of
the picturesque, whether natural or artificial, are
those nearest to the coast, and they are approached
more conveniently by sea. Those, however, who can



10 ROUTE TO SPAIN THROUGH FRANCE.

devote sufficient time, will be repaid, by a tour in the
interior of the country, for the increase of trouble it
may occasion them ; and this tour should precede
the visit to the maritime provinces, as it will render
their superior comforts and climate the more accept-
able from the contrast. The scenery of the Pyrenees,
and the passing acquaintance formed with the
original and picturesque population of the Basque
provinces, secure the traveller against any danger of
ennui throughout the land-journey between the fron-
tier and the city of Burgos.

There does not exist the same security throughout
the extent of route which it is necessary to travel in
order to reach this frontier. The approach to Spain
across the south-western provinces of France offers
few objects worthy of detaining us on our way to the
Peninsula. It is one of the least interesting of
French routes. From Paris you pass through Orleans
and Tours. At Chatellerault between the latter
city and Poitiers the inn-door is besieged by women
offering knives for sale. It is everywhere known
that cutlery is not one of the departments of French
manufactures which have attained the greatest de-
gree of superiority. A glance at the specimens of-
fered for our choice while changing horses at Cha-
tellerault, showed them to be very bad, even for
France.



ROUTE TO SPAIN THROUGH FRANCE. 11

This did not, however, prevent a multitude of
travellers from purchasing each his knife, nor one of
them from laying in a plentiful stock, stating that
he destined a knife for each member of his family
evidently one of the most numerous in France. I
inquired of a native the explanation of this scene,
and whether these knives were considered superior
to those met with in other towns. " Oh no," was the
reply ; " but it is usual to buy knives here." I ven-
tured to say I thought them very bad. " That is of
no consequence ; because, whenever you have passed
through Chatellerault, every one asks you for a knife
made on the spot." These victims of custom had
paid enormous prices for their acquisitions.

Poitiers is a crazy old town, but contains one of
the most admirable specimens of the architecture im-
mediately preceding the pointed, or ogivale, and
which the French savans call "the Romane." I allude
to the church called " the Notre Dame de Poitiers."
The west front is highly ornamented, and unites all
the peculiar richness with the quaintness and sim-
plicity of design which characterize that fine old
style. I must not omit the forest of Chatellerault,
passed through on leaving that town. It is famous
as the scene of the picnic given to the ladies of the
neighbouring city by the officers of a Polish regiment
quartered there, immediately before the breaking out



12 ROUTE TO SPAIN THROUGH FRANCE.

of the Peninsular war. It is related that Polish
gallantry overstepped etiquette to such a degree,
and that by premeditation, as to urge these cavaliers,
by force of bayonet, and sentries, to separate all the
husbands, and other male relatives, from the fairer por-
tion of the guests. The consequences of such a termi-
nation of the festivities may easily be imagined; Bona-
parte, a rigid judge with regard to all divorces except
his own, on receiving the complaint of the insulted
town, condemned the officers en masse to be decimated,
and the survivors degraded from their rank. He
relented, however, afterwards, on an understanding
that they were to regain their sullied laurels in the
Peninsula ; where, in fact, in consequence of his
orders, such opportunities were afforded them, that
scarcely a man in the regiment survived the earliest
campaigns.

The inhabitants of Chatellerault are said to take
great offence on being asked their age, suspecting the
inquirer of a malicious calculation.

The new quarter of Bordeaux is handsome, spacious,
and airy. In the promenade called " La Quinconce,"
on the bank of the river, a large insulated edifice,
the most monumental in view, is discovered by the
inscription on its front to be an establishment for
warm baths. At one extremity of the principal
facade is seen, in sculptured letters, "Bains des



ROUTE TO SPAIN THROUGH FRANCE. 13

dames ;" at the other, " Bains des hommes." At this
latter entrance a handsome staircase leads to the
corridor of general communication, on the unsullied
white wall of which the code of discipline of the
establishment, traced in large sable characters, forces
itself on the notice of the visitor. It consists of the
following single and rather singular statute : " II est
expressement defendu aux garcons de permettre a
deux hommes de se servir de la meme baignoire."
After some reflection I concluded it to be a measure
of precaution with regard to cleanliness, carried, no
doubt, to an extreme at Bordeaux. This town is
well deserving of a few days' halt, should the tra-
veller's object be amusement, or the pleasures of the
table, for which it enjoys a well-merited reputation.
It is a large and handsome city, the second in France
in beauty, and vies with the capital in the elegance
of its shops and principal streets. The theatre is,
externally, the finest in France ; and there is, besides
the cathedral, and surpassing it in interest and an-
tiquity, a remarkable Gothic church.

Of the sixty leagues which separate this town from
Bayonne, forty afford the most perfect example of
monotony. One sighs for the Steppes of Russia.
These are the well-known Landes, consisting of un-
cultivated sands and morass ; now covered league
after league with the unvarying gloom of the pine



14 ROUTE TO SPAIN THROUGH FRANCE.

and cork forests, now dreary and bare, but ever
presenting to the wearied eye a wide interminable
waste, replete with melancholy and desolation. It is
true, that a day of pouring rain was not calculated to
set off to advantage the qualities of such a region,
and should in strict justice be admitted in evidence
before passing condemnation on the Landes.



15



LETTER III.

THE BASQUE PROVINCES.

Burgos.

IT never causes me surprise when I see the efforts
made by persons of limited means to obtain the situ-
ation of Consul in a continental town.

In spite of one's being, as it were, tied to one's
residence, and that not one's home, there are ad-
vantages which counterbalance the evil. The place
carries with it a certain degree of consequence. One
feels oneself suddenly a man of influence, and a
respectable public character. I have heard one, cer-
tainly far from being high on the list of these func-
tionaries, termed by a humbler inhabitant of his
" residence," the " Premier Consul."

The income, too, is, it is true, limited ; but then


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Online LibraryNathaniel Armstrong WellsThe picturesque antiquities of Spain; described in a series of letters, with illustrations, representing Moorish palaces, cathedrals, and other monuments of art, contained in the cities of Burgos, Valladolid, Toledo and Seville → online text (page 1 of 23)