“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Seville Oddities

In two of my previous blog posts I have shared some of the interesting sights and unusual history that the city of Seville has to offer. There is the derelict remains of a 1992 vision of the future, and the tale of the Mummy of the Golden Tower.

To finish my tour of Seville here are some more of the interesting and unusual sights that can be found in the city.

Seville Cathedral - 16th Century Graffiti

On the outside wall of the cathedral, examples of Latin graffiti can be found - which looks far more stylish than its modern counterparts. The graffiti is believed to date from the 16th century and one theory is that it was written by priests in waiting, who would write on the cathedral walls once they completed their studies to become a priest. Ultimately however, nobody is really sure who is responsible for the graffiti!

Seville Cathedral - The Tomb of Christopher Columbus

One of the main attractions of the cathedral is the spectacular tomb of the famous Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. On behalf of the Spanish Monarchy, Columbus completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean, landing in the New World (the Bahamas) by accident in 1492 - he had been trying to find Japan. Columbus' "discovery" of the New World and his attempts to establish a permanent colony started the Spanish push to claim the Americas for the Spanish Crown, a period of colonisation which continued for around three centuries.

As every one knows, Christopher Columbus was the first European explorer to discover the Americas, well except for the Icelandic explorer Leif Ericson (970 AD - 1020 AD) who probably landed in Canada in the 11th century.

One of Columbus' other dubious achievements was that he was an early entrepreneur who spearheaded the development of the transatlantic slave trade, a diabolical practice that continued well into the 19th century.

Seville Cathedral - The Wooden Crocodile

Also inside the Cathedral those that look up may see a wooden crocodile, an elephant's tusk and what appears to be a horse's bit hanging from the ceiling.

It is said that in 1260 in an attempt to win the hand in marriage of King Alfonso X's daughter that the Sultan of Egypt showered Alfonso with a number of exotic gifts. The gifts include a crocodile, an elephant and a tame giraffe. The Sultan failed in his attempts to marry Alfonso's daughter and Alfonso was left lumbered with some rather large pets.

Apparently the animals lived out their lives in the gardens of the Royal Palace (the Alcázar) and when the crocodile died it was stuffed and put on display. The crocodile did eventually rot and so it was replaced by a wooden replica, which can be seen today. The elephant's tusk hanging from the roof of the cathedral is all that remains of the elephant, and the horse's bit was supposedly used on the giraffe and is all that remains in tribute to the giraffe.

Seville Cathedral seen from a distance.

16th century graffiti on the outside of Seville Cathedral.

The tomb of Christopher Columbus.

The wooden crocodile.

The crocodile, the elephant tusk and the giraffe's bit. 

The Purgatory Tiles

On Calle de Doña María Coronel there is a Catholic Gothic church which dates from the 1300s. This is the Church of San Pedro, and on its outer wall there is a tiled scene depicting a number of naked people surrounded by flames. These people are apparently in purgatory, waiting for their opportunity to get into heaven. Even though the flames are licking high up their bodies, the artist depicted the people as not really suffering as a result of their experience - so perhaps purgatory is not really that bad?

A legend associated with these tiles is centered around a little bird, and like most legends, is a bit silly and without any clear provenance. The artist who created the tiles painted a small bird into the scene and apparently those who spot the bird will soon get married. The bird is fairly easy to spot, if you think "outside the box".

The church of San Pedro.

The purgatory tiles.

The Missing Pissers

The "Source of Sevilla" is the name of the fountain dedicated to the city of Seville, which is located in the plaza where the Jerez Door once stood (Puerta de Jerez).

The fountain was created in 1929 by the artist Manuel Delgado Brackembury and consists of a woman sitting atop a couple of fish like creatures, which are atop some large lotus leaves, which are supported by naked children, who are in turn riding on the back of turtles (a bit Disc World?). Around the perimeter of the fountain once stood four more free standing sculptures of children. These children once held shells which gushed water, leading to them being know as "pissers".

The fountain was removed from the plaza between 1974 to 1983 whilst the city's Metro was being installed and when it was replaced, the four pissers were not returned to the fountain. It seems that during the nine years that the fountain was in storage that the pissers had disappeared. To this day, nobody seems to know the fate of the missing pissers. Perhaps they were destroyed or perhaps they were pilfered and now adorn the garden of some wealthy person?

The "Source of Sevilla".

Pictures: Seville, Spain (November 2014).

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