Sevilla

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After a lifetime of living in England, I’ve become a convert to winter breaks to somewhere sunny; even if it’s only for a long weekend, it’s nice to remember that the sky isn’t always grey, or full of little holes to let all that water in.  Mind you, on the day we arrived in Seville for a short break earlier in February, I think we saw as much rain as we get in an average month in London!  I apologise for bringing it with us.  And, thankfully, over the next couple of days the weather got warmer and brighter.

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The cathedral tower, originally the Minaret of the mosque previously in this place, dominates the old city

I found Sevilla to be quite a surprise.  In particular, it’s larger than I’d anticipated – one of those cities where you realise that even after spending a few days, you’d left rather a lot unseen and undone – I could certainly imagine going back sometime to fill a few of those gaps.  The old city is also very well preserved and it was an absolute delight to wander through the narrow cobbled streets of the old city.

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We were lucky to be here before the famous oranges had been harvested.  Hopefully I may reacquaint myself with some of them at breakfast sometime in the future!  We tried one to see whether they really were as sour as their reputation.  Bad move; the fact that they are all left on the trees through the city is a pretty big clue….

Sevilla is very photogenic, with its combination of attractive buildings, warm colours and lovely light.  Evidence of its history is everywhere, with a combination of Moorish and Catholic architecture, often in the same buildings that have been repurposed over the centuries.  The Alcazar Real is a perfect example:

And as mentioned above, even the cathedral was formed from a re-used and extended mosque.  Interesting, though, that given the city at one point housed a large Jewish population (dating from many centuries BC), and there is still an old Jewish quarter (Juderia, now known as Santa Cruz), evidence of their part in Sevilla’s history has almost entirely been eradicated following the inquisition in the 15th Century.  Synagogues became churches and the one remaining mikvah (ritual bath) is now used as a storage space in the basement of a bar.  Astonishing and sad how evidence of a population that was once one of the great centres of the Jewish world has been almost completely eradicated.  I wonder whether future generations will be saying something similar about other populations who are having to flee in horrible circumstances in the modern era?… It doesn’t feel as if we tend to learn terribly much from all the mistakes made in the past.

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Part of the old Juderia district – the church to the right was originally a synagogue.

An unforgettable evening was spent in a tiny theatre (28 person capacity) in an indoor market originally used for the Inquisition, watching a flamenco performance.  In such a contained and tiny space, the power of the performance was almost overwhelming – not necessarily a particularly easy or enjoyable experience (the raw emotion made for hard listening), but certainly memorable.

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As this is mostly a photography-themed blog, I suppose a word about equipment is in order…. all the photos on this trip were taken with a Fuji X100S, which was a perfect travel camera for a city trip.  The images were all JPEGs too, with minor post processing when I got home, but the files straight out of the camera already looked lovely.  The colours in particular are a delight.  On occasion I went up to ISO3200 (eg the image above, and one or two others) and still got usable shots in difficult circumstances.  It’s taken me some time with the X100 but I think I’m finally starting to connect with it.  A few more final images in the mosaic below (if you click on it you should be able to bring up larger photos) – if they encourage you to consider a trip to Sevilla, well, job done.

Cheers,

Jon

 

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Jon Schick

South East London-based, I work for the National Health Service but try and fit in some photography on a regular basis - often on dog walks with Harry my patient Lab-Retriever! Harry and his three cat companions provide some photographic material when the going gets really tough (it's the internet - gotta have a cat photo) but the almost-grown kids stay as far away from the lens as possible!

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