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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Sephardic Heritage Trip to Spain 2016/5776: Day 3

After last night's excitement under the bright stadium lights of the futbol game in Seville, we awoke bright and early, prepared to start our third day in this beautiful country. We departed from the Hilton and made our way to the Castillo de San Jorge in Seville, the first Inquisition headquarters in Spain. The ruins of the castle were first found some 30 years ago when the foundations for a market were dug out. On the site a museum was built, which seamlessly created a place to observe the ruins where thousands were killed. This place of reflection was established to ultimately show the dangers of power, especially when it goes unchecked. The original headquarters, built in 1478, was the site of where the Spanish monarchy tortured, charged and burned thousands of Jews. The Spanish monarchy tasked people with finding marranos or secret Jews, and carried out the Auto de fe, the legal process where people where tried and ultimately found guilty of their crimes.
After that somber tour, we strolled through the breathtaking city of Seville, repeatedly taken aback by the amazing architecture and structures that were constructed hundreds of years ago. Although that was all soon forgotten as we approached the massive Seville cathedral, the largest gothic structure in the world, and the overall third largest church ever built. The church was constructed on the site of a mosque that stood in there in the 12th century. As the Catholics retook the city and built their own worship site, they kept the main tower and eventually finished the construction after 75 years in 1506. The upper part of the tower resembled a mosque with its unique architecture so in 1568 it was altered.

We soon went from one architectural marvel to the next visiting the Alcazar the fortress, the palace of the King in Seville. It consists of several buildings, constructed from the 11th century to sometime in the late 19th century with each successive king trying to make it his own. The upper floor is still designated for the King when he visits the city. The most unique part of this ancient fortress is that while under construction in the 14th century, during the monarchy of Peter the First, a Catholic monarch, the palace was designed and built in Muslim style.
We then walked right outside the palace to the Jewish quarter, where we shopped and ate lunch. And if you think we had a jam packed, amazing day, it only got better as we visited a true wonder, the Plaza de Espania which was constructed for the Iberian-American fair in 1929. We relaxed there for two hours many of us taking boats out on the water under the historic arches.
I write this piece to you now from Gibraltar, a commonwealth of Great Britian, where we ate our first resturant meal followed by ice skating. It truly was one amazing day. I just hope the rest of the trip can live up to it. ~Albert Dweck