We began our day with a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts. The museum is located in a former convent. The building was built in 1594, and the museum was founded in 1839. In the 1830s, the government of Spain seized and shuttered many of the monasteries and convents scattered around the country. Many of the valuable paintings were saved and hidden by the monks until they could be redisplayed in the museum a few years later. The museum contains a healthy dose of Murillo and Zurbarán, along with several other Spanish artists.
From there, we walked to the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla (The Seville bullfighting ring, which hosts world-famous bullfighting). Unfortunately (or, fortunately), the full fighting season recently ended. The season runs from Easter Sunday through October. Although we couldn’t experience the bullfight, we, at least, were able to visit the museum and walk out into the arena where the fight takes place. It was very interesting, although I think it would be difficult to watch such a contest.
Just a few blocks from the bullring, sits the grand Seville Cathedral, the largest Gothic church in the world. When it was completed in the 1500s, it stripped the Hagia Sophia (in Istanbul) of its claim to fame as the largest church of any style of architecture in the world. At this time, it is the third largest. It’s other claim to fame is as the church in which the remains of Christopher Columbus reside. Columbus was 54 years old when he died in 1506 in Velladolid, Spain. He was initially buried there, but then his remains were moved to Seville. From there, they were taken to the Dominican Republic, as Columbus had requested. They were then moved to Cuba, and, finally, back to Seville when Cuba became independent from Spain. Columbus, a renowned world traveler, is said to have traveled as much dead as he did alive!
After a quick bite, we finished our sightseeing with a trip to the Hospital de la Caridad (Charity Hospital), which was founded in the 17th century by Don Miguel Mañara. It is still a working charity, so our entry fees went to helping the local poor. Mañara may very well have been the inspiration for the infamous playboy and enthusiastic sinner, Don Juan. (The legend of Don Juan originated from a play set in 17th-century Seville. So, at least, it makes sense.) The founder of the charity was all that and more until his radical change of heart, after which he dedicated his life to worshipping God and helping the poor. We did Don Miguel a favor by stepping on his tomb, which sits at the entrance of the church – right where he requested, so that all who entered would step on him. His tomb states, per his request, that he was “the worst man in the world.” The church in the hospital contained a magnificent Baroque altarpiece and beautiful artwork, including two large paintings by Murillo.
We’ve finally adapted to a Spanish schedule for eating our meals. Cindy and I are usually early dinner eaters (as in, 4-6 p.m.). Here, the restaurants are open from 1-4 p.m. for lunch. They then close for 4 1/2 hours and reopen at 8:30 pm for dinner. So, at 9 p.m. tonight we made our way down to an Italian restaurant on the Alameda for dinner. We enjoyed good food to end a good day in Seville.