Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sevilla, Spain: City of Tile and Stone

Plaza de Espana

Hello, hello, hello!  Since the last post we have covered some serious distance.  We crossed the ocean to our second continent and have been cruising throughout Spain for over a week now!  We flew into Madrid and spent a few days there.  Despite mixed reviews from other people about Madrid we found it to be a fantastic city. Andrea and I realized that part of our enjoyment of this city was the extreme contrast after travelling within South America for a month and a half.  We really did enjoy ourselves but only 2 short days later we moved on to Toledo.  This was a much smaller city, very medieval.  Small streets, smaller alleys, and even smaller sidewalks.  It was easy to get lost, but that way we were able to explore that much more, even if by accident.  After three days and some excellent tips from our gracious hosts (another excellent AirBnB location) we made our way from Toledo back to Madrid and then took a six hour bus ride to the southern city of Sevilla (or Seville in English). 

Sevilla is another old city in Spain filled with incredible beauty.  The amount of old stone and brick buildings is overwhelming.  Every alley and every turn unveiled to us another beautiful building.  There is stone everywhere, stone building walls, old stone columns, cobblestone streets, stone bridges, and stone pillars incorporated into wrought iron fences.  It is simply beautiful.  Check out the following pictures of the different uses of stone throughout the city.

Stone Pillars at Plaza de Espana

La Catedral

Rear of Catedral
Notice the Arab Influence in the Shape of the Windows
Center Right

Stone Light and Fountain Outside of La Catedral

Celtic Influence at the Walls Surrounding the Alcazar (Palace)

After walking around for a little while longer I started to notice something else: color.  Little tiles incorporated into walls, columns, and benches.  I started to see more and more.  I had never seen tile used this much outdoors anywhere else!  Even the Arab and Spanish influence on this area was evident in the tiles.
There were simple colored tiles installed in sidewalks, street name tiles embedded in the side of buildings, elaborate colorful mosaics, and even pieces of alternating white and blue tile installed as coping on a 12” curb planter.  It was beautiful and unique.  In Buffalo the use of this much tile would most likely not work, as the fear of vandalism, or the impact of weather would undoubtedly cause designers and clients to shy away from using it.  The main thing that surprised me was the use of tile as coping.  Edges of walls, curbs and railings are typically ‘protected’ by metal ‘skate stoppers’ to prevent skaters from grinding on them. They would certainly not be accentuated by the use of colorful tile.  I do realize that this was installed a long time ago, but even still people realize that it is important and do not damage it in any manner.  It was really interesting.
On our second day we went over to the Plaza de Espana which was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 which was held in the adjacent Parque de Maria Luisa (you can read more here if you like: Plaza de Espana-Wikipedia).  I had never seen more ceramic tile in my entire life.  I had even thought about doing an entire post about this plaza.  It was incredibly ornate and the ornate building surrounded a large fountain and beyond the fountain was a gigantic park!  Sheer beauty.  The pictures that follow are taken throughout the city to show the wide range of places where the tile was used.

Stone and Tile Feature in the Alcazar Gardens

Tile Clad Ballisters on the Bridge Railing at Plaza de Espana

Castle Tile Detail at Plaza de Espana
Tile and Stone Bench at the Alcazar Gardens

The Tile Coping!

Sevilla was amazing, but as is the theme to this trip: On to the next!  Sevilla by morning and Barcelona by night.

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