Chicas, you will be proud of me – with ‘The Spaniard’ away in Madrid on some pretext or other, I determined to have a very cultural weekend in his absence. It started on Friday afternoon when my lovely friend Miguel kindly took me to visit Carmona.
Carmona is a small and ancient town about 30km outside of Seville and I highly recommend a visit there. It’s one of those places that is so full of history, beautiful buildings and local colour that you want to photograph absolutely everything you see (which I pretty much did!). Like Seville, you can see evidence of all of the stages of Carmona’s history, with its power battles and changes of rulers and culture, in the impressive buildings that remain. The main city gate, dating from the 9thcentury, has remnants of wave after wave of settlers: Eastern Mediterranean, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors and finally Christians.
The Alcazar (fortress palace) which majestically dominates the highest point in Carmona, was originally built by Muslim rulers in the 11th century, but later taken over and redeveloped by Christian King Pedro ‘The Cruel’ (he sounds an interesting type…). This magnificent building is now a very swishy Parador (state owned hotel), where it is almost impossible to get a booking as it’s permanently full.
However, they do let ordinary folk like you and me come in to have a drink on the terrace balcony, with fabulous views over the vega – which Miguel and I took full advantage of. Miguel had just had his family lunch (it was 6pm for Pedro’s sake!), but I was ready for a tapa too. He chuckled indulgently when I said I would have a beer, implying that it was a bit early – our Spanish friends really are on a different time schedule to us Brits!
The historical power changes are just as visible in the religious buildings. At the church of Santa Maria de la Asuncion, for example, a 15thcentury Gothic building full of the gold and silver treasures and ornamentation of a Catholic church, the orange tree patio of a mosque remains, where Muslims would perform their ablutions before praying.
Within this courtyard is the last remaining evidence of the Visigoth temple which existed before the mosque, in what I am reliably told, is one of their calendars. I know you’ll be imagining some colourful pictures of Visigothic children at play, with days of the month neatly set out underneath, but no, this was a white pillar with some messy carving on it.
OK, on Saturday I just lounged around in a lazy manner, but on Sunday the cultural theme continued when I went to the Book Fair (Feria del Libro) with my new friend and published poet, Lola Crespo (not to be confused with the British Lola implicated in my first blog post – in fact I’m going to change her pseudonym to Krissie, to avoid confusion…). Spanish Lola (her real name, she is a respectable person who needs no protection!) was doing a book signing at one of the stands.
Afterwards, she took me to a remarkable performance by a poet called Fernando Mansilla. Even though I couldn’t understand all of it, the rhythm and music of the words and his very deep gravelly voice, were amazing. He did some of the poems to the accompaniment of music.
The guy on the double bass (see below) was just back-up, but I thought he was fit and you deserved a treat after the history lesson…
Hasta pronto chicas! x