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Wonders Of The World:
St. Mark's Church
Tower Of London
Cathedral Of Antwerp
The Taj Mahal
Cathedral Of Notre Dame
Cathedral Of York
Mosque Of Omar
Cathedral Of Burgos
Saint Peter's Cathedral
Cathedral Of Strasburg
The Shway Dagohn
Cathedral Of Siena
Town Hall Of Louvain
Cathedral Of Seville
Cathedral of Cologne
Palce Of Versailles
Cathedral Of Lincoln
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The Cathedral of Seville is isolated in the centre of a large square, yet its grandeur may be measured by a single glance. I immediately thought of the famous phrase in the decree uttered by the Chapter of the primitive church on July 8, 1401, regarding the building of the new Cathedral: " Let us build a monument which shall cause posterity to think we must have been mad." These reverend canons did not fail in their intention. But to fully appreciate this we must enter. The exterior of the Cathedral is imposing and magnificent; but less so than the interior. There is no facade: a high wall encloses the building like a fortress. It is useless to turn and gaze upon it, for you will never succeed in impressing a single outline upon your mind, which, like the introduction to a book, will give you a clear idea of the work; you admire and you exclaim more than once: " It is immense! " but you are not satisfied; and you hasten to enter the church, hoping that you may receive there a more complete sentiment of admiration.
On entering you are stunned, you feel as if you are lost in an abyss; and for several moments you can only let your glance wander over these immense curves in this immense space to assure yourself that your eyes and your imagination are not deceiving you. Then you approach a column, measure it, and contemplate the others from a distance: they are as large as towers and yet they seem so slender that you tremble to think they support the edifice. With a rapid glance you look at them from pavement to ceiling and it seems as if you could almost count the moments that it takes the eye to rise with them. There are five naves, each one of which might constitute a church. In the central one another cathedral could easily lift its high head surmounted by a cupola and belltower. Altogether there are sixty-eight vaults, so bold that it seems to you they expand and rise very slowly while you are looking at them. Everything in this Cathedral is enormous. The principal altar, placed in the centre of the great nave, is so high that it almost touches the vaulted ceiling, and seems to be an altar constructed for giant priests to whose knees only would ordinary altars reach; the paschal candle seems like the mast of a ship; and the bronze candlestick which holds it, is a museum of sculpture and carving which would in itself repay a day's visit. The chapels are worthy of the church, for in them are lavished the chefs d'oeuvre of sixty-seven sculptors and thirty-eight painters. Montanes, Zurbaran, Murillo, Valdes, Merrera, Boldan, Roelas, and Campana have left there a thousand immortal traces of their hands. St. Ferdinand's Chapel, containing the sepulchres of this king and of his wife Beatrice, of Alphonso the Wise, the celebrated minister Florida Blanca, and other illustrious personages, is one of the richest and most beautiful. The body of King Ferdinand, who delivered Seville from the dominion of the Arabs, clothed in his military dress, with the crown and the royal mantle, reposes in a crystal casket covered with a veil. On one side is the sword which he carried on the day of his entrance into Seville; and on the other his staff, the symbol of command. In this same chapel a little ivory wand which the king carried to the wars, and other relics of great value are preserved. In the other chapels there are large marble altars, Gothic tombs and statues in stone, in wood and silver, enclosed in large caskets of silver with their bodies and hands covered with diamonds and rubies; and some marvellous pictures, which, unfortunately, the feeble light, falling from the high windows, does not illuminate sufficiently to let the admirer see their entire beauty.
But after a detailed examination of these chapels, paintings, and sculptures, you always return to admire the Cathedral's grand, and, if I may be allowed to say it, formidable aspect. After having glanced towards those giddy heights, the eye and mind are fatigued by the effort. And the abundant images correspond to the grandeur of the basilica; immense angels and monstrous heads of cherubim with wings as large as the sails of a ship and enormous floating mantles of blue. The impression that this Cathedral produces is entirely religious, but it is not sad; it creates a feeling which carries the mind into the infinite space and silence where Leopardi's thoughts were plunged; it creates a sentiment full of desire and boldness; it produces that shiver which is experienced at the brink of a precipice,-that distress and confusion of great thoughts, that divine terror of the infinite...
It is needless to speak of the Feasts of Holy Week: they are famous throughtout the world, and people from all parts of Europe still flock to them.
But the most curious privilege of the Cathedral of Seville is the dance de los seises, which is performed every evening at twilight for eight consecutive days after the Feast of Corpus Domini.
As I found myself in Seville at this time I went to see it. From what I had heard I expected a scandalous pasquinade, and I entered the church quite ready to be indignant at the profanation of a holy place. The church was dark; only the large altar was illuminated, and a crowd of women kneeled before it. Several priests were sitting to the right and left of the altar. At a signal given by one of the priests, sweet music from violins broke the profound silence of the church, and two rows of children moved forward in the steps of a contre-danse, and began to separate, interlace, break away, and again unite with a thousand graceful turnings; then everybody joined in a melodious and charming hymn which resounded in the vast Cathedral like a choir of angels' voices; and in the next moment they began to accompany their dance and song with castanets. No religious ceremony ever touched me like this. It is out of the question to describe the effect produced by these little voices under the immense vaults, these little creatures at the foot of this enormous altar, this modest and almost humble dance, this antique costume, this kneeling multitude, and the surrounding darkness. I went out of the church with as serene a soul as if I had been praying, ...
The famous Giralda of the Cathedral of Seville is an ancient Arabian tower, constructed, according to tradition, in the year one thousand, on the plan of the architect Huevar, the inventor of algebra; it was modified in its upper part after the expulsion of the Moors and converted into a Christian bell-tower, yet it has always preserved its Arabian air and has always been prouder of the vanished standard of the conquered race than the Cross which the victors have placed upon it. This monument produces a novel sensation: it makes you smile: it is as enormous and imposing as an Egyptian pyramid and at the same time as gay and graceful as a garden kiosk. It is a square brick tower of a beautiful rose-colour, bare up to a certain height, and then ornamented all the way up by little Moorish twin-windows displayed here and there at haphazard and provided with little balconies which produce
a very pretty effect. Upon the story, where formerly a roof of various colours rested, surmounted by an iron shaft which supported four enormous golden balls, the Christian bell-tower rises in three stories; the first containing the bells, the second enclosed by a balustrade, and the third forming a kind of cupola on which turns, like a weathervane, a statue of gilt bronze representing Faith, holding a palm in one hand and in the other a standard visible at a long distance from Seville, and which, when touched by the sun, glitters like an enormous ruby imbedded in the crown of a Titan king who rules the entire valley of Andalusia with his glance.