Ferdinand Magellan and me (43)

Magellan in Seville

Tower of gold in Seville

Magellan’s starting point: the Tower of Gold
Seville is one huge museum with a history of various cultures over many centuries. Coming from a country with a single human culture dating back 60,000 years or so, what astounded me was the variety and vibrancy of the city; the evidence of tumultuous change. Ferdinand Magellan set out from here on a voyage that would alter the entire world and impose European culture on different races. It was a disaster for numerous indigenous peoples, including Australian aborigines. For Spain it provided a few centuries of power and prosperity.
It was said in medieval times, ‘Who has not seen Seville has not seen beauty,’ and it’s true. Marvellous architecture, beautiful gardens, exquisite art and music represent the highest development of European culture. The city’s nautical history is preserved in the Tower of Gold. Originally erected as part of Seville’s defence from invaders, which included chains across the river, it also served as a prison for King Pedro’s mistress when he grew tired of her. Columbus, Magellan and many adventurers set sail from here. Now the main traffic on the river is the tourist boats with running commentary. Nearby is the famous cathedral, once the biggest in Christendom, and the Archivo de Indias containing records of Spain’s colonial period.

The city has its dark history too. The Spanish Inquisition was active in Seville. The ancient Castillo de san Jorge in Triana, on the other side of the river, had dungeons and torture chambers for Jews, Muslims, gypsies and heretics of Lutheran and even Catholic faith. Under the grand Inquisitor Tomas Torquemada thousands were burnt at the stake. This was the culture that Spain exported to the rest of the world and here we are 500 years later when religious barbarity has again taken on the scope of genocide. Thank God I’m an atheist.


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Sailor from wayback with a Master's degree in Technology Management. Prefer classical music to rap and chicken curry to steak.

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