Studying Abroad in Spain...Tripping Over History

Seville, the capital of the region in southern Spain known as Andalusia, is one of Spain’s largest cities. The city is full of mosques and synagogues that have been converted to Catholic cathedrals and chapels— conversion that happened after Queen Isabel expelled all non-Christians from the country. The main cathedral, in the center of Seville, is the second-largest ancient church in the world. Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City will take its spot as the largest church upon its completion and will become the largest gothic cathedral in the world. Seville’s cathedral is not only enormous, it is so intricately decorated that it is actually hard to believe that it took only 103 years to construct. The cathedral is not only hard to put into words, but hard to capture with a camera. Honestly, the only way to truly understand the grandeur of this building is to see it in person. When I walked in I was absolutely stunned. A person does not have to be religious to appreciate a building like this; it is in every sense of the term a true work of art. Walking into Seville’s main cathedral is like walking into a museum. In comparison to my other travels, it struck me more intensely than walking into the Prado in Madrid. I was too busy taking in the magnificence of the cathedral to pay attention to what I was stepping on; so, of course, I managed to trip. When I looked down to see what exactly it was that I had stumbled over, I realized it was part of the markings for the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Nobody made a fuss about my tripping over the tomb of a celebrated historical figure, though, so it clearly wasn’t a big deal; it was as if it were commonplace to have important historical figures buried in highly trafficked city centers. Tripping over Columbus represents one of the most blatant differences between Europe and the United States, the thing that I will miss the most when I return home: the amount of history in Europe that is mixed within the modern cities. You can literally trip over it.