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36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel gerrydawesspain.com

"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life. . .” - - Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019

7/07/2022

Sevilla: The Great Gothic-Mudéjar Churches Along My Original Route Into the City. Part Four San Marcos and Its Distinctive Giralda-like Mudejar Tower

 
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San Marcos.
 
 
When I entered Sevilla for the first time in 1968 via La Puerta de la Macarena, once the main northern entrance to city, I followed calle San Luis, which corresponds to northern section of the ancient cardo máximo, the main north-south street of Roman Hispalis, which would later be the main street of Islamic Ishbiliya. Along calle San Luis, after San Gil and Santa Marina, is the very important 14th century Gothic-Mudejar church of San Marcos.
 
 
 Tower of the church of San Marcos, originally the minaret of a Moorish mosque dating to the 13th Century. 
 
The striking feature of the Iglesia de San Marcos is the 70-foot Mudéjar tower, which is thought to be the minaret of an ancient mosque that stood on this site. It was likely built in the 13th Century during the Berber Almohade dynasty rule that made Sevilla their Iberian capital.  The church, using the minaret as its tower was built in the first half of the 14th Century under the reign of Pedro I de Castilla (Pedro el Cruel), who was known to love the Moorish lifestyle. The tower was directly inspired by the magnificent Almohade minaret La Giralda that is now the bell tower of the Cathedral of Sevilla. Like La Giralda the tower’s Islamic style window openings are spaced to give light to the interior staircase—in the case of La Giralda, ramps on which a horse could be ridden up to sound the call for evening prayer.  And also like La Giralda, the Almohade penchant for decorative and geometric sebka* designs to adorn these buildings can be seen on the San Marcos tower. The San Marcos tower, like many other buildings in Sevilla, was destroyed by the earthquake of 1396, but rebuilt in the same style.In 1916, underwritten by the Conde de Urbina, Sevillano architect Aníbal González supervised the restoration of this magnificent tower. 
 
 
 
Finished in the final years of the 13th Century, La Giralda was once the minaret of Sevilla's main mosque is perhaps the greatest symbol of the city.

(*The elaborate, but tasteful and aesthetically stunning stone and stucco work on Mudéjar and Islamic-inspired towers, buildings, palaces of mosques of this period; this style may have originated in the Great Mosque of Córdoba in the 10th Century. Sebka is believed to be inspired by patterns left on the surface of dried-up salt lakes in the desserts that were the original homelands of some of the Almohades.) 
 
Above the Gothic arches of the portal are the sebka designs so typical of Mudéjar decorations.
 

 Detail of the Mudéjar sebka adornments on the church of San Marcos.

The well preserved, or at least well restored, main portal was built in the 15th Century and has an ogival arch with nine archivolts, unadorned except for sawtooth notches on the 1st, 2cd and 9th arches.  The Mudéjar elements of this so-called Gothic-Mudéjar style are what make such portals so distinctive and striking, especially to western eyes.  Above the Gothic archway are more sebka designs beneath the tejaroz (eaves), which are supported by corbels, decorative supports for the eaves in the shape of lions’ heads.   If the three stone figures—God (center), Gabriel (left) and the Virgin Mary (right)—seem to be not be of the same epoch, it is because they were added in the 18th Century.

San Marcos is a perfect example of what a monument like this undergoes over the centuries.  First, it was an important mosque, which was replaced by a Christian church, retaining the minaret as a church tower in the 13th Century. Then it was destroyed by an earthquake at the end of the 14th Century.  The church was burned during internecine struggles between the Dukes of Arcos and Medinia Sedonia in the 15th century and rebuilt in 1478.  In the 20th Century, the interior of the church was sacked and burned my forces backing the Republic in 1936 at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War (the church was not re-opened for worship until 1987). 

What is miraculous is that the minaret, which originally was built nearly 800 years ago, still stands even it is has been rebuilt, modified and restored over several centuries.  Except for the Christian bell tower added in 1603, it looks much as it did when it was originally built.  Despite the ravages over the centuries visited upon this church by man and nature, the church as a whole appears as one of the finest example of the 14th Century Gothic-Mudéjar style.

 

Plaza San Marcos.

Sunset in a Glass: Adventures of a Food and Wine Road Warrior in Spain Volume I, Chapter I Sevilla: Arrival in Spain (in 1968) Soldiers on a Train (Excerpt protected by copyright)

Sevilla, Retracing Steps Part Two: Iglesia de San Gil A Remarkable Walk From El Arco de la Macarena to the Cathedral Featuring a Half Dozen Mudéjar-and-Gothic Churches Built on the Sites of Former Mosques in the 14th Century 

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(Available at Amazon, Despana (NYC), LaTienda.com, La Boca Restaurant (Santa Fe, NM) and at Kitchen Arts & Letters bookstore (NYC). 
 
Comments are welcome and encouraged.
 
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* * * * *
  Shall deeds of Caesar or Napoleon ring
More true than Don Quixote's vapouring?
Hath winged Pegasus more nobly trod
Than Rocinante stumbling up to God?
 
Poem by Archer M. Huntington inscribed under the Don Quixote on his horse Rocinante bas-relief sculpture by his wife, Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington,
in the courtyard of the Hispanic Society of America’s incredible museum at 613 W. 155th Street, New York City.
 ______________________________________________________________________________________
 Gastronomy Blogs

In 2019, again ranked in the Top 50 Gastronomy Blogs and Websites for Gastronomists & Gastronomes in 2019 by Feedspot. (Last Updated Oct 23, 2019) 

"The Best Gastronomy blogs selected from thousands of Food blogs, Culture blogs and Food Science blogs in our index using search and social metrics. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information."  

36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel


 
About Gerry Dawes

My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life." -- Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019


Gerry Dawes is the Producer and Program Host of Gerry Dawes & Friends, a weekly radio progam on Pawling Public Radio in Pawling, New York (streaming live and archived at www.pawlingpublicradio.org and at www.beatofthevalley.com.)

Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 


". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

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