Arcos de la Frontera
We are excited to be home but grateful for two weeks in France and Spain which included a couple of days in this extraordinary town of Arcos de la Frontera. Arcos, considered by many to be the most beautiful of the “White Hill” towns, is about sixty miles south of Seville and less than an hour from the Mediterranean. The Rock of Gibraltar is visible to the south and west. This image is deceiving as the town of Arcos spills down the side of the mountain from an altitude about 1,200 feet above the Guadelete river. In the lower left foreground is a small bridge built in the late 1800’s by Gustav Eiffel, the architect of the Eiffel Tower.
Arcos is fascinating historically as it was built by the Moors and later expanded by Christians. After centuries of battle, the Moors were pushed back into Africa in the late 15th century. The older section sits on top of the mountain (a mile from the homes in the foreground) with the Castile of Arcos and the churches of Santa Maria and San Pedro just visible (above left) in the distance.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll post several images we hope you’ll find interesting.
“Santa Maria de la Sede”
Europe’s third largest church and the largest Gothic church in the world, Seville’s cathedral is a “must see”. It was built by the Catholics over the course of the 16th century using architectural remnants from a century long war with the Moors. The Cathedral is adjacent to The Alcazar and adjacent to the famous Giralda Bell Tower.
At the risk of mixing word origins, metaphors and history, “Arcos de la Frontera ” (see previous post) could easily be described/experienced as a “byzantine labyrinth”. The “old city”, sitting atop the hill in the previous post, is a complex maze of angles and shadows formed by endless white stucco walls, each rectangular but positioned at various angles to one another. Sun is reflected in so many different directions by the faces of the buildings, it is almost impossible to gauge time of day or direction.
One has to consider whether “Cubism” might have been influenced on some level by the the geometry of this architecture. The principal founders of the movement, Picasso and George Braque both spent time in southern Spain surrounded by the angular shapes and two dimensional surfaces of the buildings. This architectural geometry, perhaps in a less conscious way, appears to be reflected (at least potentially) in their early works; Picasso growing up in Malaga (Andulucia) and George Braque having spent time in Barcelona shortly before both pioneered a radically new style and movement. A short search of the history of Cubism is rich with papers on its impact on 20th century architecture but appears not to have explored the inverse; that is, the possible causative link between architecture as the antecedent. Would love to have thoughts or comments from others far better versed on the subject.