Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Originally built in the 17th century as a seminary school for the orphan children of sailors (on property belonging to the institution responsible for the Spanish Inquisition), The Palacio de San Telmo is now Andalucía's presidential palace. Over the years, it was a number of things, including the private residence of the Dukes of Montpensier beginning in 1849. It's an impressive example of Sevilla's Baroque architecture and I find it fascinating — although, interestingly, I never found Baroque architecture fascinating when I was forced to study it for my art degree. If I'd only known.

GRAND AND MINI PALACIOS DE SAN TELMO, WITH THE THREE WISE MEN OUT FRONT.

But this is not the story of the Palacio de San Telmo, this is the story of the Second Palacio de San Telmo. As I've mentioned in recent weeks, there are Nativity Scenes (Belénes) all over town right now. Of course, the convent/church around the corner, Santa Rosalía, has a very popular Belén. It's visited by school groups, tourists, and locals every day.

APPARENTLY, THIS IS REALLY WHERE IT ALL BEGAN.
IF YOU LOOK CLOSELY, YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO SPOT THE ARCHANGEL GABRIEL.

I went around the corner after breakfast today to check out Santa Rosalía's Belén and I was delighted to find that it includes a reproduction of the Palacio de San Telmo and another building known as the Costurero de la Reina (The Queen's Sewing Box), which was built in 1893 as the guard house/garden retreat for the Palacio de San Telmo.

THE QUEEN'S SEWING BOX (BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE A SEWING BOX, I'M TOLD). 

As with so many of the other Belénes I've seen around town, I was struck with awe when I saw the level of detail, the workmanship, and the loving attention. Even better I arrived just as a group of noisy tourists was leaving and I left just as a group of noisy teens arrived. Someone was watching over me. (I think it was the volunteer who was guarding the place.)

20 comments:

  1. What detail! I had to compare the two pictures (real and miniature) several times just to get the full effect of the model. Thanks for sharing it! On your previous post, San Geraldo looks great! Best wishes to you both.

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    1. Jo:
      I was pleased that I happened to have already taken similar shots of the real thing for comparison. As for San Geraldo, he will be grateful! Hugs!

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  2. Amazing! the details and the accuracy...but...I had no idea that the Wise men visited Seville on their way to Bethlehem...well, maybe they were taking the scenic Iberic route.
    saludos,
    raulito

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    1. Raulito:
      I didn't show it, but the manger was set up to the left and in front of the palacio. It all happened right here! I think over the years the story simply got changed to Bethlehem.

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  3. We don't see the detail and craftsmanship very often any more in North America. I am amazed at these Belenes, especially this one! I can feel your excitement Mitch.

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    1. Jim:
      It reminds me of a model train exhibit we saw in San Diego in the '90s. But more unusual and exceptional.

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  4. These are simply amazing, Mitchell. Thank you for posting the pictures.....

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    1. Kristi:
      I'm happy to and so grateful you like it. The people and animals in this scene were also wonderful, but for me it was all about the reproduced buildings. Very Sevillano!

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  5. Nice to see those nativities scenes.

    Does the religious shop on Calle Jesus de Gran Poder [you know the one with the costly naked Jesus's in the window] also have a nativity on show?

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    1. Peter:
      That shop doesn't have an entire scene. They've got the traditional holy family in the window... and then all the other pieces for sale. But, many stores do have wonderful scenes in their windows. El Corté Ingles has a very large one every year. Even Sevilla Musical has one this year.

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  6. how fabulous ~ no austere Protestant architecture here.

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  7. I wanna live in the Queen's Sewing Box!

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    1. Bob:
      I do, too. You can apparently tour inside. I'll have to check it out and take some pictures, so you can start to plan the furniture arrangement. It's right at the entrance to Maria Luisa Park, which was originally part of the gardens of the palacio. Not a bad back yard.

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  8. I must agree with everyone else Mr B, these are amazing...

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    1. Monkey:
      I'm hoping to come upon other unusual ones!

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  9. The Queens's Sewing Box just fascinates me. It looks like some giant confectionery that isn't quite real. Kind of as an aside... I didn't know that Belen meant the creches etc. We lived close to Belen, NM and were told that that was Spanish for Bethlehem. But then... maybe the meaning can encompass both. Does kinda make me wish I'd paid more attention in either history or catechism class... whichever ;-)

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    1. Odd Essay:
      You'll find lots of "confectionary" architecture I think when you're here. As for "Belén," yes, it means both Nativity Scene and Bethlehem. (I should have said both.)

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