March 12, 2012

SIGHTSEEING: Setas de la Encarnación

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It’s impossible to appreciate the full beauty of any region. I’ve lived in California most of my 21 years, Ithaca for two of these and Sevilla for two months. I wouldn’t claim to have experienced half of what my two American homes have to offer. Recently, I’ve started to worry that there simply won’t be enough time to ingest the wonders of this majestic Mediterranean town. Luckily, sometimes life provides shortcuts.

Sitting in your immaculate hotel room with overstuffed fanny pack and Lonely Planet guidebook, you will surely read about the incredible Catedral de Santa María de la Sede de Sevilla, the Torre del Oro or the Puente del Alamillo. But if you do find yourself in Sevilla, do your eyes a favor and seek out a beige, mushroom-shaped building and climb to the top. From there, you can see all these things at once.

El Metropol Parasol de la Encarnación, known also as Setas de la Encarnación — “seta” means mushroom in Spanish — is a recently built intrigue that’s modern eloquence somehow contrasts with the antiquity of its surroundings. It still manages, however, to assimilate without being too obnoxious. The best type of new kid.

As the colloquial name would suggest, the large wooden building looks like a series of mushroom pods fused together with a globular roof. This platform roof drapes over a public plaza — Plaza de la Encarnación — and, as the best roofs always are, is accessible by foot.

Before heading straight for the top, check out the underground exhibit of ancient ruins. City workers discovered these ruins while the area was being excavated in the 1990s during a subterranean parking lot project. Luckily for humanity, the proposal for Las Setas quickly replaced the parking lot.

After paying one Euro, an elaborate polka-dotted elevator takes you to the second floor (which in the U.S. would be called the third floor), where a lazy walkway traces the curves of the mushroom pod roof to provide incredible panoramic views of Sevilla. The influence of Arab culture is evident. From above, the architectural details that highlight this rich historical component of southern Spain’s landscape awe the viewer. If you were Sarah Palin, you’d be able to see Africa.

You will never make it to all the things you can see from the roof of this giant wooden mushroom. But as the sky bleeds red with the setting of the hot Spanish sun, you may find yourself content exactly where you are.

Skyler Schain is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at sschain@cornellsun.com. Notes from Abroad: Sightseeing appears on Tuesdays.

Original Author: Skyler Schain