The Kidron Valley on the eastern side of The Old City of Jerusalem, separating the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives, continues east through the Judean desert in the West Bank, towards the Dead Sea. The central point of reference for the upper Kidron Valley is its confluence of Jerusalem's richest concentration of rock-hewn tombs. This area, located on the periphery of the village Silwan, was one of the main burial grounds of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period.Several of these tombs were also used later in time, either as burial or as shelters for hermits and monks of the large monastic communities, which inhabited the Kidron Valley.
The three monumental tombs on the eastern side of the Kidron Valley are among the most well-known landmarks of ancient Jerusalem. These are, from north to south, the so-called Tomb of Absalom, Tomb of Benei Hezir and Tomb of Zechariah.
Absalom's Tomb consists of two parts. First, a lower cube hewn out of the bedrock, decorated with engaged Ionic columns bearing a Doric frieze and crowned by an Egyptian cornice. This part of the monument contains a small chamber with an entrance and two arched funeral niches and constitutes the actual tomb. The second part, built of ashlars, is placed on top of the rock-hewn cube. It consists of a square pedestal carrying a round drum, itself topped by a conical roof. The cone is slightly concave and is crowned by an Egyptian-style lotus flower. The 'Pillar of Absalom' is dated to the 1st century CE.
Tomb of Zechariah is a monolith — it is completely carved out of the solid rock and does not contain a burial chamber. The lowest part of the monument is a crepidoma, a base made of three steps. Above it there is a stylobate, upon which there is a decoration of two ionic columns between two half ionic columns and at the corners there are two pilasters. The capitals are of the Ionic order and are decorated with the egg-and-dart decoration. The upper part of the monument is an Egyptian-style cornice upon which sits a pyramid. Interestingly the fine masonry and decoration that is visible on the western side, the facade, is on the western side alone. On the other sides of the tomb the work is extremely rough and unfinished; it seems as if the work was abruptly stopped before the artists could finish the job.
According to a Jewish tradition, which is first suggested by the 1215 CE writings of Menahem haHebroni, this is the tomb of the priest Zechariah Ben Jehoiada, a figure that the Book of Chronicles.
The Tomb of Benei Hezir is the oldest of four monumental rock-cut tombs in the Kidron Valley. The tomb dates to the second century BCE, the Hellenistic period and the time of the Hasmonean monarchy in Jewish history. It is a complex of burial caves. The tomb was originally accessed from a single rock-cut stairwell which descends to the tomb from the north. At a later period an additional entrance was created by quarrying a tunnel from the courtyard of the Tomb of Zechariah. This is also the contemporary entrance to the burial complex.References:
Seville's cathedral, Santa Maria de la Sede, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and is recognised as UNESCO World Heritage. After its completion in the early 16th century, Seville Cathedral supplanted Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world, a title the Byzantine church had held for nearly a thousand years.
The basilica occupies the site of the great Aljama mosque, built in the late 12th century by the Almohads, the ruling Moorish dynasty, of which the only remaining parts are the Patio de Naranjas, the Puerta del Perdon (on Calle Alemanes, on the north side), and the Giralda (formerly the minaret, now the belltower).
Shortly after Seville's conquest by Ferdinand III, the mosque was converted into the city's cathedral. Its orientation was changed and its spaces partitioned and adorned to suit Christian worship practices. The internal space was gradually divided into chapels by constructing walls in the bays along the northern and southern walls. Almost the entire eastern half of the cathedral was occupied by the royal chapel that would hold the bodies of Ferdinand, his wife and Alfonso the Wise.
In 1401, city leaders decided to build a new cathedral to replace the grand mosque that served as the cathedral until then. Construction continued until 1506. The clergy of the parish offered half their stipends to pay for architects, artists, stained glass artisans, masons, carvers, craftsman and labourers and other expenses. Five years after construction ended, in 1511, the crossing lantern, or cimborrio, collapsed and work on the cathedral recommenced. The crossing again collapsed in 1888 due an earthquake, and work on the dome continued until at least 1903.
The interior has the longest nave of any cathedral in Spain. The central nave rises to a height of 42 metres. In the main body of the cathedral, the most noticeable features are the great boxlike choir loft, which fills the central portion of the nave, and the vast Gothic retablo of carved scenes from the life of Christ. This altarpiece was the lifetime work of a single craftsman, Pierre Dancart.
The Capilla Mayor (Great Chapel), dominated by a vast Gothic retablo (altarpiece) comprised of 45 carved scenes from the life of Christ, as well as Santa Maria de la Sede, the cathedral's patron saint. The lifetime's work of a single craftsman, Pierre Dancart, this is the ultimate masterpiece of the cathedral - the largest and richest altarpiece in the world and one of the finest examples of Gothic woodcarving anywhere.
The Giralda is the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville. Its height is 105 m. The Giralda is the former minaret of the mosque that stood on the site under Muslim rule, and was built to resemble the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, Morocco. It was converted into a bell tower for the cathedral after the Reconquista, although the topmost section dates from the Renaissance.
The tomb of Christopher Columbus is one of the main attractions of the cathedral for visitors, housing the remains of the great explorer who died in poverty in Valladolid. The tomb itself is more recent, from the 1892, with four bearers presenting the kingdoms of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarra.