Seville, ( pronounced Se Veee Yah) is the capital of the Andalusian provinces, the Flamenco Capital of the world. A city that captivates her visitors with a host of historical moments and monuments, grand Moorish Palaces, sun soaked plazas, and a wonderful and vibrant Seviliano people. According to myth, it was said to have been discovered 3000 years ago by the Greek God Hercules . Roman, Visigoth and Moorish influences have helped to paint this metropolis with all the vibrancy of its ever evolving flamboyance , and sun spirited moods that make this a city of Feeling as much as its sights.
Step into the world of Flamenco, where the dancer and musician mesmerize and beckons your soul to explode as you listen, and feel the beautiful tragedy of life and all its splendor. The contrasting religious splendor of the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world which shares the spot light with its Neighbor, the Moorish Alcazar is just another hint to the exotic splendor of such a diverse city. Food, wine, dance, and song are the spices of life for the Sevilianos and it is a must to enjoy and immerse oneself in local culture.
We left Spain: A tapas of beautiful people and landscapesMadrid: Royal Tapas and Royal Fun from Atocha Station at 9 am in the morning. Our train, the gorgeous Ave on the RENFE line was on time, and after passing through quick security, we loaded into our First Class coach. ( Information on how to travel by Train in Spain,please see ; Spain: A tapas of beautiful people and landscapes ) The coach was super Chic with black leather seats that offered a generous recline. We were offered Cava ( Spanish version of Champagne) and a news paper of our choice to read. The journey will be roughly 3 hours, passing through very few towns . A spectacular lunch was served with wine that kept flowing, and was delicious. After 3 hours, we pulled into Seville’s Santa Justa Station, exited and hailed a cab to our apartment rental.
A quick 5 minute ride, and we were dropped off on a very narrow one way street next to Calle Cristo del Buen Viaje. Our rental was in a very Andalusian style home, owned by a french woman from France. You enter through very big doors that probably at one time, a horse would fit through. There there is another door and finally you’re in the atrium / foyer of the house It is 3 stories high. We met with the daughter who showed us around the House , where breakfast would be ( in the kitchen down stairs) and eventually to our room on the 2nd floor. The house was decorated in typical Spanish and French decor…… Lots of art and pictures. It was very beautiful and quaint. Our room, was very pretty with two small single beds, a bathroom with shower, and a window that looked out unto the narrow street below. It was very humble, rustic, but yet perfect for what we needed. It was also a perfect home base for exploring the city . Here’s a link to the apartment: Casa Del Buen Viaje Seville
Excited to see the city, we dropped our bags off, talked a bit with the host’s daughter, made a plan or lack of plan actually, and set off charging to explore the city. Our area is filled with narrow streets that spill into small plaza squares , restaurants galore, bars, pubs, and little shops. Our fist stop lured us in with its mysterious sign…. Casa De Pilatos.
Casa De Pilatos: is an Andalusian Palace constructed in the 16th Century and is the permanent residence for the Duke and Duchess of Medinaceli. The renaissance gates spill into a typical Andalusian courtyard bright and beautiful. The palace keeping with the theme, was our first introduction to Moorish / Andalusian architecture and floor plans. Lawrence of Arabia was partially filmed here and its easy to see why. It is so beautifully constructed and decorated, and easily transports you back to the time of the Moorish Caliphate. The gardens are the true beauty of any Andalusian house or palace. The symmetry in design connects the soul to the present and it absolutely stunning. There was a painting on the wall, of a distant relative, the First on Only True BEARDED LADY. We were only allowed to visit certain parts of the palace as it is still occupied by the Duke.
We kept walking trying to find a path to the city center, all the while enjoying the different changes of facades of buildings in the area. We finally ended up on Aveninda De la Constitutional.
The area was teaming with activity. There were horse drawn carriages carrying their silly humans, street performers making a spectacle of themselves, a local monorail tram that takes you from one end of the city center to the next, and finally the facade of the Beautiful Cathedral. Having read prior to my journey to Seville that the Cathedral is best seen early in the morning when the lines are not too long, we decided to visit its Neighbor, The Royal Alcazar.
The Royal Alcazar, the first palace in Seville, was initially a fort for the current Caliph of Seville in the 10th Century . It later in the 14th Century, it was expanded to include the Mudejar Palace which is spectacular. With Gothic, Renaissance, Moorish, Islamic, and Baroque elements is a true Spectacle. It’s really easy to visit and inexpensive. 8 Euros grants you entrance to the Palace and it’s gardens. We spent a good 3 hours wandering around and exploring its beautiful gardens and intricately designed interiors with beautifully tiled walls, arabic carved arches and ceilings and a complete understanding of space and geometry.
After a visit to the Palace, hunger took the best of us and we sat at some restaurant in some corner of some plaza square who’s name eludes me and feasted on paella and my favorite croquet and olives. yUMMMMMM
We decided after this sumptuous dinner, to go back for a rest. After all we are in Spain so a siesta is a must. Yes our Siesta is later than normal but eh we are also on Hawaiian time. Later tonight, we are going to watch Flamenco in the raw. We were advised by our host that this Flamenco house is FREE, and is purely cultural . Did you say FREE? I’m down.
The Flamenco establishment was in a small space with a bar and fire-place in the entrance, and a larger area in the back with benches, tables, and some chairs as well as a bar, and outside patio. People started to fill the place up, and I’m so glad we got there early. We sat in the front next to the small square stage where 3 chairs sat . Later a man and a woman came on the stage, and a hush fell upon the audience . The woman started to whale a very deep heartbroken sound and thus started the Flamenco. After a few verses, and strumming of the guitar, a goddess in green entered the stage clapping her hands and stomping her feet to the rhythm of the song and like the flip of a switch, her mesmerizing dance electrified the stage. The performance went on for a good half hour before a break ensured, and upon the return to the stage, the Flamenco group finished off with a grand finale of amazing music and dancing. Our hearts were truly filled. The nice thing about this establishment, is that 1. ITS FREE 2. IT”S AUTHENTIC, 3. the people you meet from all over the world and Spain are so cool , 4. THEY ARE AMAZING
The next morning we woke up early, headed down to the kitchen to make our own little breakfast and coffee in our pajamas. I think we were a little loud, as we could hear people waking up in the other rooms . There were a few french couples and it was nice to hear an additional language.
We set off our day this morning going a different route . Thanks to the handy map we got, we took a left instead of a right and headed out to the main road where we entered from the train station yesterday. We walked down this modern street and main thoroughfare making our way to the Cathedral. Along the way we came across so many lovely and beautiful architecture, street art, and people going on their daily early morning lives.
Ofcourse the street performers were out in full force. A few in particular caught our interests as they seem to be defying the laws of gravity. How they do it or did it rather, we still don’t know.
We finally made our way to the cathedral, and one of its 8 entrance doors. The Main entrance still had a very long line, but the line went swiftly.
Cathedral of Seville: Is the largest gothic Church in the world and number 3 among the Cathedrals of the world and a World Unesco Heritage Site: It’s gothic buttresses , arches, and space is unbelievable. Construction started in 1401 and ended in 1506. Within the church there are 80 chapels . 80 CHAPELS!!!!!! You can imagine just from that statement how enormous this cathedral is.
There is a curious section dedicated to Christopher Columbus who is actually buried there. The main Alter is so grand with its choir hall behind and I just am without words to try to explain its amazing beauty. There is also a section within the church that showcases all the magnificent jewels transformed into religious artifacts. The cathedral is filled with so much gold, that one can only imagine how wealthy Spain was during that time after raping and pillaging South America for the GOLD.
It cost about 8 Euros to get in, and you can stay as long as you want, but you must make your way to the Giralda Bell Tower. You enter from the church and climb up and up to the top. It is wide enough to fit a man and horse. Once you’re at the top You can enjoy a panoramic view of the city below.
Our visit was just excellent and spiritual fulfilling. Now it was time to fill our tummies . We found a cute little restaurant on the same side of the cathedral. I’m sure it was touristy but we didn’t care, it was delicious….
We spent the rest of the day walking around and exploring the city.. Shopping here and there, grabbing all the spanish combs in the vicinity. It was such a lovely day. The air was getting even more chilly than it was in Madrid even though Seville is supposed to be the hotter / drier part of Spain. We filled our stomachs with food, and retired late in the evening after being out all day and night.
This morning we carried on with our routine of having breakfast in the kitchen and headed out a little later than normal. We did enjoy a little sleep in and now we are off to see the Plaza De Espana
Plaza De Espana: ( Spain’s Square) was built in 1928 for the Iberian – American World Fair. It is a perfect example of the regional architectural designs. It is located in a pretty park. We walked from home here and in a about a good 30 minute walk we had arrived to the entrance to the park. The Plaza’s architecture is fabulous and reminds one of spanish architectural glory. We rented a boat, and attempted to row around the surrounding moat. This was more difficult than it looked and after a while, Linda took over. She also scored herself a gorgeous hat from one of the sellers around the attraction. It was Bull Fighting season, and wedding season, and we saw a good many beautifully dressed ladies in their fantastic Millen hats and couples completing their romantic wedding ceremony by capturing stunning photos from the bridge.
After a lovely few hours enjoying the plaza and park we walked over the bridge to the riverside of the city. Starving ( we always are) we sat and enjoyed our lunch Al Fresco with beautiful views of the river and bridges. After lunch we enjoyed long leisurely strolls throughout the city.
Our final full day and night was spent first by visiting the ancient roman walls next to the famous church of the Macarena. No not the dance , but the crying virgin Mary. La Macarena is the traditional name for the area, and the church reflects the area’s name. The neighborhood is known for housing the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza Macarena ( Our lady of Hope) The crying madonna was so beautiful and sad and well worth the trip there to the North Wall.
After our visit to the Macarena, we headed towards Alameida de Hercules to try to find an exposition of Fashion periods that we kept seeing off of buses and trams in the city. We mapped out the area, and took a taxi to quicken our journey. Alameda De Hercules is located south by the water in an area that is famous for its Gay clubs and pubs. Ofcourse they would be around art. 🙂 Unfortunately, the more we tried to look for it, the more lost we became. Finally with the help of someone on the street we came across the building housing the exhibit. Guess what, it was closed. DAMN!!!! Being that it was a Sunday, most of the places seemed to be closed. Starving we searched and searched for some place to eat , trying to read the menu, and finding that RiGht place to eat. Well, the more we walked, the angrier we got and the more hungry we were becoming. Finally we found a cute restaurant that seemed to be packed. We were given a table next to the most drop dead gorgeous family all dressed up in their Sunday Best. We stuck to the normal Paella Morisco ( seafood paella) since I couldn’t understand a word on the menu.
We headed back to the area by our house , to that tangled swirls of street, markets, restaurants, and shops. We came across some wailing and stopped to look what was going on. There was this local girl sitting on her chair, starting her introduction to her impromptu flamenco song. She sang with all her heart, and her friends danced and sang along with her. It was spectacular and a perfect time to stop for a cocktail.
As we made our way through shops and after shops, the sounds of drums and trumpets started to fill the air. What was going on? It seemed there was some holy procession with a good number of people dressed in black and carrying Jesus and Mary. They marched somberly and we followed them for a good 5 minutes, listening to the music and feeling the spirit.
As night fell upon us, and after filling our stomachs with a delicious evening meal, we headed back to our house to pack up, and get ready for our departure in the morning. After we were all packed, showered, and in bed we talked and talked about our lives . Linda was filling me in about her time in Alaska. it was really a very special moment for us. We had traveled for a good 2 weeks straight together, and I felt even closer to her than I already was.
And just like that, we were on our train in our leather black seats , cava in hand , on our way back to Madrid. Our Journey together had come to an end, but mine was still continuing. Next stop, San Sebástian: “Basque”ing in the Glory.
Memories are the truest gifts one can ever have. For without memories who are we? I’m so grateful for all the memories we created together, and all the ammunition for a really good laugh….
Gracia Seville…. Asta Lou……
To read more about Spain and my adventures please click here: Spain: A tapas of beautiful people and landscapes