An Attempt to Define Seville
To define Seville in one sentence would be nearly impossible. This city, in the South of Spain, has been apart of history for over two millennia. The first to leave their mark to be found today were the Romans, with many Roman ruins littered about the city. The next to leave behind what they created were the Moors, gifting the city with its Alcazar and the Minaret that still dominates the city skyline. The Christian era saw the city boom into an era of colonization. It developed into the city that became the gateway to the Americas after their discovery by Christopher Columbus. It is also the city where he rests today in the Cathedral (or is it him?). Today, Seville looks forward to the future but has done what so many other cities have failed to do… modernize without losing or forgetting about its past. (So there you go, the shortest definition of this city that I could come up with).
A Journey Through Thousands of Years of History
Walking the streets of Seville brings one through thousands of years of history all at the same time. This could not be more demonstrated than at the Plaza del Triunfo. Here, the grand Cathedral de Sevilla towers over the square. The church was built on top of the mosque that once stood here but still uses the minaret as a bell tower to this day. It is the largest Gothic church in the world and holds the tomb of Christopher Columbus and many have come here to offer thanks, including the survivors of Magellan’s crew who were the first to successfully circumnavigate the world.
As you turn your head the other way, the Alcazar (royal palace) challenges the church for space on the square. The Alcazar, like many buildings in Spain is a combination of both Moorish and Christian Spanish influences. The fortress was originally constructed by the Moors and then Christian kings later turned it into a palace. Whilst inside, you are viewing images of Jesus and the Blessed Mother one minute, and then admiring Arabic inscriptions the next. Surrounding the plaza in the space that remains, are buildings that date back to the colonial era of Spain, their bright colors reflecting on the way of life of local Sevillanos. Outside of the square, Older sections of the city have been left intact, offering visitors a glimpse into Seville’s rich past, while the Sevillanos have been careful to build anew without taking away from what remains from history.
Where to Go in Seville
One can simply not get enough of walking the narrow streets of Seville. The atmosphere here is intoxicating and never gets old. Four days are the minimum here as Claire and I were reluctant to leave this town, but with only 3 months to get across the European Union, we couldn’t spend more time here. If you plan to visit both the Cathedral and the Alcazar, you should split them between two separate days. There is too much to take in to do them one right after the other.
If you have to choose between the two, pick the Cathedral as Claire and I were actually disappointed with what the Alcazar offered for the price you pay. (However, if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, many scenes were shot in the Alcazar) For the Cathedral, It’s worth getting in line a hour early before it opens at 11am in order to grab tickets for a guided tour of the roofs of the Cathedral for an extra 6 euros. It was a unique experience and also gives you great views of the city of Seville.
Our favorite spot by far however, was actually free to visit and is relatively a new addition to the city. Built in 1928 for the Iberian-American Exposition in 1929, the Plaza de Espana looks out of this world. In fact, it is out of this world as it was the site of a scene for Star Wars, serving as the landscape of a city on the planet of Naboo. The plaza is a great photo opportunity but is best experienced by slowing down and relaxing among the bustle of the plaza. Getting here early morning is a treat as you watch the square slowly come alive. This is a great place to grab a book and spend a few hours of the day. The square is full of examples of famous tile work techniques used in the city centuries ago. Taking a stroll around the park connected to the plaza is also worth an hour of your time.
As for food, Tapas are king in Seville. Restaurants ranging from the typical hole in the walls to the super fancy all serve their own version of Andalusia cuisine. Tapas here are simple but pay great attention to detail and the blending of flavors. These small dishes are a great way to experience a variety of Spanish tastes as a meal for two often involves 4 tapas (and a beer or two) for under 20 euro. Claire and I can never get enough of these dishes, and they were one of the main highlights so far.
Getting around the areas of interest is easily done by foot, and local transportation is excellent. In order to save money we decided to eat out for lunch but to cook back at our hostel for dinners. So far this system has worked out great and we plan to continue you it throughout our travels.
The City You Never Will Want to Leave
Despite being at the beginning of our travels through Spain, Claire and I already know this city will be the closest to our hearts when we leave the country. The atmosphere, the food, and the streets, are simply too wonderful to leave behind. We most certainly had to wrench ourselves away from this city as our journey continued northward towards Madrid. Whether you are in Spain for one week or four, Seville has to be on your itinerary. You will understand once you arrive.