Hello, lovely readers, but most important travelers
It’s been a long time since my latest post, but I have been very busy and simply couldn’t find the time to write about the amazing places I have seen this spring, one of them being Andalucia, Spain. There are so many things to be said about this destination and I don’t even know where to begin. I just made a list with all the things I’ve seen during my trip and the best way to describe them, but also to give you some tips on how to plan your vacation there is to write not only one post about my adventure, but a few in order to share with you my experience and my favorite spots.
And if I mentioned the word “favorite”, then I will definitely start with SEVILLE, or the heart of the Andalucia region where me and my husband spend three unforgettable days to celebrate one year since we’ve been legally married. This is probably the most beautiful city in Spain and one of the most interesting places I have seen so far. And when I say beautiful, I mean it with all my heart, because this place seduces you from the very start and it carries you on an imaginary journey in the cultural history of Spain.
Both modern and traditional, Seville has a particular charm and a different air around it that makes you feel on vacation even if you are actually living there. Beside the many historic ensembles you can visit here, you can walk anytime on the cobbled streets of Santa Cruz barrio and maybe stop for a quick but oh so tasty tapa and definitely a sangria to boost your energy.
If you plan a trip to Andalucia, you have to spend a few days here, because Seville is the kind of place that will make you love Spain in a second. Seville is colorful, elegant, sunny, vibrant…practically it’s everything I love about a city. This was our thought the moment we arrived here on a sunny May afternoon, driving (a cute Fiat 500 of course) on the main roads and watching the majestic palm trees along the way while trying to get to the hotel. We were both hungry, but also eager to go for a walk and get a glimpse of this feeling – because Seville is not just a city, is a passionate feeling so typical to the Spanish population.
First thing we saw here was the Plaza de Espana – a plaza-palace unique in the world. You probably all know the colorful photos from the plaza, but trust me that you have to stand in the middle of it to acknowledge the real dimensions and the beauty of it. The Plaza de España is a spectacle of light and majesty and the lavish semicircular structure curves around the square, the fountains and the 515 metres long canal – where you can enjoy a romantic, but fun boat trip. The highlights of the square are for sure the murals made from colored ceramic tiles (mostly blue, yellow and green), each representing a province from Spain – after seeing all of them, we wanted to visit each of them. If you visit Plaza de Espana, you cannot miss the peaceful gardens of the Maria Luisa Park. The lush vegetation, the lovely ceramic decorations on the alleys and the horse drawn carriages make your experience here even more relaxing. We ended our first day in Seville, having a typical dinner at a nice restaurant near the Guadalquivir river, called Casa Carmen.
Due to the lovely weather, Seville is packed with tourists during spring and if you want to visit all the main sights in the city but also to enjoy the vibe at your own pace, you have to start your day in the morning. Some of the main attractions can be seen from the streets (for us, every corner and every fountain was beautiful and deserved a look and a photo), but some of them have to be admired slowly – every detail having a certain charm. The must see places around Seville are the Cathedral, the Real Alcazar de Seville and the Metropol Parasol, but if you have time, the city has so much more to offer to curious travelers like you and me.
The Cathedral of Seville is the largest Gothic temple in the world is definitely worth a visit because among other things, it has the tomb of Christopher Columbus – which is pretty amazing! From a historic point of view, first there was the Almohad Mosque (constructions were completed in 1198), but then after the conquest of the city, on November 23, 1248, the building of the mosque was converted into the cathedral of the archdiocese of the Kingdom of Seville. The construction changed the liturgical orientation of the mosque, which was towards the south, for the Christian orientation towards the east, placing the Main Chapel on the east side. With the passage of time, the walls, facades and pillars were covered with altarpieces and paintings. At the end of the 14th century, the mosque was badly damaged, at risk of ruin and it was decided to be demolished and rebuild a Christian cathedral. Its construction was carried out in several phases over more than 500 years, resulting in a mixture of several architectural styles that provide its special beauty.
Your visit to the cathedral must not end without a tour of the Giralda – the bell tower of the Cathedral, present on the most famous images of Andalucia itself. The tower is built from two different but perfectly unified pieces, each with its own story – just a lovely example of the mixing cultures of Seville: the Muslim body which is the oldest part and the current Christian part – the bell tower that tops the actual tower. Back in the days, the Sultan ascended the tower mounted on horseback to see the wonderful view of Seville – it was possible because the Giralda does not have stairs, but 35 wide ramps. I read about this emblematic monument that in its days, it was the tallest tower in the world (!!!), standing at 97.5 m in height – like we needed another reminder of how fast time flies and how technology and engineering evolves from a century to another.
Located in the heart of Seville, the Real Alcazar is one of the oldest palaces still in use in the world. The palace has evolved through different stages over time, from the late 11th century to the present day. From its walls we can appreciate the influence of the cultures that have passed through the city (it was built for a Muslim governor and is still in use by the Spanish royal family). This palace-fortress is formed of exquisite rooms decorated with pretty coloured tiles and magnificent ceilings. But the highlight of this place is in my opinion the outdoor architecture – the use of water and the fascinating gardens decorated with fountains and ceramic details and enriched with that fresh orange blossom smell. When at the palace, do not miss the Patio de las Doncellas courtyard, with its beautiful tiled plinths, the Patio de las Muñecas courtyard, with its collection of capitals and the stunning Hall of Ambassadors. And if you are not interested in visiting historic monuments and learn a thing or two about the amazing Spanich culture, I will add that the Alcázar featured as a location for the Game of Thrones TV series – the Water gardens of Dorne, so you can spend a lovely afternoon searching for Oberyn Martell. Sounds interesting or what?
The tour of the Real Alcazar, together with the gardens takes at least 2-3 hours. So, after a long walk in that hot Spanish sun, a nice lunch is well deserved and with barrio Santa Cruz just around the corner, you can rest at one of the tapas bars. Santa Cruz, once known as La Juderia (the Jewish quarter) is the best barrio to get lost in Andalusia. You can wander an entire afternoon and not be bored, enjoying those narrow streets. Cute hidden squares, traditional houses, wonderful old palaces or chapels (that were once synagogues) are just some of the secrets kept inside this charming barrio. Let the magic happen and you will find out why Seville is also called a doorway to the past.
Seville is a big city, the largest in Andalucia with many places to see and streets to wander, not only those in Santa Cruz. We also enjoyed a few hours on Calle Tetuan and Calle Cuna for a shopping spree on our way to Metropol Parasol. This…”structure” is one of the most Instagrammed places in Seville and as a travel blogger I couldn’t have missed it. It turned out to be quite an interesting experience which ended with a killer view of the city. It was designed as a giant sunshade and it is believed to be the world’s largest wooden structure. Despite the divided opinions, the construction is for sure a formidable sight with its 30m-high mushroom-like pillars and undulating honeycombed roof where you can walk, have a drink at the panoramic cafe or just admire a Spanish sunset.
As I mentioned before, there are so many things to see in Seville. This is not just a city, it’s a mix of culture, history and people from different places in the world (Spanish, Jewish, Muslim etc) each with their own customs and tradition. So, if you spend a few days here, you should plan to go for a short walk across the Guadalquivir river in the Triana barrio, formerly known as Seville’s gypsy neighborhood. From the left side of the river, you can also observe (best at sunset) the Golden Tower (Torre del Oro). When returning to the right side of the river, don’t forget to stop at Churreria Los Especiales for some churros and a cup of hot chocolate. It’s not a fancy place, but is wellknown among the locals and I confirm that the churros are delicious and the best thing is the view (at the beginning of the Triana bridge – Puente de Isabel II). Near, you can visit the Real Maestranza Bull Ring and Bullfighting Museum – one of the finest bullrings in Spain, and with seating for 14,000 spectators, it is also one of the largest. It was built in 1761 and it is an emblematic landmark of Seville and its famous tradition of bullfighting. At the museum you can see traditional costumes, photographs, and paintings related to the dramatic art of bullfighting. I am sure it is a wonderful place to see, but we strongly disagree with this kind of violent tradition and we didn’t want to visit.
Seville is famous for its art, food and colors. Art is dressed up in many forms, from the beautifully designed mosaics to their specific flamenco – a flamboyant art form with roots in the Gypsy culture. Flamenco includes both dancing and singing, but most importantly, it is an expression of the soul. The best flamenco dancers have technical process as well as a special gift of channeling the emotions and are highly appreciated by both locals and tourists. A nice evening can end at a small theater watching a flamenco show or, if you prefer other things, at a rooftop bar admiring the sunset…accompanied by a glass of Sangria of course.
Despite all of the magnificent sights in Seville, we loved the most the vibe. That Spanish fiesta feeling that was present from the early morning till the sun went down. The sevillanos are a different kind of people They really are. Young or old, single or married, poor or rich…they love life. They enjoy those little moments with their loved ones, with their family and friends. They like to dress up no matter the age. They like to go out on the streets, in crowded bars to eat tapas and to tell stories and jokes over a drink. They are so cheerful and positive and they like to party. They have mastered the art of celebrating almost everything. They are happy although I am sure they have their own problems but they know how to managed those situations way better than other.
I’ll drink a Sangria to that, lovely people! And after being part of such a happy place, all I can wish you all is happiness (the genuine one), love (the real one) and good vibes only.
Always remember that you attract what you expect, you reflect what you desire , you become what you respect and you mirror what you admire.
All my best wishes,
Arina in Wonderland