Seville – a large city with a cosy town feel
Exploring Seville on our road trip around the south of Spain, Debs and I were getting more and more relaxed by the minute and this tranquillity continued in this city with a cosy town feel.
We lost ourselves wandering slowly around the back lanes and alleyways of the old Jewish quarter, we ambled among the opulence of the Alcathar and we lingered during a sunset from the top of some giant wooden mushrooms – but first we had to get into the parking area at our chosen AirBnB apartment and that was proving far more difficult than it should have been.
The directions had been simple enough. Park at the security gate, press the bell and our host would come down and open the gate. Like most city apartments around Spain the complex was built around a large central courtyard – but getting in was testing our navigation skills.
Whilst Debs is fluent in Spanish I could probably have done with this phrase book as all my Spanish flew out of my head whilst speaking via the gate intercom!
Debs parked outside the gate while I went to find the correct doorbell. That was easier said than done; and eventually I resorted to pressing the bells en masse trying to block out the angry shouts that were coming from the direction where Debs was parked. Yikes! A white van and an angry man were trying to get past our parked car – but there was nowhere to go on the busy street. Debs had already taken a spin around the (very large) block twice for other vehicles and now she was refusing to move.
As white van man got ever angrier Debs, refusing to back out into the crazy traffic for a third time, skilfully drove up between the tables and chairs on the pavement set out in front of the bar on the corner and parked up – not phased at all by the bemused customers who were wondering what on earth she was doing or the man whose language was getting ever more colourful and blissfully ignored the chaos around her.
Embracing the chaos that can be Spain I took a leaf out of her book and sat and calmly waited while our hostess came down to let us in.
Have you ever stayed in an AirBnB with a family? If you would like to challenge yourself with different types of accommodation, check out the Smash the Pumpkin Project (click here) which will push your boundaries and help you to discover what you really are capable of
Exploring Seville on our road trip
What a start to Seville – but luckily, once in our apartment all was calm and we were very close to a bus route into the city centre so we could leave Betty the Berlingo parked up for the 3 days that we were there.
The weather couldn’t have been better with brilliant deep blue skies and warm golden autumn sun so we walked and we walked, soaking up the ambiance and tranquillity of Seville.
The alcazar is the shining star of the city. We had thought that the Alhambra in Granada was great but the alcazar is fantastic.
Room after room are decorated with patterned frescos and intricately carved plasterwork, ceramic tiles on floors and walls shone. The gardens were just as delightful with fountains splashing and shade cast by long walkways along the walls.
Originally built as a palace by the Moors in 1181 the Alcazar just oozes opulence and was worth every centimo that we paid to get in. The hamman – the baths – remain in the gardens and in the palace rooms lead into more rooms in a maze.
Many episodes of the Game of Thrones have been filmed here and if it weren’t for the hordes of tourists it would be so easy to imagine that you were back in a time of sultans and their wives, gardeners tending the exotic shrubs and children playing in the courtyards.
The Metropol Parasol
In contrast to the old and the traditional alcazar the large structure of the mushrooms or parasols intrigued us. Designed by the German architect Jurgen Mayer and completed in 2011 the series of wooden platforms connected by walkways high above the plaza below form the largest wooden structure in the world.
We timed our visit to perfection – just as dusk was falling. Our entry fee included a glass of wine so taking a leaf out of the other visitors we wandered around as the city lights lit up and the sky turned pink, then orange and then a deep crimson.
And another surprise – the Roman remains underneath the site had been preserved and displayed in a museum whils the paved space at ground level was home to what appeared to be every child in Seville having roller skate lessons
A huge surprise to me was the Plaza Espana. Now every village, town and city in Spain or in fact any country with links to Spain has a plaza. They vary but usually contain a church, benches, shops and bars and a statue or a fountain. That is what I expected here but when we came around the corner…..well, I could only repeat stunned wow’s as I snapped off my photographs.
Set on the edge of a vast parkland this is one hell of a plaza. Colourfully tiled niches – one for each region/precinct of Spain are built in a huge semi-circle while a small lake and a canal complete with boats flaoting around on it sparkles in front
Seville is built on the Guadalquivir River and has long been associated with the gitanos (gypsies) and flamenco. It has lots of beautiful buildings, many of which are clustered around the St Mary of the See Cathedral (one of the biggest cathedrals in the world) and the city hall.
And then in 1929 Seville hosted theExposicion Ibero-Americana when it built many key structures ind different styles including Art Deco to show off the culture and the region.
We found ourselves yet another free (for tips) walking tour and our guide Roberto from Feel the City Tours explained the best bits and the history of the city.
We saw the General Archive of the Indies building, the Torre del Oro and the Royal Tobacco Factory – now housing the University but was the inspiration for Carmen; the opera.
One of the nicest things was the fact that so many streets in the centre were pedestrian only and were serviced by sleek modern trams.
Do try and get out and explore Seville by night as well as during the daytime. The buildings and parks are floodlit, the view from the wooden mushrooms is magical.
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You can read the other articles in this Road Trip Spain series here:
- Stage 1: Alicante to San Jose, via Cartagena, Bolnuevo & Mazarron
- Stage 2: Cabo de Gato, the Sierra Nevada & Granada
- Stage 3: Granada & Ronda
- Stage 4: Cadiz & Jerez
- Stage 5: This article: Seville
- Stage 6: Cordoba, Cuenca & Teruel