We’ve had a lot of gloomy weather in beautiful Vancouver and my mind is wandering to sunnier spots. Aaah…Sevilla, Spain, now that makes me feel cheery. Our son Alex spent four months in Sevilla as part of a gap year and we of course took the opportunity to visit him. That was almost a year ago, last November. Sevilla is a stunning city and November in southern Spain is as good as it gets—no crowds and beautiful warm, sunny weather. Mike and I had an awesome time discovering the city and Alex took full advantage of scrumptious tapas meals courtesy of mom and dad.
Sevilla’s main tourist attractions are overwhelming and we quickly realized that we needed to slow down the pace, interspersing “must-see” sights with aimless wandering and leisurely meals in pretty squares. I think what struck us most as we explored the city is the many things that make up Sevilla’s deep-rooted identity. From flamenco to bullfighting, Catholic tradition to Moorish past, world-famous ceramic tiles to tapas epicentre, the city brims with an amazing mixture of history, culture, beauty, and passion.
Alex didn’t have much time for sightseeing with us (claimed he was busy studying Spanish…hmm) but he was anxious to show us the Plaza de España, a complex built in 1928 for the American-Ibero Exposition World’s Fair. The grandeur of the place, and the blend of Moorish, Art Deco, and Renaissance-influenced architecture are striking. But perhaps what excited Alex most about the Plaza de España is that a couple of his favourite films—The Dictator and Star Wars—had scenes shot there. It was also featured in Lawrence of Arabia.
As some of you may remember, Granada’s Alhambra is one of my all time favourite places, so visiting Sevilla’s Alcázar was high on my list. I’m a big fan of Moorish architecture. Its graceful arches, intricate tile work, and soothing water features totally enrapture me. While the Alcázar, a royal palace originally developed by Muslim Kings, does not have the dramatic hill-top presence of Granada’s Alhambra, its architecture and gardens are breathtaking. Sevilla’s Alcázar is a Unesco World Heritage site and is still used today as the official Sevilla residence for the royal family.
The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, better known as the Seville Cathedral is impossible to miss. It dominates the old city centre. To put it in perspective, the Seville Cathedral is the third largest church in the world, and the largest Gothic church. La Giralda, the cathedral’s bell tower is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and comes in very handy when you need to get your bearings. The inside of the church is cavernous, and the pillars have an unbelievable circumference. Churches are not really Alex’s thing, but this one has a special, if controversial draw—the tomb and purported remains of Christopher Columbus.
Below are a random selection of photos from our aimless wanderings and re-charging breaks.
The photo above and below are crappy, but I put them in because they remind me of an idyllic afternoon in Sevilla’s Barrio Santa Cruz—a long lunch and glasses of wine in a pretty, orange tree-lined plaza with the Alcázar wall on one side and view to La Giralda bell tower on the other. I blame the bad photography on too much wine.
Sevilla occupies a lovely location along the Guadalquivir River. Most of the main tourist sights are found on the east bank. We stayed on the west bank, in Triana, a wonderfully authentic neighbourhood that is also home to Sevilla’s famous ceramic tile shops and factories.
Sadly, we spent far too little time in Sevilla—only four days—but long enough to fall under her spell. I’m sure that for 18-year-old Alex his four months in Sevilla have shaped who he is and left indelible memories—and probably best I don’t know too much.
Next stop, Cordoba.
If you missed my Southern Spain series, please take a look at these posts: