Sevilla, soul of Andalucía

Sevilla is one of the Spanish cities that I knew I had to see at least once. It’s the capital of Andalucía (the southern region of Spain) and the birthplace of flamenco. Rick Steves says it’s the southern city with the most soul, and that you should just walk around and soak up the atmosphere. So that we did! This was the last stop on our trip (with my aunt and uncle).

Finding a hotel last minute wasn’t easy (especially since it was a weekend, and we were 3 people that wanted to share a room). But luckily I stumbled upon some “vacation apartments” in the center of Sevilla. It was one of the best prices available for downtown on the day we wanted, and we were pleasantly surprised when we got there. The place was really nice, and included a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living room with a pull out sofa. Everything was updated and modern. And we were just a block away from the main cathedral.

Once we checked in, we went walking through the barrio de Santa Cruz, which is known for its tiny streets, good food, pretty patios, and historical landmarks. My favorite part of this walking tour was sipping some tinto de verano (a popular summertime Spanish drink that has red wine and 7up) on a tiny “kissing street”. The kissing streets are called that way because they’re so narrow that people across the street from each other could kiss on their balconies.

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The bell tower of the cathedral
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Part of the cathedral…could have used a wide angle lens here! It’s huge!
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Wall of the alcazar
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Where the royal “secret service” used to live
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House of Murillo, a famous Sevillian paintor
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The bar where we stopped for a drink, next to a kissing street
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One of the most narrow streets I’ve ever seen!
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Spanish tortilla with salmorejo on top. Very good!

After dinner, we went to what they call the “Plaza de España”. A lot of cities have one, for example, in Madrid it’s a plaza with a statue of Cervantes. In Sevilla, it’s a huge park with an impressive building in the center that was built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It has a painting on tiles for each region in Spain. Now, the building houses government offices.

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There is also a small aritifial river that runs around the building and during the day you can rent a small boat and paddle along it.

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My cell phone camera can’t do it justice, especially with the low night light. 

The next day, we toured the cathedral which holds treasures like the largest pearl in the world and Christopher Columbus’ tomb (his real name is Cristobal Colón, so I have no idea why we translate it to English).

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I’m not sure how they achieved such intricate ceilings, but they’re amazing.
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Baroque art is so crazy. This particular piece shows many different scenes from Jesus’ life.
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One of the oldest Spanish flags known to exist. 
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Christopher Columbus’ tomb, held by 4 statues of men representing  the 4 kingdoms in Spain when he was alive (Castilla, León, Aragon, and Navara)
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Apparently, the body of Columbus has traveled to so many different places that there was doubt on whether the body inside was really his. A DNA test done in 2003 showed that it is “most likely” him. Or maybe his brother?

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The angel in front has the world’s largest pearl as her torso. 

Next, we walked up the bell tower for some great views of Sevilla.

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We saw a cool looking rooftop bar here, and ended up going there later!

After a rest and a beer (hey, it was hot!), we went to the Alcázar (a royal house). The building is beautiful and interesting because it was built and changed during so many time periods. It has islamic, renaissance, gothic, and baroque artistic elements. The current Spanish royal family still resides there when they visit Sevilla.

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Just looking at the main entrance gives you an idea of the mix of cultures

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The main plaza
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This interior plaza reminds me of the Alhambra in Granada.
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Each room was unique and had endless details
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Large windows opened up to the gardens
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While contemplating the tapistries, my aunt found and pointed out this beautiful detail of a dead body floating down a river. Ah, the good old days…
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It was a gorgeous day

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One of the tunnels in the garden leads down to this…I wasn’t sure what it was exactly, but it was cool (both looking and in temperature)
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My aunt and uncle are so much fun! I’m so grateful they took me along on this trip.

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The bougainvillea was gorgeous. 

Continuing our long day trying to see as much as possible, we trekked over to the other side of the river, to the “Triana” neighborhood. The neighborhood is famous for its flamenco dancers and singers and its tile industry. So we checked out a tile store, walked around, and got dinner by the river.

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At the end, we had to hurry because we had booked tickets to a flamenco show on the other side of town. Even though I had been living in Spain for over a year, I had never seen a live flamenco show! We all wanted to experience it, so we went to the place that a local recommended (the Museum of Flamenco).

The venue was small, with less than 100 people in the audience. I’m not sure what I was expecting of the show, but not a lot. I thought it would be a bit fun but nothing extraordinary. I was impressed! It truly takes a lot of talent and passion. The singers and dancers put so much emotion into the show, you can’t help but be impressed.

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This lady was a pro. I don’t understand how anyone can move their feet so fast.  
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Everyone in the group works together to put on a harmonious show. They’re constantly looking at each other to stay coordinated.

After the show we wandered around the area and then up to what locals call the “mushroom”. It’s a large modern sculpture that you can go up on and see views of the city. We didn’t choose to pay and go up, but it was cool to see from below. Sevillianos say that they don’t like it because it doesn’t match the city’s general “theme,” and I have to agree (although it is interesting).

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Afterwards, we were hungry again so we went back to the Santa Cruz neighborhood and tried another restaurant. We ordered tipical food from the city, including flamenquines (rolled ham and cheese, fried) and seafood salad.

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Flamenquines
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I loved this seafood salad so much that I recreated it at home. Pretty easy and tasty!

The rooftop bar definitely had some killer views, but the prices were astronomical. So we enjoyed the heck out of those drinks and the view and then got outta there!

The next morning, we parted ways as I went back to Madrid on the fast train and my aunt and uncle went to Barcelona to fly back home.

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Sevilla didn’t disappoint! It’s definitely got a lot of soul, friendly people, and history.

So what’s next? Right now my schedule is full of private English classes, but I’ve planned a trip up to Galicia (northern Spain) to visit a friend in about a week. Then, Barcelona in early August. And more travel to come, as I’m trying to do as much as possible.

 

 

 

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Dee says:

    Beautiful photos. I love the architecture!

    Like

    1. Thank you! One day I’ll make the effort to bring a better camera with me, but for now the camera phone is just so convenient!

      Like

  2. Laura Ambrose says:

    You put together such an amazing visual and written picture of each area, Heidi. I love reading your memoir here. Fantastico! (Would that be pronounced with a lisp?)

    We have wonderful memories of seeing Espana with you. It’s an amazing land with a rich culture, friendly people and lots of amazing sights. We highly recommend it!

    Like

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