My recent Spanish visit inspired by Rick Stein began and ended in Seville.
Seville is a city with something of a split-personality. It’s a giant mish-mash of Moorish, baroque and gothic architecture with a dash of the ultra-modern thrown in there for good measure. Simply put, it’s stunning. It’s an incredibly walkable city typified by the small windy streets that sporadically open out on to beautiful plazas. Walking is definitely the best way to get a true sense of Seville’s soul.
There’s a church on every corner. And colourful mosaics and tiles, the detailing on the buildings is something else. Even the undersides of the balconies are adorned with beautiful painted tiles.
Seville’s Old Town is the third largest in Europe and contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
My globe-trotting friend and I had two nights at the Hotel Fontecruz Sevilla Seises. It was ten minutes by taxi from the station down the narrowest of streets that no serious motorist would dare to drive.
The hotel was right in the city, on the edge of the Jewish quarter, about a 5-minute walk from the Cathedral. The hotel, once an archbishops’ palace is now very stylish but quirky, complete with a rooftop outdoor swimming pool and amazing rooftop views over this sparkling city.
The whole of Seville was walkable from here making this an ideal location for sightseeing!
With only a day and a half we managed to squeeze visits to these most memorable of places.
The Reales Alcázar is a perfect example of this mish-mash of architecture and is quite incredible.
The historical home of Spain’s royal family, this place is a total wonder and the oldest palace in Europe still in use.
The carved ceilings, glass-ceilinged atriums and rooms tiled from top-to-bottom in amazing colours was just the beginning of a seemingly endless, beautiful journey.
Just as you think you’ve reached the peak, you go round a corner and find even more amazingness. I want to go back again and will still be blown away…
Recognised as the third-largest cathedral in the world by volume, Seville Cathedral is the first building you notice when you get to the city centre.
This is partly due to the queue of people waiting to enter, but also because of the mix of architectural styles.
Much of the main church follows the Gothic tradition, although Giralda Tower used to belong to a different building entirely – a mosque, in fact – which stood here during the Moorish rule of the city.
Words can’t really describe the awe-inspiring atmosphere inside the Cathedral but, needless to say, it left me dumbfounded, open-mouthed and staring gormlessly up at the ceiling. It’s one of those places that no photograph could ever do justice to and simply must be seen in the flesh.
No, not as a second breakfast. These mushrooms are artificial – and are an unintended likeness, for that matter.
While most of the places we visited were historical, the Metropol Parasol is on the opposite side of the spectrum. Looking like something out of a space film, the structure dominates La Encarnacion Square.
Completed in 2011 and allegedly the biggest wooden structure in the world, there is access both to the rooftop walkways for views over the city, or down to the lowest floor, which is a museum housing Roman artefacts found during construction. We arrived too early for a visit!!
It’s said that Jurgen Mayer-Hermann’s original design was inspired by the vaults within the city’s cathedral, as well as trees – NOT by mushrooms, despite what the locals might say!
Food Glorious Food
Where to even start? Oh yes, of course, TAPAS! I really think everyone could learn a thing or two from the Spanish about eating.
Why choose one thing from a menu when you can have all of it in delectable mini portions? Fried baby squids, cold meats, croquettes, the best goats’ cheese ever – the list goes on and on. Needless to say I definitely returned with my clothes feeling a little tighter – totally worth it! In general, I found the food to be better in restaurants that weren’t near the big tourist attractions. It’s definitely worth doing some research.
My culinary highlight was this shop selling all food and drink local to Seville, Maestro Marcelino.
One startlingly refreshing thing about Seville is that they really don’t speak a lot of English. I definitely got the sense we were seeing the real Spain and not another sterile European destination where the locals speak better English than what I do.
There’s a huge amount to do in Seville but it’s worth going just for a wander round the streets to witness the amazing architecture and enjoy wonderful food and drink at great value.
On the flight back to UK, I convinced myself that my get up and go has definitely got going……now where should I go next??