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Plaza de España (Dec 2016).

Having just finished up an afternoon in Córdoba, our tour group left for the next city on our itinerary: Seville (or “Sevilla,” in Spanish). The capital of the Andalusia region, Seville is the fourth-largest city in Spain and is both a historical and metropolitan place in which the flamenco dance is claimed to have originated, along with having some of the best tapas around. That, and plenty of UNESO World Heritage Sites to call its own!

We left Córdoba in the late afternoon, arriving in Seville in the early evening where we simply checked into our hotel, had a complementary dinner as part of the organized tour, and relaxed for the rest of the night.

The following morning, we were up and out early; we met our local tour guide who first took us over to the Plaza de España, or the “Spain Square.” It is known for its 180-degree colonnade structure, blending both Renaissance and Moorish styles together to create an absolutely stunning sight to see…and of course, plenty of photos! The sun was bright that day, which gave the place a deep, golden glow which, in contrast with the multi-colored mosaics alongside the walls and bridges, made it one of the highlights during our time in Seville.

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Bridge in the Plaza de España.

Next, we walked over to Santa Cruz, aka “the Jewish Quarter” which, similar to the Arab Quarter in Córdoba, was a maze of narrow passageways, with each twist and turn leading us to a new plaza with small cafes and tourist shops, along with museums and plenty of scenic moments to capture with photos. Towards the end of our run, we passed by a small shop selling tea leaves “de Sevilla” outside and for me, being an avid tea drinker, I just had to stop and take a photo of it!

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Tea leaves in the Santa Cruz.

Eventually, we exited the Jewish Quarter, ending up right in front of the large Seville Cathedral where we ended our walking tour of the city. We were given the rest of the day to explore on our own, so my family and I decided to head right over to the cathedral to check out the inside, as well as climb the adjacent tower up to the top for city views (and you know how much I love views).

It was no surprise that there was a rather-long queue to enter the cathedral, but since we’d gotten there fairly early (11h00), it wasn’t too bad and after paying the admission fee, we entered the cathedral and spent some time going around the incredibly-vast interior, coming across Christopher Columbus’ tomb, with his *supposed* remains encased and held by four statues, of which are meant to represent the Spanish kingdoms (“supposed” because scientists are still doing research on it, to prove that, indeed, the remains are that of the famous fifteenth-century explorer). There was also a wall entirely decked out in gold, from floor to ceiling, which was awe-inspiring; certainly, the Spanish knew how to put their excess amount of gold from their conquests into good use, namely, in their cathedrals!

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Seville Cathedral.
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Christopher Columbus’ tomb.

After a short circuit in the cathedral, my family and I headed over to the Giralda, the bell tower adjacent to the cathedral from which we went up the 35 ramp flights (no stairs this time, because the bell tower used to be access via horses from the royal court back in the day. Much preferred that, actually, just because they’re less exhausting than stairs!) to the top. The views certainly didn’t disappoint, for the day was clear and sunny and the whole city of Seville was at our camera’s disposal.

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View of Seville from the cathedral.

We descended the tower and exited the cathedral. From there, we wandered behind it, in search of a tapas place for a casual lunch, since apparently, Seville is known for producing great tapas. We ended up in the Plaza del Cabildo, a small plaza with a small fountain and a modest colonnade that wasn’t bad to look at, and it was around there that we found a tapas place to sit down and eat. In the end, we ordered some “typical” Spanish plates, including tortillas españolas (Spanish potato-omelet, one of my favorites), fried anchovies, grilled vegetables, and pork cheek (yes, pork cheek!). My dad and I ordered beer and while I don’t especially like beer, the ones we had paired really well with the hearty, savory dishes, all the while being cheap!

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“Modest” colonnade in the Plaza del Cabildo.
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Tortillas españolas.
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Pork cheek.

Feeling full and satisfied, after lunch we went over to the Real Alcázar, the royal palace of Seville that is heavily influenced by Islamic architecture since it had been developed by Moorish kings during their reign, and today it serves as the royal family’s residence. Again, there was a queue, but it went pretty smoothly and once we went through security and paid the admission fee, we were ready to explore what the place had to offer.

Inside, the Real Alcázar’s ornate, intricately-designed interiors were just too pretty not to look at. There must’ve been about 50-plus different rooms to look at, but we just couldn’t get to them all without getting a bit lost in the process! I would say, though, the highlights of our visit included the Patio de las Doncellas (“Courtyard of the Maidens”), the Galeria de Grutescos (“Grotto Gallery”), and Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla (“Baths of Doña María de Padilla”). Blending architecture and nature together, it was a sort of paradise, in a way!

Patio de las Doncellas.
Patio de las Doncellas.
The Galeria de Grutescos.
The Galeria de Grutescos.
Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla.
Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla.

Soon after, we finished our visit in the Real Alcázar, heading west to explore more of the city. Along the way, we stopped by the Iglesia del Salvador, a church which was included in our ticket from the cathedral as a two-in-one kind of deal. We just popped in quickly, but even for it being “just a church,” its nave was towering and impressive…and again, decked out in gold!

Our final visit was to the Metropol Parasol, a distinctive-looking structure that had been built by a German architect back in the mid-to-late 2000’s and today houses a market and an Antiquarium, and it’s also used for public events within the city. It’s also commonly referred to as “Incarnación’s mushrooms,” which I have to admit is quite appropriately-named!

Metropol Parasol.
Metropol Parasol.

We were pretty much done with our visit in Seville, and we proceeded to head back to our hotel; along the way, we got some gelato (yes, even in the middle of winter!) before continuing with our thirty to forty-minute walk back. Arrived at our hotel, where we rested up for the remainder of the day until dinnertime, complementary again at the hotel restaurant. This time, my dad and I ordered what is called a “rebujito,” which is apparently a local cocktail made from sherry and soft drink. It was pretty tasty, and it had a taste very similar to mojitos, which I enjoy as well. We called it a night after dinner- tired, but satisfied with our time in the Andalusian capital.

Seville turned out to be one of my favorite big cities to have visited while in Spain- granted, I hadn’t known much about this city beforehand, although I was aware that it was a popular destination. Now, having spent the day there, I was very impressed with all there was to see, from the stunning Plaza de España to the city views of the cathedral to the Real Alcázar. Plus, the weather was nice, the food was delicious, and overall, a fulfilling experience.

Next up on my travels: Ronda & Marbella, Spain!

 

— Rebecca

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