Hot hot hot: Seville

The second stop in our Spanish adventure was Seville. While we thought we’d have our stuff stolen in Barcelona, our fear travelling to Seville was that we might die of heat. Apparently people actually leave Seville in July because it’s just too hot.

We arrived late on a Friday afternoon to 38 degrees, and didn’t get much relief until it cooled down a couple of days later. But we weren’t going to let the extreme heat ruin our sightseeing plans.

That evening, we wandered around and got a feel for Seville. Orange trees line its old, cobble-stone streets. It didn’t take us long to realise this gorgeous little city had quite a charm.

One such street – delightful.

Our hostel was only about 100 metres away from the Cathedral and the Alcazar. We began the next day by visiting the Alcazar, which served as a residence for Muslim and Christian royalty for many centuries. It was founded in 913 as a Muslim fortress, and has been adapted by Seville’s rulers many times since. As such, it encapsulates a whole range of architectural styles.

A courtyard in the Alcazar

There were many areas of this palace and its vast and beautiful gardens to explore. Most exquisite, in my opinion, was the Upper Palace. It oozed opulence. A group of about six of us had to be escorted around these rooms by two security guards. It’s still the official residence of the Royal Family in Seville, although they don’t actually live there.

Not far from the Alcazar is the Cathedral, which we visited that afternoon. It’s not just any cathedral that you walk into, have a quick look, and move on. It’s enormous – the third largest church in the world, and the largest gothic cathedral (according to Wikipedia…). There are an astounding 80 chapels within it, and it seems no expense was spared in decorating any single one of them. Notably, Christopher Columbus is buried in the Cathedral.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral was built on the site of Muslim Seville’s main mosque. The adjoining bell tower, La Giralda, was the mosque’s minaret and dates back to the 12th century. We climbed up it, and at the top we fought other tourists for amazing views of Seville.

A view from the tower of the Cathedral and city beyond it

Another thing Spain is known for is bull fighting. We weren’t game to go and see a fight, but we did visit a bull fighting ring in Seville. It was really cool. On the guided tour we were told all about the ‘sport’ and the traditions associated with it.

The bull fighting ring

A slightly less brutal Spanish tradition is that of Flamenco. That evening before dinner, we went to see a Flamenco show. It’s kind of like tap dancing, but more aggressive and with better outfits. There is also singing and musical instruments in the performance. I wouldn’t necessarily go again, but it was a little bit entertaining, and one of those things you just have to do.

The next morning we explored Barrio Santa Cruz, the old Jewish quarter. It’s an interesting area, although there are no visible remnants of Jewish life. From there, we walked along the river to a park, the main feature of which is Plaza Espana. An impressive semicircular building is decorated with colourful ceramic tiles while an atmospheric canal and an imposing fountain characterise the foreground.

Nat and Me at Plaza Espana

That afternoon we discovered the shopping area of Seville. Constantly reminding myself that I had no room to carry anything home (and limited funds) didn’t really help when ‘H & M’ was in close proximity and ‘Zara’ was having a sale.

We had kind of run out of things to do by our last day in Seville – it’s not a very big place. We visited the Flamenco museum, which was nice enough. Our last couple of hours we spent relaxing by the river, and popping in and out of souvenir shops. Before long it was time to head to the train station and catch our train to Granada.

And that will be the next post.

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