Finally in Andalusia
My first impressions of Seville? So warm, so inviting and oh-so pretty! I arrived at 3 o’clock in a morning following a long day at work and few hours at Barcelona’s El Prat airport due to a delayed flight. When I finally reached my destination, the excitement took over and I was not tired any more. The surroundings were pleasant and a bit familiar as little squares with kiosks reminded me of Lisbon. Soon I was about to find out though that Seville does not only have the looks.. It also has the charisma and character and the Holy Week was certainly one of the occasions to experience it in full force in this part of Spain.
The Cathedral of Seville together with the Giralda, its bell tower are the symbols of the city. Situated in the heart of the Old Town, the Cathedral is the third largest church in the world and a burial site of Christopher Columbus. I think that even without the Semana Santa processions I would still find it overwhelming. The Giralda is actually a former minaret of the mosque that stood on the site under Muslim rule. It was built to resemble the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh. After the Reconquista it was converted into the bell tower that these days when in use, is a spectacle in itself.
The Moorish Heritage
The Real Alcázar is a popular tourist attraction in Seville and rightly so as it is a stunning royal palace that was originally a Moorish fort. Except the rooms and courtyards beautifully decorated with plasterwork and tiles there are also grand gardens offering a chance to rest in a shadow on one of the benches with colourful azulejos. It is worth reserving a couple of hours for the Alcázar to take in the heritage and history of this place without any rush.
Renaissance Revival with a Moorish twist
Visiting Plaza de España was one of my highlights in Seville. It is located in a beautiful María Luisa Park perfect for cooling from a scorching sun. The plaza was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Due to its Moorish fairy tale looks it has been used as a filming location in “Lawrence of Arabia” and in the Star Wars series. It is the home to about half a mile of tiled fountains, pavilions, ponds, benches and lush plants. Simply incredible!
Around the Old Town
On my second day in the city I decided to wander around and explore the areas that are not necessarily in the heart of the Old Town. I found some very charming spots away from people, Holy Week’s processions and all the noise.
Hoping that I can enjoy a quiet moment to take some photographs under the Triana Bridge was just a wishful thinking! I stood there in awe for a minute after a guy jumped off the bridged and splashed into water in front of my eyes. Well, I was not expecting that at all! In the end he casually got out of the river and climbed back to the riverfront. Is that a tradition in Seville or did he feel a bit hot? Wow, that is really beyond me.
At some point of my trip around Andalusia I heard this popular saying: Quien no ha visto Sevilla, no ha visto maravilla. Who has not seen Seville, has not seen the marvel. Yes, there is something to it and I am tempted to go back. Maybe next time I should venture out there during the Seville Fair in April?
La Banda Hostel
I was warned about booking my accommodation in advance. Semana Santa and Easter are extremely busy times in Seville so I was happy get a place at a wonderful and conveniently located, La Banda Rooftop Hostel. Friendly vibes, arty feel and amazing rooftop with fantastic company and views all contributed towards a very memorable experience.
The hostel is modern, stylish and fairly spacious. I also heard that there are new developements and changes coming up. Exciting news indeed but to me it is all about the people as they make this place truly special. La Banda guys – you rock!