From Seville began our tour. A voyage that I dreamed of for months and I still reminisce a lot.
It was a special trip mainly for 3 reasons: a) in all the cities that we stayed (except Lisbon) we had free accommodation, cause 3 of our friends were in the Iberian Peninsula for their Erasmus studies we were playing safe in Seville, Barcelona and Porto, b) the fact that we were staying with friends meant that we would mingle with their Spanish friends too, which minimized the touristic sightseeing and opened us a window to the life of the people there. Which in my opinion is the only real way to feel a city's vibe, c) we visited the coolest cities, so the tour's perfection was obvious from the beginning.
From now on, try to organize voyages that tick all the a-b-c above and you won't be disappointed.
But, let's start our travelogue of Seville now. Did we forget anything? Hmm no, Here we go then.
Part 1: Introduction
We'll start with some monuments- musts to see, we will continue with some great ares for walking and bicycling around the city and we will end with some (great) places to eat. However, all these won't be enough to convey to you the Seville's feeling. The kindness of its inhabitants (there is no correlation to the ungracious people from Barcelona), the strong influence from the North African and Muslim art and the revelation that the thermometer in the summer conveniently reaches the 45°C and forgets to drop are stuck in my mind for this city.
Part 2: Places to see
We said that this trip was the less touristy one that I have ever done abroad, so I will suggest you the key attractions to see if you want a basic and full idea of he city. You won't even think of getting tired, believe me.
- Alcázar Palace of Seville: The ticket is 2 euros if you're under 25 and EU citizen, so that's a good deal. Let aside that this is an amazing palace too. The truth is that generally I get tired of vast palaces, there isn't anything more boring than walking around beautiful, empty rooms. Anything people. But this palace had something exotic with the influences from the Muslim art, the arabesques on domes and on every arch and with such variety of different tiles on the walls of each room. Moreover, the tapestries on the walls of the rooms were really unique.
- Seville's Cathedral: It's the largest Gothic cathedral and the third largest in Europe in general. This giant building doesn't just house a gigantic church. Since the beginning of the 15th century (when its construction started) until the 19th century the building went through numerous disasters and renovations and today we see the different wings that were built in each centuries depending on the Seville's administration in that period of time. The city passed from the Muslims to the Catholics and they all left their mark.
We were lucky enough to have a art conservator as our guide (you have to deal with your friends' friends in such trips, I told you), who revealed us all the dirty history's secrets in the most entertaining way. Certainly without her the possibility of acknowledging the building's value would be a zero one. Something that was really interesting was that each temple had the stamp of the era in which it was constructed, which gave as visual representation of the artistic currents of Seville from the 15th century until today. Plus, you'll see the biggest organ that has ever existed. Too bad we didn't have the opportunity to hear it too, it would be riveting.
Also, you'll see a statue of four men carrying (or not) the Columbus's bones. Well, that's what they say to the tourists, but the truth is that because of a disastrous flood somewhere in the 19th century the bones from all the graves in the cathedral were tangled. The monks of that era, places in the "Columbus's grave" bones of (around) 100 people as the latest DNA analysis showed. Ohh intrigue. Don't forget to look for the great Goya's piece of art with the 2 saints "Justa and Rufina" and for the huge "container" for storing wafers made entirely from the bloodstained silver from the South America.
- Giralda Tower: It is the tower of the Cathedral and I will definitely recommend you to go to the top of it. There are only 33 floors of twirled runway that separate you from a wildly spectacular 360 degree view of the city. Why there aren't stairs, but a twisting twirled runway you may ask, right? Because the king wanted to go on the tower's top and stare at his magnificent city on his own horse's saddle, that's way. Why walk when you are the king? The royal families are completely and entirely nuts. But somehow this weirdness turn out to be people with disabilities-friendly. So, let's say that everyone was, is and will be content.
The views from the tower, however, is magnificent. In front of the Cathedral Square starts the Alcázar palace and behind it extend the place's gardens (and what gardens, gosh, I will dedicate them a whole part 3) and on the horizon you can distinguish the two towers that flank my all-time-favorite Plaza de España .
- Plaza de España: Have ever happened to you to love a landmark, wanting to take its pictures from every possible angle and visiting just to see it when you are around? Well, this square had this exact effect on us.
We visited it 3 times in 3 days and in the 2 of them we where cycling (Seville is super bike-friendly, we will talk about this in part 3 as well) as fastest as possible around the big fountain (in its center) with smiles up to our ears.
A semicircular square surrounded by an artificial stream (they rented boats to tourists, who were struggling to paddle in a 3x3 space, hilarious to watch), with the huge fountain dominating its center and two tower guards on its edges.
The perfect square.
- Metropol Parasol: The huge wooden structure resembles a giant mushroom, or "Las setas" in Spanish. I realized half of the people love it and half of them hate it. However, I found it just so harmonious with the area, as it was always there. Also, it's so photogenic from every angle and in the night it's so well illuminated that its designed emerges even more.
So that's it. Expect in the next days the parts 3 & 4 with my tips about perfect regions for walking/ cycling around the city, Seville's bestest parks and places for a drink or (very, very good) food. If you have visited Seville and have anything to suggest please do in the comments below, as I will definitely return this city soon ;)