Coming to Seville is like seeing Spain on parade.
Tapas. Flamenco. Bullfighting. Art. Poetry. Pottery. Architecture. Style. History. Cervicitas!* It is all here – in splendour.
Seville , in the southern Spanish region called Andalusia , is what many people describe as “the most Spanish of all Spanish cities”. It was home to Carmen and Don Juan and boats grand plazas, sculptured gardens and flowerbox-filled balconies. Walking through Seville ’s impossibly narrow, cobblestone streets you can look up at any moment and gape at pink-turreted churches, ever-present, resplendent tiles, and hosts of other visual treats that are the legacy of both Moorish and Colonial architecture.
A city that closes down between the hours of 2 and 5 pm , it makes the perfect holiday destination. Why? Because in Seville , it is impossible to do anything for 3 hours everyday except relish in two of the living arts the Spanish have perfected: eating and enjoying life. If you stay long enough it will not be long until you hone the enjoying life art to the even finer art of taking an afternoon nap. (Ah, the siesta! A joy heinously ignored by the majority of the world).
WHERE TO STAY
‘ El centro ’, the historical centre of the city, is where the beer and tapas forever flow and where you will feel compelled to live half your life socialising in the street like all the immaculately dressed locals.
RESTAURANTS & BARS
Seville is tapas bar heaven. Here is a selection worth checking out:
Coloniales – famous for large, cheap tapas. Very popular spot, you might even meet someone!
La Alameda is the local word on the place to go for night life in this city. La Alameda is actually a small, tree-filled area which is full of bars and people. Any night of the week is a good night here. La Madrasa on Calle P Mencheta is the pick of places in this area for tapas.
FOOD MUST TRIES
You are in Spain , so repeat after me: 1) I am not afraid of oil, or anything (and everything) fried in it. 2) I will not get hungry for lunch before 2 or 3 pm , nor for dinner until 11pm . When you finally do get to eat, two fabulous factors are in your favour. One, the food is not expensive and two, the Spanish love food. Try the local, Sevillano specialties like mojama (dried tuna fish known as ham of the sea) and salmorejo (thick gazpacho). And, of course, the classic, Spanish Tortilla.
* Real Alcázar. This enchanting building was a fortress from the Muslim-era and later changed hands to become the home of Christian royalty for many centuries. Today the gardens, tapestries and varied architecture remain some of Seville ’s most appealing treasures.
* Plaza de España. A truly spectacular plaza, equal with any in the country. It was the centrepiece of the 1929 Spanish-Americas Fair and is an arc of tiled glory and historic handwork. Across the tree-lined road from the plaza is the enchanting Parque de María.
* A Flamenco Show. Seville is one of the legendary homes of flamenco. You can opt for a tourist-geared spectacular or a more intimate café setting. Recommended spectacular: El Tablao Flamenco Los Gallos.Recommended café: La Casa del Carmen
* Cathedral and the Giralda. The cathedral is the largest Gothic building in the world and the pride of Seville . The emblem of Seville is the Giralda, the weathercock that sits atop the Cathedral. You can climb the Giralda, which is in the form of a woman representing Faith, for spectacular city views.
* Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza Museum (Seville’s Bullring). This is one of the oldest bullrings in Spain . Check out the museum and definitely see a bullfight if possible.
* Museo de Bellas Artes ( Museum of Fine Art ) is categorised as a major worldscale museum and considered to house some of the greatest paintings in all of Spain .
In Seville , the spirit of Spain engulfs you. When I visited I felt naked without a flamenco frock on and pair of castanets in my hand. In this city, Spain ’s famous flavours are things very difficult to resist. And why on earth would you want to?
* Cervecita: a social little glass of beer taken either at lunch or at dinner, or, delightfully, at both.