Seville = LOVE! This was the highlight of our trip. The weather was beautiful, our Airbnb apartment was new and clean and in a great area of town, and Seville was so charming!"Campana Apart.14 Monumental center" airbnb apartment was 69 a night - worth every penny.
Hands down, my favorite building in Seville, and probably in Spain. Maybe even in Europe!
A little about Seville: Flamboyant Seville thrums with flamenco music, sizzles in the summer heat, and pulses with the passion of Don Juan and Carmen. It's a place where bullfighting is still politically correct and little girls still dream of growing up to be flamenco dancers. While Granada has the great Alhambra and Córdoba has the remarkable Mezquita, Seville has a soul. It's a wonderful-to-be-alive kind of place. The gateway to the New World in the 16th century, Seville boomed when Spain did. The explorers Amerigo Vespucci and Ferdinand Magellan sailed from its great river harbor discovering new trade routes and abundant sources of gold, silver, cocoa, and tobacco. In the 17th century Seville was Spain's largest and wealthiest city. Local artists Diego Velázquez, Bartolomé Murillo, and Francisco Zurbarán made it a cultural center. Seville's golden age - and its New World riches - ended when the harbor silted up and the Spanish empire crumbled. Today it's Spain's fourth largest city and Andalucía's leading destination. James Michner wrote, "Seville doesn't have ambiance, it is ambiance." We couldn't agree more.
We walked along the river bank.
Since we had already toured Ronda's bullring and museum, we didn't go in, content to just admire it from the outside. It's definitely fancier and bigger than Ronda's, but we'll trust Rick Steves' advice that the museum isn't as good here.
The Seville cathedral is the third-largest church in Europe (after St. Peter's in the Vatican and St. Paul's in London) and the largest Gothic church anywhere. When they ripped down a brick mosque in this site in 1401 the Reconquistas bragged, "We'll build a cathedral so huge that anyone who sees it will take us for madmen." They built for 120 years. Even today the descendants of those madmen proudly display an enlarged photocopy of their Guinness Book of World Recods letter certifying, "Santa Maria de la Sede is Sevilla is the cathedral with the largest area: 126.18m x 82.60m x 30.48m high."
The bell tower, formerly a Moorish minaret. In 1356 the original top of the tower fell. What is there now was built by the Christians in the 16th century. It features a ribbon of letters saying, "The strongest tower is the name of God." | The interior of the church.
The choir featuring an organ of 7,000 pipes. A choir area like this, an enclosure within a cathedral for more intimate services, is common in Spain and England but rare in churches elsewhere.
Then holy moly, this blew my socks off. Take a look at the High Altar! I wish there was somewhere to show you the scale of this thing because it was beyond huge. It's thought to be the largest altarpiece ever made, standing 65 feet tall with 44 scenes from the life of Christ carved from walnut and chestnut then blanketed with a staggering amount of gold-leaf. The work took three-generations to complete, spanning the years from 1481-1564. One of the most impressive things I've seen in a church anywhere.
Then of course we had to get a family photo in it. Fox loved it.
Columbus traveled a lot, even posthumously. He was buried first in Spain, then in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, then Cuba, and finally - when Cuba gained independence from Spain around 1900 - he sailed home to Seville. Are the remains actually his? When they commemorated the 500th anniversary of his death they took DNA samples and got the evidence they needed to substantiate their claim. It has been so cool to be in the presence of all these incredible figures from history: Columbus, Napoleon, Raphael, and more.
Admission to the church includes entry to the bell tower. Even if it didn't, I would have paid the extra because I love me some views, just ask Chris who has spent countless hours watching the kids as I've trudged up cramped, steep, claustrophobic, and never-ending towers to get the best vantage point.
Back down on the ground we walked out into the Court of the Orange Trees. Now the cloister, it was once the mosque's Patio de los Naranjos where 12th century Muslims would stop at the fountain in the middle to wash their hands, face, and feet before praying. The ankle-breaking lanes were once irrigation streams. This courtyard and the tower are the only remnants of the mosque.
The Courtyard of the Hunt. Pedro I built the most famous parts of the complex but during Spain's Golden Age Ferdinand and Isabel lived here and left their mark as did their grandson Charles V. Successive monarchs added still more luxury and today's king and queen still use the palace's upper floor as one of their royal residences.
This palace is considered Spain's best example of the Mudejar style.
Lots more lovely details.
Under the canopy is a gazebo for performances and in the concrete structure below is a food market and a museum displaying Roman ruins found during the excavation of the site. The canopy, known as the Metropol Parasol, was designed by German architect Jürgen Mayer H., who won a contest to create a new iconic structure for Seville. The dynamic vaulting is intended to echo the interior of Seville's vast cathedral. The wooden structure, unbelievably, is held together with glue. And - as you might guess for a cutting-edge architectural work with a heft price tag - it has been controversial. The structure has yet to win over the hearts of most Sevillians.
For dinner we decided to try a Spanish burger chain that was literally steps from the door to our apartment. I told you it was a good location :) The Good Burger. Let me tell you, the name fits. It was a good burger. On this trip I've had the two best burgers I've had our whole time in Europe: the burger I got from the cafe in Gibraltar and this one. Chris was equally enthusiastic about his and the fries were mwah! When we come back to Madrid for a trip, we're gonna find this place again.
One thing we don't get to see very often is the places we visit a night. By 6 it is dinner time, bath time, and bed time for our long-suffering kiddos. But, we loved Seville so much and were just charmed by the city we went out for a evening stroll - bed time be darned! Our main destination? My favorite building of course!
The next morning we headed to Córdoba, Spain! Coming soon to a blog near you.