After a 4.30 alarm, a bit of an argument with a taxi driver, a fairly dry sandwich in the hotel’s packed breakfast, huge airport queues then a 7 a.m. flight, my excitement at being able to fly directly to Seville (Sevilla) from Bristol was a bit diminished. But our flight left on time and arrived into Seville early. This was the start of nearly three weeks in Andalucía, the southern part of Spain. A taxi took us close to our Airbnb in the Santa Cruz neighbourhood and we walked the last bit. As we walked through the heavy wooden door, we were immediately delighted with our choice.
It was not our usual style where we have the entire place. In a happy accident, I forgot to use that filter and found this lovely place, more like a small hotel, with only three rooms. The little pool was a factor in our choice and it was a perfect place for the included breakfast or for a pre-dinner drink. We had access to a large fridge and kitchen though we only used it for chilling wine and borrowing glasses. In our four nights in Seville with two events prebooked. The Alcázar, including the Royal Apartments (Cuarto Real), and train tickets for a day trip to Córdoba. The first day we wandered around the Santa Cruz neighbourhood with its narrow streets, no cars, little squares with orange trees, great atmosphere and multiple restaurants. The temperature was perfect – in the high 20s.
The Alcázar was stunning. A Royal Palace in the style of the Alhambra in Granada, it combines Moorish and Christian architecture. We had booked ahead for the Royal Apartments and we highly recommend this and prebooking general admission. (Website here:https://realalcazarsevilla.sacatuentrada.es/en I had to try a couple of credit cards before one worked, so persevere).
The tour of the apartments was a bit of a circus! We had to read the rules and agree to them, then we were told MANY times not to press any buttons on the audio guide until they said. Finally they scanned our bags and we had to leave everything in a locker, so not photos in there. Luckily it was worth it after all that. Lavish rooms, including a huge dining room, amazing floors, huge paintings and a definite feeling of wealth. The Spanish Royal family still stays here when they are in town. It was over in about half an hour, but the rest of the building and the gardens were beautiful and we spent more than three hours there.
We loved the Moorish style buildings, baths and courtyards. We were able to get up on the old wall for a great view and managed to get away from some of the crowds in parts of the garden.
The Archives of the Indies was another amazing building in central Seville. It contains all sorts of letters, including some from Columbus who set off from near here. Despite being inland, Seville was a port (as was Bristol, our previous city). The building was free to enter and was worth seeing for its magnificent staircase as well as its contents.
We knew of some operas set in Seville but were surprised to read that more than 100 had been. We enjoyed seeing the Tobacco Factory where Carmen was meant to have worked, Plaza Dona Elvira (Don Giovanni/Don Juan) and Rosina’s Balcony from the Marriage of Figaro.
Plaza de España was built for the 1929 World’s Fair. Its large semi circular Art Deco style building contains tiled alcoves representing every province of Spain and its geography and history. There are four bridges and two towers.
After a good look around, we went to the lovely Parque de Maria Luisa next door. There were formal and informal parts, with ponds, fountains and bougainvillea.
We tried several times to visit the Cathedral but it was closed for religious festivals so we had to be content with the Giralda (Bell Tower). It had no stairs, just 34 ramps to the top, apparently so horses or donkeys could be ridden up there in its former life as a Minaret. It definitely made the climb easier and the levels were labelled so we knew when we were getting close to the top. There was a great view of Seville and the Patio of Oranges below.
A day trip to Córdoba was another highlight, but deserves a separate post. After that we were off into the mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema.