Spain Part IV: Seville
Happy Thanksgiving week everyone! It's about time I finish up the Spain posts. Lotssssss of pictures from Seville so let's dig in. Seville is much larger than Avila or Toledo and we walked a ton over our three day stay. We saw and ate quite a bit. Here are three highlights and some recommendations:
1. La Giralda & Cathedral
Climbing to the top of the Giralda Tower gives you fabulous views of the city. Some believe La Giralda to be Spain's most perfect Islamic building. It was the minaret of the old mosque that used to stand on this site and is in excellent condition. The bells and everything above them were added in the 16th century, but the rest of the tower dates to the 12th century. This is one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Seville and definitely worth your time. No need to book in advance or pay for special access to the tower. It's included in your Cathedral ticket.
The Cathedral is gorgeous inside and out and the complex is a really interesting mishmash of Islamic relics and Spanish Gothic style. Above, you can see the Patio de los Naranjos with more than 60 Sevillan orange trees surrounded by fortress-like walls of the old mosque. Speaking of orange trees, they were everywhere in Seville. Every street. Every park. Turns out you don't eat them. They're used for their aromatics.
Back to the Cathedral: the interior contains Christopher Columbus' tomb. His body may or may not be in the tomb, depending who you ask. Some believe it's actually in the Dominican Republic. ...Details...
2. Alcázar de Seville
This is also one of Seville's UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We must have spent four hours wandering through the buildings and gardens of this royal palace. It was originally built as a fort in 913. CRAZY. Since then it has been expanded and renovated by various rulers and fancy people. The Alcazar is next to the Cathedral and Giralda and definitely worth the entrance fee. Everything I read said to book your ticket in advance, but the website is one of the most horrific I've ever encountered, and so I gave up. Turns out, for a visit in mid-October, there is absolutely no reason to go through this rigamarole.
The intricate plaster and woodwork, beautiful ceramic decorations, bright colors, and varying architecture made this one of the most incredible places we visited in Spain. It was so different from anything I'd seen before.
3. Plaza de España
This was seriously cool, though not exactly old. The semicircular plaza was built in the late 1920s. Beautifully tiled bridges span a curving pond and tiled alcoves representing the provinces of Spain line the exterior ground floor of the building. Scenes from a Star Wars movie were filmed here (horrrrrrible acting in that video) so there's that.
- Our free walking tour was a bit below average. I'd recommend skipping it.
- Seville bike rental system doesn't sell 24 hour passes like in most cities. Minimum rental period was for a week. Even if the price was more reasonable, most docking stations only had 1 bike, if any, so this didn't pan out as we expected.
- City buses are cheap, efficient, and easy to use if you are acquainted with Google Maps' public transport feature.
- There are a few large and beautiful parks with amazing trees. Nice when you need a bit of shade or a few minutes away from the busy city.
- We had some really good food here. Presentation was sometimes a bit odd but overall everything was delicious. I tried a bull's tail because that's a thing, apparently, and though it looked horrifying, it was amazing. Highly recommend.
- We stayed in the Triana neighborhood known for their working ceramic studios. Gorgeous ceramics!! And the whole setup was much more authentic than what we've seen in Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, and others. The prices were more reasonable, too.