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davidx Sevilla - A travel report by David
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Sevilla,  Spain - flag Spain
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davidx's travel reports

Splendid Sevilla

  17 votes
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Even though Córdoba is my favourite Andalucian city, I am bound to admit that Sevilla is the grandest. Looking at the river Guadalquivir it is so easy to imagine sailing ships returning from the Spanish colonies with cargoes of precious metals.


From the Giralda
From the Giralda
Even at the remote station of Gaucin in Cadiz Province, I should have been taking my life in my hands if I had dared express any support for Real Madrid, who were to be seen playing Sevilla on the TV. THEIR capital is Sevilla. There are a number of mustsee sites in Sevilla, which I’ll come to, but they shouldn’t be allowed to take too much time away from walking around and, when you ever get out of sight of the Giralda, probably getting lost. Don’t ask where you are too readily, or you will be escorted to the nearest corner by a grinning resident, who will point to the Giralda – and will you feel a fool! I speak from experience. The Renfe station and the two bus stations are all some distance apart but there are notices at each about which local bus to take to the others. Allow half an hour for changing and you should be OK. In December a river trip didn’t appeal massively but at most seasons I’m sure it’s almost a must. Other than that the specific sites that have to be seen are the Alcázar, the Cathedral and the Giralda. Personally I found the Plaza de España’s monumental buildings far and away better than I’d expected and I should add them to the list. Then you would feel a bit stupid if you went home without seeing the tobacco factory made famous by Carmen. You would have to try hard to avoid seeing it anyway so it’s hardly an extra. I’m sorry I didn’t go into the so-called Pilate’s House, so named because it’s supposed to resemble the house where Pontius Pilate lived in Jerusalem. It’s actually a copy of Italian Renaissance buildings – but it does look good. The best way of getting to Sevilla from Málaga is almost certainly by bus at most times of day, though you may just find you are lucky with the train. In spite of the almost perpetual queries on some websites, there is a daytime bus through the lovely Sierra de Aracena [see my Huelva report] to Lisbon provided by Damas. [http://www.damas-sa-.es/buscar.htm]

Favourite spots:
In the Giralda
In the Giralda
My favourite is the Giralda. I shall say favourable things about the Cathedral and other places – but the Giralda is unique. I first saw it from outside at 12.00 on a Sunday and had no idea that the bells were about to ring. It’s colossal! The Giralda actually serves as the bell tower of the Cathedral but it’s a separate building. Although there is some Gothic ornamentation high up, it is essentially a Moorish minaret so good that it served as a model for some important buildings in Morocco. It’s one of the few places of its height that I could still hope to ascend now without a lift as it has 35 walkways with a very gentle slope taking you up among the bells and to a superb view of Cathedral, city and district. http://www.andalu cia.com/cities/sevil-le/giralda.htm [no gaps]

What's really great:
Alcázar Gardens
Alcázar Gardens
I don’t think the Alcázar quite rates with Córdoba’s Mesquita or Granada’s Alhambra but it’s quite reminiscent at times.. Before going inside I pause for a mention of the gardens with their view of the Giralda beyond. There’s something quite ethereal about it. However don’t have your picnic there, if you have the faintest aversion to cats. It would be like going in the serpent house at the zoo, unable to stand the sight of snakes. So in we go and here’s the shock – I didn’t know when I went! The building was indeed made by Moorish builders [mainly anyway] but not for a Moorish Sultan as the Alhambra was. The monarch for whom it was built was Pedro the Cruel, a 14th century Christian monarch. Some parts of earlier Moorish buildings may have survived but you will find sometimes Mudejar architecture is mixed with European in the same room, surprisingly successfully at times. http://www.andalu cia.com/cities/sevil-le/alcazar.htm

Sights:
Mixed architecture in the Alcázar
Mixed architecture in the Alcázar
The Cathedral is so big that the expectation has to be that it will be brash and tasteless but this is far from being the case. It was intended to be spectacular in its size, and it is, but the perfect proportions mean that it is also deeply impressive.
http://www.sevilla5.com/mo numents/cathedral.html

The Plaza de España came as a complete surprise. Monumental architecture for an exhibition in 1929 sounds calculated to have me running a mile. In fact it was congenial enough to make us sit down for our picnic. Within the arcades [see http://www.travelin ginspain.com/sevilla/espana.htm (no gaps)] are wall panels representing each former Spanish colony in the Americas.

Accommodations:
Near our hotel, Barrio Santa Cruz
Near our hotel, Barrio Santa Cruz
I can tell you four things about the place where we stayed. It was in the Barrio Santa Cruz, the rooms were off an upstairs balcony surrounding an internal courtyard, rooms were considerably cheaper in December than the notice in the room stated and they got their map wrong. The last provided a valid extra reason for getting lost! There are any number of places to say in this old Jewish area.
I gather that accommodation during Holy Week is a major problem and then you might do better to try nearby Carmona, only a cheap and quick local bus ride away.

Other recommendations:
Alcázar, detail
Alcázar, detail
I’m sure there’s plenty I missed in Sevilla and I want to go again but here I concentrate on trips out. The closest are Carmona and Italica. I haven’t been to Italica but I believe its Roman remains, in particular mosaics, are of high quality. Carmona is a delightful small town with an old part, gated, at the top of a hill. From beside the Parador at the very top, you can look out from the old walls at kestrels circling a nearby crag.
Northwest of the city it’s not more than a couple of hours by bus [Damas] to the Sierra de Aracena.
Southeast is the well reputed city of Osuna, another possible alternative place to stay but one I’ve not visited.


Published on Wednesday February 16th, 2005


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Sat, Feb 19 2005 - 12:36 PM rating by sapphireeyes27

I just came back from living in Sevilla for a semester! It's the most amazing place ever. You really did a good job on the report! I'd love to chat with you sometime!

Thu, Feb 17 2005 - 02:50 PM rating by magsalex

Another great report!

Thu, Feb 17 2005 - 12:17 PM rating by hieronyma

Hi,
seems that I have to go there.
Hieronyma

Thu, Feb 17 2005 - 01:57 AM rating by picasso

David,i have to catch up with your wonderful and interesting as always writing
Perfect report,very good read-*****

Boris

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