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Published: April 25th 2017
We arrived in Sevilla 45 minutes after we departed the train station in Cordoba. From the train station it was about a half hour walk to our AirBNB in the centre of the shopping district of Sevilla. Our first impression of Sevilla wasn't great as the area around the train station is a bit average looking, however as we got closer to our AirBNB things started to improve.
Seville was founded by the Romans approximately 2,200 years ago. After the Romans came the Vandals, Suebi and Visigoths. It was taken by the Moors in 712 and remained under their control until it was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile and Leon in 1247. The Spanish Inquisition held it's first tribunal in Seville in 1478. After the discovery of the New World by Christopher Colombus in 1492 all goods from the Americas were brought through the ports of Seville. This contributed to Seville becoming an incredibly rich city until a new port was established in Cadiz. After this time the population, wealth and influence of the city decreased (helped along by the Great Plague of Seville in 1649). Seville fell to Franco quite early on in the Spanish civil war
so remained fairly isolated from the world between 1936 to the 1970's. More recently things have started to improve, largely due to tourism.
Once we had settled into our AirBNB we set out for the favourite restaurant of our AirBNB host. It also turned out to be a highly rated restaurant on TripAdvisor, so we planned to get there early (7:40 pm) so we wouldn't miss out on a table. There was already a line by the time we arrived..
The restaurant filled quickly once it opened at 8:00 pm; we grabbed one of the last few spots at the bar, ordered some drinks and selected a few tapas. We ordered risotto with idiazabal cheese and mushrooms, chicken salad, chicken breast with polenta and mushrooms and grilled octopus with vegetables. After we had finished those dishes we ordered some gorgonzola and walnut croquettes. The food was absolutely delicious, definitely the best we'd had so far.
The following morning we joined another free walking tour. We met up with the group in Plaza Virgen de los Reyes in front of Seville Cathedral. After being given an overview of the history of the city our focus turned to the
Seville Cathedral is the third largest church in the world. It began it's life as a mosque, but was converted to a church after the city was reconquered by the Christians and after earthquakes destroyed much of the mosque structure. Construction of the Cathedral began in earnest in about 1401 and was completed in 1575, though other more 'modern' touches were added by various royals since then.
Our guide explained the various architectural attributes, including the Door of Forgiveness which people which is named because people who had been found guilty by the Inquisition could pass through the door to confess their sins and would then have their neck broken before being burned (the alternative was being burned alive) and the Giralda tower which is now a bell tower but was previously the minaret of the mosque.
After the Cathedral we turned our attention to the building of the Archivo de Indias which displays records from the Spanish Empire. The Archivo de Indias is housed in the trade hall which was built to prevent merchants selling their wares inside the Cathedral grounds (apparently the archbishop wasn't too thrilled about this).
From the Archivo de
Indias we walked to the Alfonso XIII hotel which was built as a luxury hotel for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Unfortunately attendance at the Exposition was pretty poor due to the crash of wall street not long before it was due to open.
From the front of the hotel we could also see the Torre del Oro which was erected as a military watch tower Almoravid Caliphat in around 1220. Since that time it has had various functions including as a prison.
From Alfonso XIII hotel we walked to the University of Seville. The university buildings were once hole to the Real Fabrica De Tabacos De Sevilla (Royal Tobacco Factory) which was established to try and bring some money back to Seville after the main port for ships returning from the New World was moved to Cadiz.
We walked through the university buildings and on to the Seville pavilion from the Ibero-American Exposition which is one of two pavilions which remain from the exposition. We then walked through the gardens of Parque de Maria Luisa which were donated to the city by Infanta Luisa Fernanda, Duchess of Montpensier, who was the sister of the Queen of
Spain Mercedes de Orleans. Our tour finished in front of the Plaza de España which was the Spanish Pavilion of the Ibero-American Exposition.
After the tour we joined the queue for tickets to the Seville Cathedral. We reached the front of the queue after about a 20 minute wait. The inside of the Cathedral was very impressive as one would expect from such a large church. Christopher Colombus' remains (well about 300 grams of them) are interred in a large tomb within the cathedral. He was buried in about 4 other locations (Valladolid, Sevilla, Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, Havana in Cuba) prior to being moved to the Cathedral. Prior to leaving the Cathedral we climbed the ramps of the 104.1m tall Giralda Tower to admire the fantastic views over the city.
From the Cathedral we went to the Museo de Baile Flamenco (Flamenco dance museum) to purchase tickets for the flamenco show the following night. We then headed back to our AirBNB to have some lunch (chicken baguettes) and relax.
That night for dinner we went to another highly rated tapas restaurant. We ordered manchego cheese, zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta, chicken with cous cous,
red rice, cheese and spinach croquettes and slow cooked pork cheek with potato. The food was delicious but not quite as good as the previous night.
After dinner we headed to Plaza de España to take some photos at sunset. The sunset wasn't that great but the building did look slightly more red than when we were there in the middle of the day. After Plaza de España we headed back to our AirBNB.
I had arranged tickets for the following day for the Real Alcazar (Royal Alcazar) including the Cuarto Real Alto (Royal quarter) so we headed there first thing on our final morning in Seville. We joined the queue for pre-booked tickets and entered the Alcazar as soon as it opened.
The Real Alcazar is the royal palace in Seville. It was originally constructed by the Moorish kings however has been added to and renovated over time. The palace is still in use by the Spanish Royal family; one of the princesses recently held her wedding dinner in the Cuarto Real Alto.
Once inside we went straight to the Cuarto Real Alto to start our tour (the only option for this part of the
Alcazar). We were handed our audio guides, put our bag and camera in a locker (no photos allowed unfortunately) and were then escorted into the Cuarto Real Alto by a security guard who seemed to think he was pretty important.
The Cuarto Real Alto was interesting however the audio tour didn't leave much time for admiring the decor in our own time. It discussed a lot of the paintings, tapestries and furniture as well as some aspects of the architecture and interior design. The rooms didn't seem very nice to actually live in as they were dark and the furniture didn't look particularly comfortable but the views over the other parts of the Alcazar, including the gardens, were lovely.
After our audio tour finished we gradually made our way through the other areas of the Alcazar. The buildings were lovely, however Scott and I both liked the gardens the best.
After the Alcazar we wandered across the river to Triana and found a restaurant to have lunch at. The restaurant was definitely less touristy than the other places we'd been in Seville. We ordered fried fish, artichoke hearts with cane syrup and parmesan cheese, patatas bravas and
a chicken skewer. The food was nice and very cheap.
After lunch walked to the Metropol Parasol which is a modern art structure with excellent views over Seville. We paid our 3 Euros, caught the lift up to the viewing deck and then strolled around taking photos of the view. After admiring the view we drank our free drink and then headed back to our AirBNB to relax.
We headed back out in time to find our way to the Museo de Baile Flamenco about half an hour before the show was due to start. We were lucky we arrived when we did as most seats were already taken and many of the ones remaining were behind columns. We grabbed two of the remaining decent seats, bought a drink and waited for the show to start.
The show featured a singer, guitarist, male dancer and female dancer. They performed as a group as well as each doing a solo. The show was fantastic as all performers were wonderful. Even Scott enjoyed the performance more than he expected to (he won't admit it but I can tell as he didn't complain or fall asleep).
After the show
we headed to another highly rated restaurant for dinner. This time we ordered a goats cheese tart, an eggplant stack with goats cheese and dark chocolate, a rosemary, lemon and ginger with mascarpone cheese risotto and a Japanese inspired beef dish. Once again the food was lovely, Sevilla has definitely had the best food of the trip so far.
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