Wander through the narrow streets of Seville – Part 1
There’s something about Spain, it’s like listening to a feel good song. Dramatic scenery; Rich history. Strong food culture; Enviable climate. The country has so much to offer. What better introduction to Andalucia than Seville. The city has three Unesco world heritage sites. I wanted to get my own taste of a city with such an interesting ideologist, architectural and cultural background.
A greek god gives life to the city
As legend goes, the city is founded 3000 years ago by Hercules. Formely known as Hispalis or Isbiliya, Seville seats on the bank of the Guadalquivir river. Right on the other side of the river is Triana. I am in Seville for a long week-end and i am hoping to grasp a bit of the lifeblood of the city. I arrive in the evening on a hot August. The temperature is a roaring 28 degrees celcius. Despite the fatigue my eagerness takes over. The air outside is so warm and enticing. I head for a stroll.
I start to walk and the air shifts a little. As if someone is blowing golden glow above the layer of darkness. I strolled down alleyways and my shadow dances under the streets lights. I reach the cathedral area and walk round the building. It has an ethereal glow. My first impression of the city is that it is romantic and enchanting.
On my way back I walked past a small tapas bar and spot five men playing a game of chest. Well two are playing and three are watching and making funny noises. I am guessing their age group is between 45 and 70. I stop and watch for a while. “Hola guapita” says the oldest one. Shouldn’t you be concentrating on the game i say to myself. Amused, they wave me in. I oblige.
My Spanish is put to test. One of the men, Juan, points at his glass of cerveza and nods his head. It would be rude to say no. The waiter brings one for me. It’s bitter. Reminds me of why I do not drink beer. Absently picking at my potatoes tapas, I am fascinated by the expression on these men’s faces and the speed at which they speak. Time flies. Exhausted, I regretfully wave goodbye to my new friends and head back to bed. It is 11.30pm. What a charming introduction to the Seville.
Exploring Seville is like walking inside a gorgeous impressionist painting
Setting up very bright and early, I catch glimpses of the city waking up. Locals are busy with their morning business. Early morning cortado and cafe con leche are swallowed. Faces are expressive. Voices are raw. The energy is rising. This moment observing life feels special.
What hits me as i am walking through the maze is this wonderful feeling of stepping in a huge melting pot of religions and cultures. I am meandering through the Santa Cruz area known as the old Jewish quarter. This was the old medina. It is a jigsaw narrow cobbled streets. Walking here feels a bit like a finding your way in labyrinth. Reminds me Morroco. The Hospital de los Venerables has this wonderful baroque architecture I am discovering.
Walking further in Callejon de Agua with wrought iron gates, I can easily picture life in the typical patios. Little courtyards straight out of a painting. Little I am met with an area full of soul. Islamic history an incredible architecture.
Striking golden colours; Intricate carved buildings; Scuffed honey and white walls. Tall windows protected with wrought iron grilles. The same framework found on balconies. As Antonio Gaia once said: “the issue is not that Sevillians think they live in the most beautiful place on earth; Even worst is the fact that they may be right in thinking so”. I am met with an oasis of culture and creativity.
A horse-and-trap tourist spot worth its weight in gold, literally
The cathedral. This may be a horse-and-trap tourist spot but definitely one I would not have missed for a pack of gold. The 3rd largest cathedral in the world and Christopher Columbus final resting place. Being inside when it is still virtually empty feels almost overpowering.
Luck has it that a priest in there is kind enough for a small chat and a brief shot of history. If it wasn’t for him, I would have missed going round the many doors on its four facades. Each of the doors boosts a unique feature. The altarpiece is the richest in the world. A 45 pieces strong carved carved wood covered in gold. A staggering amount of gold. I am lost for words. On its flank, the massive Giralda. A 98m tall tower. The Giralda is actually the minaret of the former mosque that once stood where the cathedral is built.
It’s mid-morning. The temperature is rising. I see why Seville deserves its reputation of hot oven in August. I head for a mid-morning café, enchanted by the smell of oranges wafting through the warm air. Looks like every other doorway is a local joint or a café. Sturdy breakfasts are eaten devouringly. Tostadas with ham and tomatoes appear on tables, along with cafe con leche. This promises to be a rich day.
I allow myself to get lost and make my way to a different barrio ripe for exploration
The city’s food culture is as strong as the street-life is lively. Local joints counters are topped with bocadillos; Solomillo; Patatas bravas; Tortillas. Chunk of jamon and other tapas-style nibbles. Moving on from one tapas bar other is a local sport. Tapeo as Sevillanos call it. Foodies will be hard pressed to have a bad time here.
Fiery flamenco dance.
xoxo M. Let’s share our inspiration