Seville is one of the most vibrant towns in Spain, and a genuinely exciting place to visit. Famed as the home of flamenco, with a legendary culinary scene, and a buzzing nightlife that rarely ends before the small hours of the morning, it seems to condense the spirit of all of Andalusia into its tightly packed streets. Home to just over 700,000 people, it has the feel of a much bigger city and a small town simultaneously.
Seville’s compact historic centre, and fascinating barrios of La Macarena, Alameda, Santa Cruz and Triana, are some of the most atmospheric of any city in Europe. It combines strong Moorish influences, with classical Spanish Golden Age magnificence, and harmoniously blends the ancient and modern. In the heart of the city, the futuristic Metropol Parasol rubs shoulders with the 16th century Iglesia de la Anunciación.
Stay in Seville for any length of time and I defy you not to fall in love with it. It’s often described as ‘sultry’, a word applied equally to the weather, music and people, giving the impression that it’s a hotter (in both senses of the word) version of Paris. It’s also a friendly and stylish place where, thanks to the sultry weather, life is played out on the streets. Even in the cooler days of winter, the squares and parks are where you find the city’s pulse.
We arrived without much of a plan. We definitely wanted to revisit several tapas bars, remembered from our previous visit. Granada had whetted our appetite for Moorish architecture, so the Alcázar was on our list. You can’t not visit the glorious cathedral, or a climb up it’s gorgeous Moorish bell tower, the Giralda. The greatest pleasure of being in Seville though, is to simply wander the ancient streets and discover the city at walking pace.
This now includes a walk above the rooftops on the Metropol Parasol. Seville’s ‘mushrooms’, as this addition to the cityscape is known, and not always affectionately, is an extraordinary piece of architecture. Towering over the otherwise ordinary Plaza de la Encarnación, the Parasol does just that, provides much needed shade to the people below. Up above though, it is an undulating walkway offering views over the city.
We stayed out of the centre, in Heliópolis, a colourful Seville neighbourhood of beautiful white houses and orange tree-lined streets. It was built for the Exposición Iberoamericana de Sevilla in 1929, a World’s Fair for the Americas. Far from the tourist hoards, the area offers a different perspective on Seville. Our hotel, Hotel Holos, is also one of the nicest hotels we’ve stayed at in Spain.
After the drive over from the Sierra Nevada we reached Seville late. Instead of heading into town we went to a popular local tapas bar specialising in seafood. The place was full and we joined the locals eating and drinking – the perfect way to relax into the Sevillano way of life. The next morning we had an early start to try to get ahead of the crowds exploring the Alcázar…