Seville: a place so full of things to admire that it feels impossible to take a picture that does justice to its beauty. Yet you snap away regardless, trying to capture the charm and magic of this Andalucian city. Every turn, and there are many of them, brings into view beautiful architecture and quirky streets that, basking in the August sun, beg to be photographed.
There’s substance behind theses postcard scenes, too. The Alcázar, or palace, feels like a trick. Its walls, almost resembling a castle from a playmobile set, give no clue to the size or beauty that exist inside the walls. Once inside, the cool corridors, exquisitely tiled walls and picturesque courtyards (resembling a Game of Thrones set) are a wonder.
It’s a place to spend hours, just sitting and admiring the original Moorish architecture, the lush gardens and fountains.
Seville’s cathedral steals the show in terms of landmark, because, with a minaret that stands more than a 100 metres tall, you can’t miss it. As limited as my personal interest in religious painting and iconography is, the grand scale of the building, the intricate details and the architecture are a marvel.
The entrance fee, paid after a queue in very hot sun (Seville tip number one: do not go in August!), includes access to the tower (The Giralda), the minaret of the mosque that stood on the site before the Cathedral. It’s well worth the 9 Euros to stride up the ramp (no stairs until the last few metres) to the top for the view with which you are rewarded.
From high above Seville, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a city without streets, forgiven for presuming it was a network of rooftops and that no car could possibly navigate the seemingly street-less city below.
But the streets themselves are part of Seville’s magic; at times narrow enough for either a car or a pedestrian, they leave you enjoying being lost, as you delight in thinking you’re back where you started only to realise the seemingly familiar street is as unique as the one before.
Seville is a tourist’s city: sites, beauty, an abundance of tapas restaurants, ice cream vendors and bars, as well as horse and carriage rides available at every major area mean you’re never stuck for something to do.
However, across the Isabel II bridge is the neighbourhood of Triana. This feels like a place where people live. Its atmosphere reminded me of a much warmer, tiled and whitewashed version of a market town. Practical shops interspersed with pretty clothes shops, locals putting the world to rights over coffee, and people going about their business all give the area a lived in feeling. A trip along the river also affords a good view of the pretty houses and businesses away from Seville’s tourist hot spots.
Seville’s past is tied up in Moorish and Islamic history, followed by Christian occupation and this makes it fresh and interesting. It is touristic, sure, but with good reason. It is a place to visit and forget about the rest of the world. A place to get lost in, to relax in and to enjoy.