I have a token few words of Spanish and while I can understand a chunk of what’s being said because I have Italian, I certainly wasn’t expecting to have my heart stolen by a, albeit ravishingly beautiful, Spanish city. Seville is a treasure that I urge you to visit. Perhaps it was the skin warming sunshine present throughout my entire visit. Perhaps the brevity of my stay meant I wore rose-tinted glasses and only saw the good side. Perhaps it was because I am mildly obsessed with Game of Thrones and this city is a real-life Dorne. Or perhaps Seville really is a sparkling, Andalucian treat and you kind of need to get there to experience it for yourself. One thing is for sure, I left Seville knowing that I had fallen in love with yet another European city and that this newish habit of mine is getting ridiculous. I should perhaps concentrate a little more on falling in love with a man instead of a string of cities. Read my 9 reasons why you too will fall in love with Seville.
It’s just a hop via plane to the sun
I chose Seville as a mini, solo trip and an early but frightfully affordable €80 flight from Dublin meant I was in the October sunshine in under 3 hours, just in time for lunch. This city is perfect for a solo break. Do you enjoy wandering around cobbled streets past quaint plazas? Seville has you covered. Aside from the big players like Plaza de Espana and La Giralda, there are plenty of barrios and maze-like streets in which you can get wonderfully lost. On one of my tours, the guide said that the summer temperatures in the city can be blazing and this was a perfect time of year to go. I love the heat and sunshine so sneaking it in, unexpectedly, in Autumn was delightful.
You can get your history fill
Well, Seville has history oozing from its towers and tavernas. From the earliest 9th century Tartessian tribal settlers followed by Roman rule to the visibly influential Moorish conquerors and the Golden Age of New World trade, history is in abundance here. I knew that Christopher Columbus had sailed his voyages of discovery in the name of Spain and Queen Isabella but I don’t think I ever knew it was from Seville that he departed. His crest is visible in the Alcazar coat of arms room and the files on his discoveries are housed in the Archivo de Indias beside the cathedral.
The resplendent Alcazar displays Islamic architecture mixed with that of the Christian rulers who came after. A melting pot of styles and stories. I’m not a mahoosive history buff, nor do I seek out all the historical elements of a city, but anyone with eyes can see that Seville has a tale to tell and even a wander from bar to bar will reveal stunning buildings that remind you of images of far-off lands. I did a tour with Seville Insider at the Visitor Centre. The barrio de Santa Cruz walking tour began at 8pm and my €20 included access to the Alzcazar and a guide the next day at 1pm. There are free night tours in Seville with freetour.com, I believe, but they only run during the summer. I loved the bitesize facts and general history overview because being in the city for only 30 hours meant I wanted to learn a little as well as eat a lot and wander more!
If you are like me and love tapas tasting (and sampling a refreshing tinto de verrano or three as you stroll around a new city getting your bearings) then you will love Seville. Yesiree, Seville has so many tapas bars to choose from you are spoiled for choice.
My hotel gave me a few suggestions but you will find a myriad of offers without being pestered as you stroll about the old city centre. Brush up on your Spanish and head to the chilled trendy Alameda de Hercules neighbourhood and Café Hércules for authentic tapas dishes in a cash-only bar that gives you a real local vibe. Wander along the Calle Mateos Gago which is right in the middle of the buzzing tourist thoroughfare and you will spot a yellow bar with two columns outside, Bodega de Santa Cruz (Las Colomnas).
This local’s favourite is a no-nonsense tapas bar. Serving reasonably priced bites and wine all while elbow to elbow with shouting locals and baffled tourists.
You can go film location spotting
Have you a geeky interest in film locations? Well, the Alcazar in Seville was the setting for my current favourite show; Game of Thrones and the city of Dorne. ‘Star Wars- Attack of the Clones’ used part of Plaza de Espana for a city location, some part of ‘Mission Impossible 2’ and a movie called ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ was also filmed in the city. As you can see my interest wanes by the end of that list because I was only interested in Dorne. #HouseMartell. It is easy to see how this place was so often chosen as a location to capture on film because not only is it incredibly otherworldy in its beauty but it mixes old, older and historically old so seamlessly. Even if you aren’t interested in film locations or Game of Thrones (although why would you not?!) then the Alcazar is an absolute must. It is by far one of the most impressive and gloriously beautiful buildings I have ever seen. The intricate art work displayed on every wall, window, floor tile and garden will keep your jaw on the floor for your entire visit.
Hotels in the charming heart of old Seville
My hotel, Hotel Patio de las Cruces, says it’s a 4 star but my basic and slightly dated room begged to differ. I didn’t care because it was clean and comfy and I was in it for all of 8 hours plus it was €43 for the night. So that sold it. Plus, it was nestled in the bosom of the historic old centre and reminded me of riads in Marrakech. An unassuming entranceway opened up into an inner courtyard around which the few rooms were dotted. This mini oasis of green plants was unexpected and delightful and a short walk to the cathedral and Alcazar so I was happy. Having a centrally located hotel in such a picturesque area means breakfast with a view. What’s not to love about that!?
It’s got views for days
Here’s my little money saving tip if you enjoy a good panoramic vista, Metropol Parasol. La Giralda was closed the day I wanted to go up because it was a holy day. It was reopening in the afternoon but by then I had a tour planned and was leaving for Madrid. You need to be in the queue for the cathedral bright and early so I knew I had missed the boat on this visit. I headed, instead, to Metropol Parasol, Las Setas de la Encarnacion and saw this striking, albeit weird looking, spacey mushroom structure.
This spot has lifts that go to the top and offer fab views out over the city for only €3. The entry is down below ground and accessed by the ramps and stairway to the left of the main steps. I spent a good 15 mins looking for that entrance so head’s up! There is a restaurant on top too so you can get a tipple and a view in one. It was relatively quiet up there when I visited about 11am and certainly not as busy as I heard the tower can be.
Seville is a photography dream
Seville has gifted me some of my favourite photos from my trips this year. The light, the scenery, the colours are all fab and you will be hard-pressed to take more than a few steps without seeing yet ANOTHER picture worthy cafe, corner, edifice, doorway or angle. In the short time I was there, 30 hours, in fact. I must have taken about 250 photos. A good chunk of them are the cathedral and Alcazar, I’ll admit. And ponies. A lot of ponies. I do love being spoilt for choice in a place and Seville is such a photogenic beauty your biggest problem will be space on your memory card.
The Kissing Street
Last but not least is the fact that there is a street in this city called the Kissing Street. This melted my icy heart no end! The streets in the Santa Cruz area are narrow and the buildings seem to angle in towards each other in places. There is one such street and the balconies from the opposite buildings are so close they are almost touching or kissing. Should you be standing on said balconies you can reach out and touch the other person. This is ever so romantic if your ‘across the road’ neighbour is a hottie you want to get to know better. Less so if he or she is a grunting creeper who insists on loitering on their balcony to nab you for a conversation about bunions.
If by now I haven’t convinced you that a trip to Seville is well worth your time then I have not done my job very well. Spain is a treasure to be explored but, in my opinion, Seville is the jewel in the crown.