A paradise on Earth
Sevilla is a work of art. It is the capital of Andalusia, a Spanish region that has more beauty and history than all the rest of the Iberian Peninsula combined. Sevilla is also rich in culture and, besides, it is always warm and its people live happily.
A popular Spanish song says: “Sevilla tiene un color especial” (Sevilla has a especial colour) because in Sevilla we preserve a living folklore, old traditions, delicious gastronomy and wines, the unique Sevilla Fair every April with spontaneous flamenco dances in the streets and our ladies wearing beautiful dresses and riding arrogant Arab blooded horses, the fervent and contagious Easter processions with religious statues, the labyrinth and narrow streets of lovely Barrio de Santa Cruz (quarter), the beaches are at just one hour driving, the weather is always pleasant, and most important: the gentleness of its people, the friendliest in Spain.
Sevilla was founded in the times of the millenary Kingdom of Tartessos, which many historians identify with a fragment of the mythical lost Atlantis Continent. It was later capital of the Roman province Betica, giving two Caesars to the Empire: Publio Elio Adriano and Trajano, both born in Hispalis, old name of Sevilla. The former constructed the Adriano Wall in England, to protect Britannia from the Picts. Greeks, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths and Moors have all left an imprint in this city of which every Spaniard feels proud.
If Madrid has its outstanding architect Juan de Herrera, and Barcelona its fantastic Antonio Gaudi, Sevilla has the genius Anibal Gonzalez, who erected our today most terrific Sevilla buildings. Other renowned genius and artists born in Sevilla were Velazquez, Murillo, Isidoro de Sevilla, Bartolome de las Casas, and a long list.
In Spain we say that all Spanish cities starting with the letter “S” are the most beautiful. And it is true: Segovia, Salamanca, Santander, Soria, Santiago de Compostela, Santillana del Mar, San Sebastian and, of course, numero uno: Sevilla, the city of my mother.
The enchanting quarter known as Barrio de Santa Cruz is in the UNESCO list. Please, keep reading and come with me, I show you this area in these lines: we enter through Jardin de Murillo, a lovely garden with ficus (fig-trees) having 300 years of age, then we stop to admire the Balcony of The Barber of Seville, famous for the Rossini Opera (whose wife was Spanish). A few metres ahead we see the square called Murillo, where was his tomb before being destroyed by the Napoleonic troops, and 50 metres in front stands the statue of Don Juan (the celebrated promiscuous and impenitent licentious man who thanks to his charisma and handsomeness conquered all the women), whose personage inspired Moliere, Mozart, Dumas, Lord Byron and our Jose Zorrilla. Finally, through labyrinth streets, we reach the square Los Venerables, near the narrow street de la Pimienta (Pepper) where in the Sevilla Golden Age were sold the spices from the Moluccas, in today Indonesia.
Did you like the journey?
The Sevilla Cathedral is the third greatest in the world after Vatican’s in Rome and Saint Paul in London. Inside you will find Christopher Columbus tomb and the Giralda, the main Sevilla symbol, an old minaret transformed in Bell Tower. One night at the turn of the XIX century a thief managed to hide himself inside the Cathedral. Next morning, when we opened the doors, we noticed that a fragment of a Murilllo painting representing San Antonio de Padova was missing. The news spread around the world. Some months later a man presented this Murillo fragment to an antiquarian in New York. The antiquarian, realizing that it was the stolen Murillo painting could do nothing but to buy it, because there was not telephone at those times to call the police. Then he went to the Spanish Embassy, explained the case and returned the painting. The Ambassador wanted to reward him, but the antiquarian refused. We do not even know the name of this benevolent antiquarian; only that he was from New York.
Sevilla was liberated from the Moors by our King Fernando III The Saint in 1248.
The Guadalquivir River is to Sevilla like the Thames to London or Seine to Paris. Come again with me to a boat excursion: we start in Torre del Oro, a Moorish fortress from the XIII century. Then we stop in the caravel Victoria, reproduction of the one used by Magellan and after his death by Elcano. After that we pass under the beautiful bridge Triana, designed by Gustav Eiffel, and another one called El Alamillo made by Santiago Calatrava, the architect who designed the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias in Valencia and the Olympic Stadium in Athens in 2004. In the way back we see Carmen Statue, of Proper Merimee (composer of Carmen that Georges Bizet brought to the well known opera).
And finally we encircle part of the most beautiful park in Spain, much lovely than Parque del Retiro en Madrid or Park Guell in Barcelona: MARIA LUISA, with its magnificent Plaza de Espana and its buildings by Anibal Gonzalez. In that fabulous square were filmed “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Star Wars”.
Within the Barrio de Santa Cruz my favourite restaurant is MESON DEL LAUREL, in Plaza de Los Venerables. Inside there are motives in the walls reminding the hours that the legendary Don Juan spent playing cards and sometimes battling in duel with the husbands of the wives that he had seduced. You will also see hanging from the ceiling “jamones” or dry pig legs, heads of garlic, dried peppers and other food products. The atmosphere is charming. I always go there with my mates and we eat dozens of tapas (small portions of Spanish delicatessen) as troglodytes, and pay 12 euros per person. Another good choice nearby is LA CUEVA, in Plaza Dona Ines, with a beautiful patio and terraces where for 8 euro you can have a business lunch including paella, gazpacho (delicious cold soup based on tomato, cucumber, salt and vinegar) plus a glass of sangria. Outside the Barrio de Santa Fe I advise you to try tapas in the restaurants of the pedestrian Calle Sierpes, in modern Sevilla, like EL BURLAERO.
The Feria de Sevilla is the best club that you can visit while in Sevilla if you go from the 15th to the 21st of April, symbolising the exaltation of the spring season. Over 1000 “casetas” or tents in an esplanade near the Guadalquivir River will offer you wine fino and tapas and shows without interruption, day and night. The Feria de Sevilla is the most popular Spanish fiesta, (more than Sanfermines in Pamplona where we let the bulls running in the streets.). It is an old tradition since the XVI century and is organized by brotherhoods. It started as a fair to sell the Andalusia products, but today is a rejoicing event with dances, corridas and guitar playing, and not only in the esplanade, but in the whole city. Everybody goes with horses; the men wear sombreros and the women beautiful dresses. Indeed, Sevilla is better than a fairy tale, isn’t it?
I hope that you have had satisfaction in reading about Sevilla. I wish that one day you will visit it.
Imagine yourself sitting by the banks of the Guadalquivir River watching the boats playing music going by, the spontaneous flamenco singers and dancers who play before you for a few coins, and the pleasant refreshing breeze. You are drinking “Fino” wine INA or TIO PEPE, or Muscatel sweet wine, or Sherry from the neighbour town Jerez de la Frontera, and having “tapas” of “pescaito frito” (fried small delicious fishes), or bull tail with anchovy’s filled olives, or Roman style fried calamari. This place is called KIOSKO DE LAS FLORES, in Calle Betis, in Triana area. The last time that I was in this well known cafeteria/pub I met famous Flamenco singers eating tapas besides my table. In the same Calle Betis there are many other pubs and discos with lively music. Many people just go inside of any pub and after ordering go out with the drinks to admire the majesty of the Guadalquivir River by night.
Apartamentos Resitur is centrally located and rent doubles and triples with kitchen, in Calle Salado 4, near Plaza de Cuba, by the Guadalquivir River, in Triana quarter. Prices are cheap. If you want a more expensive hotel, then try the most beautiful and romantic in Europe: ALFONSO XIII, 5 stars, constructed in style Mudejar after a contest offered by our genial architect Anibal Gonzalez for the Expo 1929 and where was lodged our then King Alfonso XIII. I went just there to drink a coffee (2 euro, while in any bar you pay 70 cents!) but it was worth the atmosphere and the interiors. If you are a pilgrim making the Camino de Santiago on foot following the Ruta de la Plata (The Silver Road), then go first to the Cathedral to get the stamp in your Pilgrim Credential and then ask to the priest for the Pilgrims dormitory to sleep for free. There is the cheap and central: HOSTAL SIERPES, in Calle Corral del Rey 22, 41004 Sevilla, telephone 95 4224945.
There are many cultural tourists’ monuments in Sevilla. The Museo de Bellas Artes is wonderful and charges nothing. There you will admire many Spanish outstanding painters such as Bartolome Murillo (main Sevilla hero), plus some Velazquez and Goya, apart from other less famous Spanish artists. In Casa de Pilatos you will admire a house constructed in the XVI century by a marquis who travelled to Jerusalem. Casa Murillo, next door to Plaza de Los Venerables, in Santa Cruz, is also free, although there you will only see the house where he lived, and no paintings but lithography’s. Even if you do not like bull fighting, I advise you to visit the beautiful Maestranza arena. Until our Bourbon King Carlos III the corridas were played in the streets and squares, but he ordered to erect an especial construction like a Roman Circus in its interior and externally in style Mudejar (Mauritanian mixed with Spanish motives). Finally, The Reales Alcazares Palace/Fortress is another must in Sevilla.