Imagine a magical world where colourful architecture and swaying orange trees line every street, where the sun is always shining, sangria always flowing and in the air, a contagious energy that makes the city, and anyone in it, feel absolutely alive.
I am about to blow your mind, but this place exists, and its name is Seville.
As the fourth largest city in Spain, Seville is the capital of the Andalusia region, a delightful slice of the world synonymous with fiery flamenco, delicious tapas and bull-conquering matadors.
After a phenomenal day in Salamanca last week, I had high expectations for my return to Spain, and I can say with great certainty that today has been one of the best days of the Photo Tour so far. Seville is one of those cities that sweeps you off your feet, and even in the sweltering heat of the Spanish summer, there was no possible way to escape its beauty and bustling energy.
Accompanied today by our hilarious guide Pepe, we got a chance to visit some of Seville’s major attractions, including the colourful Baroque Palace of San Telmo (house of the Andalusian government) the Seville Cathedral (final resting place of Christopher Columbus) and my two favourite stops of the day: the Alcázar of Seville and Plaza de España.
As the oldest royal palace in Europe still in use, there is no doubt that the Alcázar is a spectacular sight. This palace complex, a product of many adaptations throughout the years, is a fascinating blend of various architectural styles. Walking through the complex's residential buildings and gardens, visitors are treated to a beautiful blend of Mudéjar, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture. Its beauty is so lavish in fact, that it was chosen as a primary filming location for the past season of hit TV show Game of Thrones. As a long-time fan of the show, I was ecstatic. Wandering through the palace grounds, I had an unshakable grin on my face. I marveled at every garden, every façade and every little detail like a starry-eyed child. It’s not everyday that you’re able to walk through the set of one of your favourite TV shows… so I count myself very lucky!
My other favourite stop of the day was the majestic Plaza de España. At my first glimpse of this impressive plaza, I was absolutely blown away. Impossibly picturesque, it was built as the grand centerpiece for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929. Originally designed with a ‘wow-factor’ in mind, 80 years later, this space continues to draw visitors in as one of Seville’s most popular attractions. Its curved semi-circular structure features two tall towers on either end, with a column-laden gallery winding along a 515m long canal. Painted ceramic details can be observed throughout the space, particularly in the 48 alcoves scattered around the complex, one for each of Spain's provinces. The grandeur of this plaza is almost otherworldly, which might explain its use in popular films like Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars. For an extra magical experience, there are even boat rentals along the canal, and horse carriage rides departing close by.
And while I could talk about its architecture and attractions all day, what really impressed me about Seville was its ability to offer a perfect mix of aesthetic beauty and vibrant culture. Yes, Seville is picturesque and packed with gorgeous sights, but it is undoubtedly far more than just a pretty face. Present throughout the city’s streets is a buzzing and energetic ambiance that takes hold of both locals and visitors alike. I must say, standing there in the gorgeous Plaza de España, with the gentle clip clop of horse carriages as they prodded by, it became quite clear that Seville would become one of my favourite destinations so far.
A word of advice, of course: this scorching hot city is best explored with an ice cream in-hand:
And so, after spending the latter half of our afternoon in navigation, our evening concluded with a nighttime tour around the city of Cadiz, which was absolutely abuzz with the energy of Friday night. A rock concert entertained crowds in the distance, while thousands of gaditanos flooded the streets for the start of their weekend. Our post-dinner walk offered a brief, but nice introduction to the city, and I am very excited for our big tour tomorrow.
Now, it’s only the first day, but if today’s adventure was any indication, I will be very happy cruising along the Guadalquivir this week.
Update you all soon!