Our first encounter
The first time I arrived in Seville, it was quite out of my plans. My idea in Europe was mainly visiting Portugal. Plan was to travel from Lisbon to the north and cross to Spain. As you will suppose, the road changed. I ended up entering Spain through the center in Badajoz. I was going south and thus inadvertently got into Andalusia.
My route was going to Malaga. I had a few days before the scheduled date to start volunteering by Workaway. So there was no need to rush.
I had already left Portugal and started melting in the autumn sun of southern Spain . A standard summer anywhere else in the world.
Picked up by a couple who came from a wedding, we shared the trip of more than two hours, about 250 km. They asked me if I was going to stop in the city and where I wanted them to leave me. I had little idea and indeed I did not pay much attention to their recommendations. I didn’t know where I was going, my mind was still in Malaga.
We arrived at the El Prado station, around 6 in the afternoon. The station was semi-deserted and did not say much. There was no internet connection, so my best option was to go to the Santa Justa train station about 30 minutes away, according to my map.
My walk took me to the other station, more modern and with many more options. I sat on the floor to charge the cell phone, send some messages and give some signs of life. I knew that hitchhiking at that time was no longer an option … What if I give this city a chance?
So, I decided to spend a night.
When a decision changes all
There were several hostels available so I chose one among them all and went there.
I did not chose the nearest or the cheapest. I just narrowed my search and picked one. When I arrived, there was an Argentinian working at the reception. As a nod to fate, in the background there was a poster: “Do you want to volunteer here?”. He told me that he was going back to Argentina in a few days and there was no one to replace him. The next morning I spoke with the owner. We agreed on days, schedules and the non-plans changed again.
Some time later we returned to Seville, this time travelling in two. Here we try to explain our reasons why you should put Seville on the list of places to visit.
City of contrasts
The city lives. Seville is showing itself alone. In just one walk can be seen how the old coexists with the modern. The influences on the constructions are represented in an ideal contrast. Buildings from different periods followed by misaligned houses and massive walls complement the picture. On the one side you can find carriages, on the other the tram. Two completely different faces that show harmony, although it seems difficult.
It is true that almost all year Seville is full of tourists, but it is enough to walk a bit away from the center to see more. Leave the crowd aside and enter its narrow and elusive, medieval streets. Balconies and gates let you see further and make you feel like traveling in time.
Although everything is well organized and accessible, you can turn at any corner to get lost and see what’s there. Macarena and its walls, Jewish quarter, Santa Cruz, are all the places where you can find something that will surely surprise you.
What to do in Seville?
In Seville there is much to be done.
Seville is a big city. Capital of Andalusia, it is the fourth largest city in Spain with more than 600 thousand inhabitants.
It has a rich history: from Romans and Arabs to Vikings, all of them have gone through these lands and left their marks. Surprising, right?
Seville was the neuralgic, economic and administrative center of everything that came from America, a few years ago. Although it has one of the largest historical centers in Europe, it is well concentrated so walking around it becomes fairly easy task. For those people who like to determine days in each place, as if the trip was an hourglass, let’s say you need 3 days. If you are in a hurry, 2 days can be a good number to see it. But to say that you can get to know a city in two days would be an underestimation.
Seville and Flamenco
Seville is awarded (among several other things) to be the capital of flamenco. From there, in each of its streets you can find something related to this. Singers, guitars, dancers and souvenirs as you can imagine.
From one corner to the other in its neighborhoods, flamenco culture breathes. Throughout the city you can see cafes, bars and restaurants with shows and performances. You can find also street artists performing in several parts of the city center. So if you enjoy flamenco, you should visit the Flamenco Dance Museum. But in general you can find a lot of offer at each step.
In my case, I do not find much appeal to flamenco singing. So every time I saw them, I started putting together my own guide “where I should not go.” “Again this?” That’s how I know that you can find them in few places. It can be picturesque for a visit, but after a few weeks listening to it …
As typical as flamenco, are the gypsies. I think there are as many of them as tourists and they are going to throw a curse on you, if you do not want to take the rosemary that they offer you. The rosemary that is offered in exchange for a few euros, of course.
Seville and the Religion
It is, at least of the cities I visited, one of the most religious cities that I saw (I do not think that the Sevillians might be disturbed to adjudge that, in fact I think they would not even question it). In my case, I do not sympathize with religious issues, but I find at least some interesting curiosities, people saving or cursing in the name of God … And at each step, what continues to amaze are the names of the streets and institutions. You will see it.
What to visit?
There are many places and corners to see and visit. Museums and historical houses. Here we provide an overview of what we think are the main attractions of the city.
From the town hall in a new square through avenue of the constitution, following the lines of the tram you will arrive at the Cathedral, an icon of the Sevillian center.
It is one of the largest cathedrals in the world, I think the 2nd or 3rd. Imposing, historical building with all those amazing gates and decoration. The mix of styles that have been adding up for centuries, the Giralda with its more than 100 meters is absolutely stunning. The Cathedral of Seville is an admirable construction.
For those who consider it important, besides visiting the building, the tower and the gardens, there are also tombs of important persons. Those of a few kings and also that of Columbus.
Archive of Indians
It is true that it is a historical building with more information than you can imagine. One of the most important archives in the world. In my case, I visit it to answer some internal questions.
It’s almost just that: an archive. Access to information is limited. Still, it is worth a visit and there are many interesting things to see. Maps, dated letters and navigation data. In addition, the entrance is free.
Alcazar and its gardens. Visiting the palace and getting involved in its history is mandatory, if you are visiting Seville; although you have to be more than patient to be able to see something at any time, as it is always crowded and even to take a picture you have to wait in a queue.
Labyrinths, carpets, gardens, tiles, fountains and decorations with all the details perfectly contribute to the attractiveness of a place that still serves as official accommodation of Spanish royalty.
Although it can be difficult to be alone in the palace, it is worth visiting. It is a place that allows us to see what the Muslims represented in this part of the world and how they stayed there for so long. The fact of remaining in these conditions serves to have a complete overview of the culture, although it was the heritage of others. A monument that helps us to think about another moment of history.
Plaza de España
Different is to walk around Plaza de España. Built about 100 years ago, for the Ibero-American fair, the main building offers a much wider panorama. You can walk without being pushed! And the views are very impressive.
In front of it, Maria Luisa Park was built for the same purpose. A green space, which takes you away from the noise. Here you can walk calmly, sit down to eat or even take a nap. Why not?
The tower of gold
Walk down the coast of the river to the Tower of gold. A historical tower with striking structure. From the top you can have a different view of the city. Currently it is a maritime museum. But to the disappointment of our imagination and hope of some interesting pirate tale, the museum had never had any gold treasure. The story is that it was decorated with mosaics that reflected the sun and gave it a particular touch and brightness. It worked as a watchtower and has been a jail to some famous prisoners. Today is a meeting point and continues to give that particular touch to the city’s waterfront.
Bullring Real Maestranza
Bullring. One of the largest, oldest and most popular in Spain (it has some Sevillian title). I do not support bullfights, but it is an iconic building of the city and representative of Sevillian and Spanish culture in general. You can see a museum and any free walking tour will take you through it .
Seville – Betis
For those who are interested in football, Seville also has its football attraction. Seville derby. If you have a bit of luck, you can see some other game of the Spanish league. Although in both cases, it is not so easy to get the tickets.
Seville from the other side
Crossing the Guadalquivir River takes you to Triana, sister neighborhood, formerly gypsy part, but today resurfacing with a wide range of bars. From there you can see Seville from the front side. Flamenco, chic bars and less waves of tourists make walking along Betis Street and river a good plan for seeing the sunset.
Seville is a university city. The city has a lot of student movement, and an atmosphere that is always going to provide you with something to do. Many people walking and an open bar or some place to eat will not be missing.
Beyond that, in autumn and winter during the week, after midnight the center of the city sleeps. Walking the streets at night gives another point of view. Calmness, silence and hidden corners where you can only hear the noise of your steps, will allow you to see the city in a totally different way.
To pass the heat, always we choose beer. Although the cuisine of Seville is not the greatest element to highlight, tapas are a ”must try”.
Autostop in Seville
I arrived to Seville and I went all the way hitchhiking (AUTOSTOP) more than once and I can say it is not so easy. The Andalusians have a reputation for not trusting too much. That does not make it impossible, but I do not recommend doing it in the summer. It becomes difficult to breathe and can make more than 50 degrees (according to Sevillian thermometers). In addition, the olive trees do not give much shade.
It is convenient to take an intermediate bus to a nearby city and start outside of the metropolitan area.
They say it is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world. It is compared to Paris and Venice …
I see it differently, it has everything. Everything close and in harmony. A lot of history, legends and much more. A large city in which you will surely find soul and grandeur of the village.
Seville is a great city to see, I arrived to spend a night and stayed there more than a month.