Spain: The Glow of Sevilla
On the way to Sevilla, we stopped on the side of the road to take in Arcos de la Frontera, an all-white town jutting out of the sierra mountain range. It’s one of the most famous pueblos blancos and came highly recommended by Rick Steves’ Audio Europe App. But, we couldn’t risk any more damage to our rental car by driving the tiny, one-way streets, so instead we headed straight to Sevilla.
We arrived in the city, dropped off the rental car, and taxied to our final destination. Staying in the Santa Cruz neighborhood, we wound the corner through the kissing alleys to our hotel next to the Jardines de Murillo. We walked around the gardens to get to our closest major attraction: Real Alcázar de Sevilla. This royal palace was originally developed by Moorish Muslim kings back in the day. Walking through room after room and garden after garden, it closely resembled the alcázares of Granada and Córdoba. Reflecting its own distinct style through, it was one of our favorite palaces of the three glowing in the morning sun.
Taking in the history even more, we made sure to visit the Archivo General de Indias around the corner from the more distinctive cathedral. This place is a UNESCO World Heritage site that serves as a central repository of valuable historical archives of the once expansive Spanish empire. It was important for me to learn about the history of the Spanish conquest and see the history of the Americas through Spanish eyes. It was a vast archive with crucial details of each country in the Americas that came alive through the topographical maps — one of the coolest artifacts there!
Visiting the Seville Cathedral was mandatory since it’s the third largest Gothic church in Europe. However, I wasn’t at all too enthused to find Columbus’ tomb on full display in a central area of the church. And, I had no qualms about taking pictures this time around. I did, however, marvel at how tiny the man must have been; his tomb was pint-sized! Well, I guess it just goes to show the Napoleon complex existed long before the man himself did.
The best part of the cathedral though were its exteriors. In the day…
…and at night!
We stopped by for drinks at EME, a trendy hotel rooftop bar, and plopped down in front of one of the best nightly views of the church’s watchtower.
Then, we trekked over to Plaza de España. I’m sure it’s a gorgeous spectacle any time of day, but we drew such enjoyment from the sultry spotlight lighting up the place at night. It reminded me of a fairy tale castle!
Another evening we ventured across town to a more modern part of the city. There we found Metropol Parasol, a wooden waffle-like sculpture in the popular La Encarnación square with a terrace boasting beautiful views of the city.
One night we also attempted another flamenco show. But, because we had a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Granada, our flamenco show at La Casa del Flamenco couldn’t live up to such high expectations. We enjoyed it for what it was though: a total tourist trap! With a lot of showboating and smiling, the dancers played well for the crowd. Oh well, at least we got a better taste for Seville at our next stop…
One of our favorite places was the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla. It’s a mouthful of a name for the bullring that still hosts monthly bullfights. And a museum next to the bullring features paintings, sculptures, costumes and other regalia commemorating this long-held Spanish tradition.
Our tour guide told us about a story of a most famous bullfight between a legendary bullfighter and a stubborn bull. The bull went pound for pound making the bullfighter work for everything he earned. The bull fought so hard that the bullfighter couldn’t bare to slaughter him or send him to the butcher — a fate that belies every bull who loses a match. So, the bullfighter pardoned the noble bull. I like to believe they became best friends after that, passing each year celebrating each other’s birthday. After the noble bull died of old age, they immortalized him in the museum adjacent to the bullring above the legendary bullfighter’s costume.
I couldn’t help donning my own matador attire in the center of the iconic plaza…
…and playing out a scene we felt captured the essence of the dynamic relationship in that legendary bullfight!