Seville is… almost an ideal city. Its citizens like to joke that to achieve zenith of happiness they would only need access to the sea. This capital of Andalusia with a population of 700 thousand citizens is, after all, one of the hottest European cities.
For as long as I can remember, I have travelled a lot. And although I did not plan to emigrate, life had a different plan for me. In 2007, I decided to move to Seville. And although I have been working as a local guide in southern Spain for several years, I have not gotten bored with this job. I am lucky – I have the most beautiful “office” in the world.
Barrio de Santa Cruz district
The most characteristic monument is of course the gigantic 16th-century cathedral, the Giralda Tower, and the royal palace – the Alcázar of Seville. Another charming part of Seville worth visiting is the old district known as Barrio de Santa Cruz.
Small tenement houses and a labyrinth of narrow streets are silent witnesses of the slightly over one hundred-year-old history of the Jewish community. I also like admiring Seville while riding a bike. The citizens very often use this type of transport, as the city is rich in bike paths that make your travel comfortable and safe.
The biggest umbrella in the world
I am very often in the vicinity of Metropol Parasol. Itis presumably the largest wooden structure in the world. The top of the “mushroom” (Spanish: “Setas”), as it is locally called by Seville’s citizens, houses a vantage point that can be reached by elevator for EUR 3. From its top, you can see the whole city, which, in my opinion, makes it a perfect starting point of sightseeing.
Although very conservative and traditional inhabitants of the capital of Andalusia were sceptical about this modern building, now they are very eager to spend their time here. Thanks to the “mushroom”, the whole district came alive as many new restaurants and stores were built.
Coffee at Mercado de Triana
When my friends visit me, I like to take them to the local fresh market known as Mercado de Triana, where, away from the beaten tourist routes, you can feel the city’s pulse. It is best to visit it in the morning. The market has several bars and restaurants, which are ideal places to drink morning coffee and observe everyday life of the locals. Betis Street offers the most beautiful view of Seville. From there, you can see, among others,
twin towers that somewhat resemble the Giralda. They are located at the most beautiful square in the entire city called the Plaza de España. This place was built in 1929 to commemorate the Ibero-American Exhibition. On the semi-circular, gigantic Spain Square, scenes for such films as “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Star Wars” or “Dictator” were shot.
The sound of castanets and guitar
In Seville, you can enjoy true flamenco, as it is one of the most important Spanish cities where this dance was born. When in Andalusia, you cannot miss a show. Although this art originated in the Triana district, in my opinion, the best performances can be seen in “Casa de la Memoria” at Cuna Street and “Museo del Baile Flamenco” just a few minutes from the cathedral. I have tried to dance flamenco, but unfortunately, it is not easy.
Although fromthe perspective of the viewer it looks like a spontaneous display of emotions, in fact, you need a lot of technical skills. I have seen improvised performances several times in the “Quitapesares” tavern, which is one of the favourite places of the inhabitants of Seville. You should visit it especially on Fridays and Saturdays, when the party lasts almost until dawn.
The sweet smell of orange
Over 30 thousand orange trees bring colour to the city. They can be seen practically everywhere. The fruits ripen primarily in the middle of December, however, the trees look most beautiful in spring, when they bloom with flowers. Their sweet smell is supposed to have anti-depressant properties. “Azahar” (Spanish orange flower) is a frequent ingredient of cosmetics manufactured in Spain.
If you want to bring with you an aromatic souvenir from Seville, it is worth looking for it in the composition of perfume or creams. The fruits themselves are unfortunately bitter and taste like unripe grapefruit. However, this does not mean that they are inedible – they have been used to make marmalades for centuries. I enjoy mixing them with the Payoyo ripened goat cheese, which is produced in the mountainous regions of the neighbouring province of Cádiz.
Spring is not just the time when orange flowers blossom. Besides autumn, it is also the best period to visit southern Spain, as the weather is the best at that time. As summer in Seville is really hot, it is good to plan your trip between April and June or between October and November.
During this period, the temperature oscillates between 23 and 33°C. Spring in Seville is also unique due to the celebrations of Holy Week and a colourful festival called Feria de Abril, usually celebrated two weeks after Easter.
Time for tapas
Some of the most popular appetizers in Seville include slices of exquisite ripened ham, eggplant with honey, tomato cream served cold, and gently cooked, almost melting in your mouth… bull’s tail. One of my favourite places is Taberna El Peregil, where, besides tapas, dessert orange wine is served. The tavern is very small, that is why you need to be careful not to miss it.
The restaurant is located at one of the most-crowded streets of the Santa Cruz district. After dinner, I often go for a drink at the hotel Doña María, which is just a few hundred meters from the tavern. Although you will not find it in a guidebook, I think it is the best place for evening relaxation with amazing views of the Giralda tower.