Next up on the trip itinerary is a journey to Seville, a city in the south of Spain and the capital of Andalusia. From Nerja by car it is about a 3 hour drive. Our driver meets us at our Nerja hotel at 9:45 for the journey south (and west). The ride was pleasant as the mountains around Malaga gave way to the rolling hills of Andalusia.
We arrived at the hotel Gran Melia Colon around 12:30. This beautiful hotel is in the heart of Seville’s shopping area. It also provided an excellent jumping off point for our treks around the city.
If there was one word to describe Seville, it would be: “hot”. Seville is in the southern part of the country, so naturally warmer here. It is also an hour from the ocean, so unlike Nerja, there are no cool breezes to combat the temperature. Yet over the two thousand years of the city’s existence, the residents have learned to adapt. The architecture and activity of the city is designed to combat the heat. Seville has narrow streets with high building walls, limiting the hot rays of direct sunlight on the streets. In addition, there is a strong emphasis on building colors like white or yellow to reflect the sun and not absorb the heat.
During the hottest part of the day Seville has a siesta, typically sometime between 2 and 4 pm. After 6 pm the streets become alive and active again, with shops open and streets getting crowded with pedestrians. Dinner in the city starts about 9 pm or later. Seville, like the rest of Spain, loves tapas dinners with friends and family.
Tour of the City
After getting settled in our hotel, we met our guide Marquez at 4 pm to explore the city. Our journey took us through the city center, the “old town” of Seville and the heart of the city’s activities. Small shops, tapas bars and other restaurants dominate the area.
The Seville Cathedral
Dominating the skyline of the city is the tower of the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, better known as the Seville Cathedral. It is the largest Gothic cathedral and one of the largest in the world.
Built on the site of a Muslim mosque, the cathedral has several architecture features of Moorish influence. A prime example of this can be found in the Giralda, the bell tower of the cathedral. The Giralda is really the minaret of the mosque, completed in 1198, with distinct Muslim features in the windows and archways. While many elements of the cathedral were destroyed by earthquakes during the centuries, the Giralda has survived.
Construction on the cathedral began in 1401 and was largely completed by 1575. The cathedral has the tomb of Christopher Columbus, “Discoverer” of the New World. His remains were moved to the Cathedral from Cuba in 1898 when Cuba became independent after the Spanish-American War.
Alcazar (Palace) of Seville
Near the cathedral is the Alcazar, a palace originally built by the Moors. While not as impressive as Alhambra, it is well maintained through the centuries. In fact, some parts are still in use by the royal family of Spain. Alcazar follows a similar historical pattern as many other landmarks in this part of Spain. The Moors were the first to build a palace here. As a result, the palace has a foundation with Arabic design. Once the Spanish captured Seville from the Moors, they added their own elements. Later, in the mid 1200s Alfonso X of Castile used the space of the main building to build the Gothic Palace. In the 16th century parts of the palace were updated with an Italian Renaissance style design.
Next to the palace is an impressive garden. While created primarily for their beauty, the gardens also supplied food and fresh water for the palace residents. This was an important military function during the times of conflict in the city. With typical Moorish influence, there are water channels, fountains and pools for the palace inhabitants and guests to enjoy. In addition, in the 16th century the gardens were updated by the Spanish monarchy to an Italian garden design.
Photos from Seville Tour