Spain

Weekend in Andalusia – Day #1: First glance at Seville (Spain)

Palaces that could be the setting for the Arabian Nights tales, orange trees, palm trees, rose bushes, fields of olive trees, sun and blue sky: today we are taking a trip to Seville in Andalusia, in the South of Spain.

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A few weeks ago, we had the chance to spend a long weekend in Andalusia, to escape the dull parisian weather. During this sunny weekend getaway, we walked around the tiny streets of the lovely Seville, tried some delicious tapas, took a train to Granada to visit the majestic city of Alhambra, and then returned to Seville to discover the Alcazar palace, a real oasis of calm under the Andalusia sun. I’m taking you with me in this adventure, here we go!

ARRIVING IN SEVILLE

We woke up very early on that Saturday April, 22nd: our plane to Seville would take off at 8h10 from the Orly airport in Paris! After a two-hour flight, the Parisian grey sky seemed very far away from us. Andalusia welcomed us with 25°C and a sunny blue sky, a really good start! We hopped on a shuttle that took us to the center of Seville within thirty minutes. We dropped our bags at our lovely Airbnb apartment and we were finally ready to go and explore the city!

INFO: The EA bus will take you from the Seville airport to the center in about thirty minutes. It makes several stops on the way (including the Santa Justa train station) and makes a final stop at Plaza de Armas. The ticket costs 4€ and can be bought directly on the bus. The bus stop is very easy to locate at the airport. More info here.

ENJOYING A DELICIOUS MEAL AT EL PATIO SAN ELOY

We started exploring the lovely streets full of colors of Seville but our stomacs quickly reminded us that it was about time to have lunch. We started looking for a place to try the famous spanish tapas. They are said to be quite different from the ones we are used to have in France so we couldn’t wait to find out.

We entered El Patio San Eloy and were immediately immersed in a Spanish atmosphere. Some hams were hanging from the ceiling, some little sandwiches, shrimps, tortillas among other tapas were displayed on the counter, the waiters were running around in a loud and electric atmoshpere. There was no doubt, we were in Spain.

We took a look at the impressive menue and we were surprised to see such a huge variety of tapas. What should we get? We finally decided to have some serano ham sandwiches and a potatoe tortilla. This prooved to be a great choice! It was so delicious that we decided to return several times to El Patio San Eloy during our stay in Seville. We highly recommend this place!

INFO: El Patio San Eloy is located on Calle San Eloy, 9 in Seville. We spent 8€ for twho sandwiches and a tortilla. Find more info here.

STROLLING BY AVENIDA DE LA CONSTITUCION

We continued exploring the city and we were struck by the particular architecture of Seville. We discovered a maze of little streets where it would be easy to get lost. We walked by larger avenues flanked by buildings that reminded us of colonial Mexico with a Moorish touch. We took quick glances at lovely flowered patios…

Seville appeared to us as a whirlwind, loud, crowded, but so beautiful! The herritage of the Moors who inhabited the region from the 7th to the 15th centuries is visible everywhere, giving Seville a lovely oriental touch.

We left the maze of little streets where we were and took the gorgeous pedestrian Avenida de la Constitucion that took us to the cathedral. We were in the historic heart of the city.

FEELING VERY SMALL IN THE BREATHTAKING CATHEDRAL OF SEVILLE

It would be a pity to spend a few days in Seville and not visit the impressive cathedral, the largest in Spain, we found out. From outside, having an overall view of the whole cathedral is quite difficult. The layout of the buildings around the cathedral is such that it is not possible to see it as a whole.

But once inside, we were blown away by the dimensions of this giant of stone that spreads out its tentacles around a central nave. We felt very small as we entered this 42 meter-high nave. We didn’t know where to start with so many rooms to explore.

Then we were stricken by the rich decoration. We had never seen such a quantity of gold in a cathedral! The precious metal was everywhere. We knew that religious buildings in southern Europe have managed to keep their decorations compared to those in France, but the Seville cathedral seems to break all records.

We caught our breath and started exploring the various rooms. In the central nave we discovered an impressive altarpiece entirely covered with gold as well as the monumental tomb of Christopher Columbus. A quick internet research reminded us that even though he was from Genoa in Italy, he had explored the seas on behalf of the kings of Spain. After his death, he was first burried in Valladolid in Spain but his remains were then transfered to Santo-Domingo to respect with his wish, then to La Havana in Cuba when Santo-Domingo became French, and finally returned to Spain when Cuba obtained its independance…

We kept exploring and were particularly impressed by the Treasure room and, again, by the omnipresence of gold, coming straight from Spain’s former Latin America colonies. We discovered several patios and richely decorated rooms.

We went on exploring and walked up to the Giralda, a surprising tower that used to be a minaret! We already knew that the Spanish conquistadors had built their churches on top of aztec pyramids in Mexico. We were not surprised to find out that the cathedral of Seville had been built on a mosque! From the top of the Giralda, some 100 meters above the ground, we had a lovely view on the city.

The Giralda offered a beautiful view on the Alcazar palace that we would explore later during our stay.

Finally, we enjoyed the view on the Orange trees patios.

INFO: We spent 9€ to enter the cathedral. We spent two hours there to visit the various rooms.

STROLLING AROUND PLAZA ESPANA

We walked from the cathedral to the gorgeous plaza de Espana that was built for the International Exhibition of 1929. This plaza is located in the heart of a park which is quite surprising for a plaza but it easily reachable on foot and is definitely worth a visit.

We discovered a beautiful gallery in a semi-circle shape, set between two towers that offer a lovely view on the plaza. A little canal along the gallery gives a venitian touch to Plaza Espana. The balustrades and banks are decorated with gorgeous azulejos. We loved this place and stayed an hour there to explore each and every corner.

At that point, after walking around the city under the hot sevillan sun for several hours, we started to feel tired and decided to take a break in the nearby Maria Luisa park. We enjoyed the freshness of this place as well as the beautiful palm trees.

STROLLING AROUND THE PICTURESQUE SANTA CRUZ AREA

After regaining our strengths, we kept exploring the pretty Seville and headed to Casa de Pilatos, a surprising palace from the 15th century. We left the Maria Luisa park and started walking towards the beautiful Santa Cruz area, the most picturesque area in Seville. On our way, we followed a little path by the Alcazar palace that we could not wait to discover.

We quickly reached the historic heart of Seville and fell under the charm of the little tortuous streets of the Santa Cruz area, its colorful buildings and little churches at every street corner.

VISITING THE GORGEOUS CASA DE PILATOS

As soon as we entered the palace, we were struck by the beauty of this place. At first glance it looked like a moorish palace with chiselled arches and subtle azulejos decorations. But after taking a closer look, it was clear that the Italian Renaissance had had an influence on the architecture of this place. The Greek and Roman busts, the Athena statue and the gardens gave an Italian touch to this place.

These different styles are mixed in harmony, creating a surprising palace, a little gem that can’t be missed. The two gardens are a haven of calm in the center of the city. Orange trees, rose bushes, bougainvilleas give a pleasant scented touch.

We arrived an hour before closing time and the tourists were gone already. We peacefully walked around the place. We took our time to be sure not to miss anything. We explored the various rooms, patios, gardens… We would go in and out without even realizing it…

We absolutely loved this richly decorated palace and its cozy and quiet atmosphere that was much different from the Alcazar or Alhambra.

INFO: we spent 8€ to visit the ground floor of the palace. As we arrived an hour before closing time, it was no longer possible to visit the upper floors. You will find more info here.

We ended that day with a few tapas at Cafe Manolo on Alfalfa square, in the heart of the Santa Cruz area before going for diner to Meson Serranito located a few steps away from our Airbnb. This first day in Andalusia was full of beautiful surprises…

INFO: Our Airbnb was located on Gravina street, very close to Plaza de Armas, in the center of Seville. The apartment was ideally located as main poins of interests were easily reachable by foot. I highly recommend this place! We spent 46€ by night. You will find more info here.

NEXT…

Jour #1 : First glance of the beautiful city of Seville

Jours #2 & 3 : Granada and the Alhambra

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