Segments of Seville, Spain. Nov 10, 2019 17:15:44 GMT
Post by lugg on Nov 10, 2019 17:15:44 GMT
Home of bitter oranges grown on thousands of trees around the city and despite the title I have to confess that despite being aware of them, I was remiss in taking detailed images of them. Anyway for the record the fruits were mostly unripe still.
Here are a few “segments” of Seville as I experienced it. Disclaimer – I was bowled over by this city and so will probably wax lyrical. Apologies in advance.
I recently spent a few days here with my sister. I have wanted to visit Seville for a long time and I was not disappointed in any way. A really lovely city, lots to do and some amazing sights mixed up with a great vibe. Good bars, food always excellent and (in October) lovely, almost perfect, weather with cool nights and mornings and daytime temps of about 25 C.
We had an extremely early start to catch our low cost flight from an airport about 2 hours away from home. Left home at 2am but the up-side was that we were in Seville by 10 am. No clues from aloft about the city except that it was going to be much flatter than I had imagined.
We had a coffee close to our apartment, met our landlady and dropped off our luggage. Our house is just visible white building 3 to the left of the vodaphone shop.
We decided to have a late breakfast (delicious tostadas with tomatoes and Iberian ham, coffee and orange juice) then we climbed onto a tourist bus with an audio guide to get our bearings. Although it was quite expensive ( I think about 20 euros ?) it actually was great in helping us to get to know the general layout of the city and cement or change our ideas about what we wanted to see and do over the next few days. The price included transport on the bus for 48 hours plus free entry to some museums and walking tours so we could have got more value out of it if we had been inclined to do so.
So here are a few introductory images from the tourist bus;
Some of the buildings below were built for Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibero-American_Exposition_of_1929
The spired buildings were built as the Spanish part of the exhibition and are located in Plaza Espana – more about that later in the report.
Seville is split by the River Guadalquivir, the old historic town on one side and Triana opposite. The river itself is immense and is still navigable from Cadiz to Seville, with a huge port in the city itself. Crossing over the river led us to Triana and La Cartuja.
Triana looked like a lovely place to explore; particularly I would have liked to have seen the ceramics outlets but sadly not for us this time.
Not all buildings are old of course and this marmite tower (Torre Sevilla) dominates the city skyline in parts of the city. It is built on the site of another large exhibition in La Cartuja which took place in 1992. Although it was interesting to see and is probably worthy of exploration it was one part of the city that did not demand this of me.
Testing out the zoom on my new camera – not too shabby,
Heading back over the river a glimpse of the remnants of the city walls,
Some of the flora and fauna seen from the bus,
So pleased to see this beauty in flower, my favourite tree,
… and discovered the source of the squawking we had heard lots of times since our arrival.
So after the bus tour it was time to check in properly at the house then time for a snooze, soak and then out to enjoy our first selection of tapas for dinner.
A few of our home for the next few days; an ancient Andalusian house, typically tall and narrow with an Andalusian patio letting light in through its 4 floors, located in a residential area with some great bars and restaurants.
and the icing on the cake…a hot tub on the roof terrace
In no particular order some of the highlights of our next few days.
The Real Alcazar of Sevilla.
It probably needs no introduction but here is a potted summary. Building of this palace began in the 1360s and re-design / expansion / improvement continued for about 200 years or so, on the site of a Muslim fortress which in turn was built on a Visigoth basilica. It is the oldest royal palace in Europe that still in use and became a world heritage site in 1987.
Although I had heard and vaguely understood the term, Mudéjar, it was brought to life during my visit.
In architecture Mudéjar style does not refer to a distinct architectural style but to the application of traditional Islamic ornamental and decorative elements to Christian Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance architectural styles, mostly taking place in Spain in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. The Alcázar of Seville is considered one of the greatest surviving examples of Mudéjar Gothic and Mudéjar Renaissance architecture.
The term Mudejar also applies to a distinct group of people; Muslims / Moors who remained in Iberia in the late medieval period despite the Christian reconquest. For a time the Moors lived peacefully in Spain and Portugal along with the Jews in a period known as La Convivencia (the Coexistence), sharing knowledge and styles of art. It was the settled Moors craftsmanship that helped develop the Alcazar and other similar buildings in Iberia.
Anyway back to the practicalities of here and now. It is one of the most visited sites in Seville, probably even more so now Game of Thrones fans also flock to see it. So we were smug that we had pre-booked our tickets, but, unfortunately, not as far in advance as was needed in order to see the Royal Apartments.
On arrival we were so glad we had pre booked, the queues were long otherwise. The Alcazar is very close to the cathedral and consequently you have to pass it, as we made our way there, we were bowled over, just stunning views wherever/ whichever way we looked.
Of course, as ever, I gave horse drawn carriages a miss, although to be fair the condition of most horses looked better than those in some other cities I have visited. Let us hope they are not expected to pull tourists around in the height of the summer heat.
Entry to the palace is at the Lions gate. Note the queues. Probably even more extensive due to the filming of a few episodes of the Game of Thrones
Anyway our timed tickets were for 11.30 but we chanced our luck and were straight in at 11.15.
We had an audio guide and a map and at first we dutifully followed in the order suggested – I think we got to about No 6 / 7 then gave up and wandered at will. Much more satisfying.
We were directed first through the Sala de la Justica which leads to the Patio del Yeso. It was rammed with people so getting photos was not easy plus you cannot enter the patio just view through the window.
The patio itself retains some of the earlier 12th century Almohad palace (Moroccan invaders)
Outside again and heading for the Casa de la Contratacion, a site founded by the Spanish monarchs in 1503 for seafaring and scientific research. This area includes a number of meeting rooms, Admirals Hall and a chapel)most of which had artwork on display. Most of the paintings held no interest for me although I am sure they were of significant importance but I enjoyed looking at a display of beautiful fans,
…and this painting which is of the inauguration of the 1929 Iberio-American exhibition by King Alfonso X111
The Admiral's room has embroidered wall-hangings with the coats-of-arms of the Admirals of Castile. I failed to get a photo of Columbus’ coat of arms.
Replica of the Santa Maria one of the Columbus ships
Back outside to admire the façade and then into the Palacio Del Rey Don Pedro the heart of the Alcazar; which is just stunning.
Just above the windows you can see a blue and white tiled area that is oblong in shape. Around it is an inscription written in gothic Arabic symbols which you can make out when you enlarge the photo – these say,
“the very tall and very noble and very powerful and very conquering Don Pedro by the grace of God, King of Castile and Leon, sent these fortresses and these palaces and these covers that was dated in the era of one million and four hundred and two years. "
It is hard to know what direction to look in first but the ceilings in all the rooms definitely merit attention.
A few other pictures of the various rooms within the palace.
Time for some fresh air so we wandered out to explore the gardens. What a treat and a surprise to me, I had no idea that the gardens are so expansive. They include the largest late medieval garden in Europe, but have been developed in various styles of the years including renaissance and 19/ 20th century changes. We barely scratched the surface.
The oldest spaces are in and around the palace. Much of the planting is of palm, cypress, myrtle, mulberries, magnolia, orange and lemon trees. Even the paths are often beautiful. Water features heavily in many of the areas. I will let the photos mostly do the talking.
The Garden of the Pond (Jardín Del Estanque), with a large pond, known as the Pond of Mercury. At the centre of the pond is a small fountain with a statue of Mercury. Behind is a gallery - the Galeria Del Grutesco - which was once part of the original Moorish palace.
From the gallery there are good views on either side of some of the other gardens;
Thoroughly satisfied we left the Alcazar and headed home for a siesta, Cava in the hot tub and out to see the sunset before another evening of great food and wine.
Would I visit again? Absolutely, so much we did not see and I would love to see the Kings apartments next time. I think booking at least a couple of months ahead may be the only option. (I tried about 3 weeks prior to our visit but no joy) Of course if the royal family are staying there , no chance.
Next a modern addition to Sevilla– The Metropol Parasol , or, more commonly, Las Setas ( mushrooms) of Sevilla
This structure was just a few minutes from our apartment and we first walked passed it as we walked to the Alcazar. First thoughts were that this huge modern structure was completely mis- matched and misplaced within Plaza Encarnacion. I guess it is a marmite attraction but certainly it is completely believable that it has rejuvenated what had become a run -down area over the preceding decades.
Built by a German architect who apparently took his inspiration from the cathedral it was completed in 2011 and is made up of several levels with the top level giving fantastic views over the city. Underneath is a small Roman museum. The parasols, which measure 150x70m in total, took six years to build, and cost a reported 123 million euros. Much of the structure is made of wood
It is not hard to understand why it has become known as Las Setas.
As I walked past it several times it grew on me and I was finally won over when I visited the top level at sunset. Entry to the top level is a bargain 3 euros but free if you are a resident of the city. I was very lucky that the sunset was so lovely but maybe this is not that unusual ?
Maybe not that inspiring at this point ?
As darkness fell, the important buildings were lit up,
The cathedral and the La Iglesia Colegial del Divino Salvador (more of the latter to come.)
Back at street level the building is lit at night
Anyway it was time for food and we opted for a tapas place close to Las Setas that looked very ordinary , no menu but was frequented by locals and enjoyed the most amazing selection including the best sardines I have ever eaten. Then back to a bar we had visited the previous evening close to our apartment with a lovely owner. Entertainment was watching the customers of a very hip bar opposite.
… We finally worked out why the smell outside our bar was not so good at times. I love stinky cheese but that pile looked as if it had been there for many years.
More to follow.