Our travels in Spain concluded with a trip to Seville located in the southwestern Iberian peninsula on the Guadalquivir River.
Seville is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and is approximately 2,200 years old. The many civilizations that ruled the area over its history left the region with a distinct character, and its large and well-preserved historical center, where we stayed, is rich in reminders of that past.
Over five days we were able to explore the city on foot and visit some of the iconic remnants of the cultures that shaped the city. Over two millennia, the Visigoths, Romans, Moors and Christians shaped and reshaped the region. That diversity created the Seville of today and is reflected in its distinct cuisine as well as iconic structures like the Seville Cathedral and the adjacent Royal Alcazar, which were registered in 1987 by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
During our visit to Seville we took the advice of locals to “get lost” in the maze of narrow streets as well as visiting the community of Triana with its heritage of tile making and the Museum of Fine Arts with its wonderful collection of important Spanish artists. While we enjoyed all of Seville’s charms, it was the cuisine and a guided trip to the Royal Alcazar that were the highlights of the visit.
Over several nights we explored local restaurants that featured a wonderful combination of dishes that, combined with their on-signature flavor and ambiance, left a memorable impression.
We visited the Alcazar with a local guide, Andres, who provided us with a delightful introduction to the amazing history and architecture of the Palace. It’s one of the best places to experience the remarkable craftsmanship of the Moors, most of which was replaced by the Christians that captured the city in the 13th century. The Alcazar suffered some of the same fate but fortunately, much of the ornate architecture and art of the Moors was preserved thanks to Peter of Castile, a Spanish king who valued its remarkable design elements. During the tour, Andres provided an engaging, informational and lighthearted look at the Alcazar and its large ornate gardens.
Adjacent to the Alcazar is the Seville Cathedral with its Giralda tower where the hearty explorer can get the best views of the city. The cathedral is the third-largest church and largest Gothic structure in the world. The bell tower was built as the minaret for the Great Mosque of Seville and a renaissance style top was added by the Catholics after the Muslims were expelled from the city.
Our trip to Spain was one of the rare excursions where our expectations were exceeded. The combination of culture, resplendent landscapes, cuisine and the warmth of the people created the kind of memorable experience one is eager to share. Spain is a vibrant modern culture that is moving into the future while protecting its remarkable history.