While in Seville, we stayed at an Airbnb. Our hostess, Maria, owns a large home where she rents a couple private rooms. She also allowed us to park our motorcycling securely inside her gated yard. This adventure was going to be on foot!
This was our 8 km (5 mile) walking route through the various parks, city center, and some attractions of Seville. We started in the late morning and walked until 3 PM before returning to our Airbnb for a siesta. That evening we walked to the Flamenco performance and then enjoyed a evening stroll back through the Parque de María Luisa.
Parque de María Luisa
Although the temperatures were pretty hot – 35°C (95°F), the shade of the many trees made walking in the park pretty comfortable.
Seville has a long history starting with the Roman Empire in the the 2nd century where it was originally named Hispalis. During the Islamic conquests of the early 8th century, the city fell to the Abbādid dynasty where it was renamed Ixvillia.
The Moorish styling and architecture comes from over 500 years of Muslim occupation and prosperity from the 8th to the 13th centuries.
The park is decorated with various statutes and sculptures. Some of reminiscent of Roman and Moorish influences. Some are more modern like this beautifully colored bird bath fountain.
Many couples and families were enjoying these horse drawn carriage rides around the park.
There weren’t many people outside this morning. With the last three months of strict quarantine measures that were in place in Spain, I expected everyone to be outside enjoying the fresh air and gardens.
Getting around Seville is pretty easy with well marked signs in both English and Spanish.
Plaza de España
The highlight of visiting the Parque de María Luisa, was seeing the Plaza de España.
Although this large building, flanked by two towers, looks like it was built hundreds of years ago, it is relatively new. All of this was built in 1928 for the Iberto-American World Fair Exposition.
The designer, Aníbal González, combined a mix of styles to include: Art Deco, Spanish Renaissance, Spanish Baroque, and Neo-Mudéjar styles into the structures.
This is a Saturday morning and there are hardly any people around. A great time to snap some pictures of the beautiful architecture.
The Moorish influences and color of the tile work are some of my favorite parts of the Plaza de España.
Like most big cities, pigeons have made their homes here, coexisting with humans for thousands of years. Some find them annoying but I find their association with cities and humans to be interesting.
There are tiled alcoves built around the plaza, each representing the 50 different provinces of Spain. Guess which one is our favorite?
It’s our favorite because we have some amazing amigos there that we had the pleasure of staying with for 3 months during the COVID-19 quarantine. Friends for life!
Catedral de Sevilla
Our walking tour continued north where we reached the famous Catedral de Santa María de la Sede (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See). Unfortunately, most of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is closed unless you have pre-purchased tickets.
The Giralda, or bell tower, stands prominently above the city at 105 m (343 ft). The tower was completed in 1198 as part of the mosque that stood on the site under Muslim rule.
The towers was converted into a bell tower for the cathedral after the Reconquista and a statue was installed on top in 1568 to represent the triumph of the Christian faith.
The main chapel and altar were closed to the public without tickets, but we did get to walk inside and see some of the incredible grandness of one of the largest cathedrals in the world – second only to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City!
Hindsight, I wished we had purchased tickets to see this amazing cathedral – I feel it would have been worth the €10 price of admission. Unfortunately the tourist season was back in full swing and tickets were already sold out on the Saturday we were visiting.
The entrance door to the garden with incredibly detailed Arabic calligraphy carved into brass. This was all carved 300 years before Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas!
Speaking of Columbus – He is buried inside the cathedral in a ornate tomb with four statues that represent the four kingdoms of Spain during the explorer’s lifetime. This too is only viewable for ticket holders.
Although our time was short walking around the Seville Cathedral it made us want to learn more about this historical and amazing part of Spanish history.
Paseo Del Rio Guadalquivir
Our walking tour continued north along the boardwalk of the Canal de Alfonso XIII where we enjoyed the quieter side of Seville away from the city center.
From the Puente de Triana (Triana Bridge), we enjoyed watching the boats pass underneath us.
A memorial to Spanish musician, Antonio Mairena (1909–1983), who dedicated much of his life to preserving the history of a lost style of Flamenco.
This is the world we live in now – masks and all. Who knew that masks would be the fashion trend of 2020?
Las Setas De Sevilla
I’m a huge fan of modern architecture. If I could re-write my young adulthood, I think I would have studied architecture and then spend my life making the world more beautiful by creating minimalist businesses and homes.
When I first saw pictures of Metropol Parasol I was mesmerized by how light and natural it looked despite being the world’s largest wooden structure.
The structure, designed by German architect Jürgen Mayer, covers an entire block and measures 150 by 70 meters (490 by 230 ft).
For a small fee of €5, you can walk among the rooftop walkways and enjoy the wonderful surrounding views of Seville.
The structure is made from mostly birch wood, imported from Finland, and took builders 6 years to complete.
The sweeping curves and open space is quite beautiful to behold.
The project ended up costing twice and much as estimated and was delayed by four years. The locals now call the structure Las Setas de le Encarnación (Incarnation’s mushrooms).
The Streets of Seville
We continued south along the shopping districts where we enjoyed taking some pictures of some street art. Most of the street are is limited to the paintings on the metal garage doors that cover the entrances to various shops.
I like the primary colors and how spray paint was used to emulate the patterns of painted ceramic tiles.
An smiling triple-scooped ice cream cone riding a bicycle while happily melting in the Spanish sun. What’s not to love about this?
A beautiful mural purposely painted within the elegant stucco archway of a wall.
We had an appointment to view a Night of Flamenco show at 7PM so we made our way past the Giralda of the Seville Cathedral before arriving at our entertainment for the evening.
Tablao Alvarez Quintero
I’ve got to come clean. Before visiting southern Spain I didn’t know much of anything about flamenco. I basically knew it was a kind of dance and I would have miss-spelled it “Flamingo Dancing”. What I came to discover is that flamenco is much more than dancing and it has a long standing tradition that originated in the region of Andalusia.
After arriving at the doorway, we we escorted to a small room and stage where chairs were placed two meters (6 ft) away from each other due to social distancing requirements. We were instructed that we would have to keep our masks on for the entire duration of the show. A small price to pay for enjoying a bit of cultural history of Spain.
Flamenco is made up of four elements, Cante (Voice), Baile (Dance), Toque (Guitar), and the Jaleo, which roughly translates to “hell raising” and involves the handclapping, foot stomping, and shouts of encouragement.
Our guitarist started us with a beautiful opening song that put everyone at ease. This is personally my favorite part of flamenco.
The second number included the singer and the guitarist performing together. They filled the room with energy and did some improvising – much like jazz musicians.
The crowd became hushed as the dancer approached the stage. The song started out slow but within minutes there was the loud clapping and stomping of feet to the rhythmic sounds of flamenco.
It was especially enjoyable watching the connection that each seemed to have for each other as they performed.
If I were to describe flamenco I would use the words spontaneous, emotional, energetic, and traditional. I definitely left that one-hour performance with a better understanding of flamenco.
An Evening Walk at Plaza de España
It was now well past sunset as we walked back to our Airbnb located near the Parque de María Luisa.
As we casually walked past the Plaza de España, we reflected on our time here in Spain. Although the coronavirus had drastically changed our travel plans for 2020, it hasn’t been all that bad. The travel ban forced us to slow down and appreciate the various cultures, history, and landscapes of the diverse country of Spain.
Next Blog Post
The Muelle de las Carabelas is the launch site for what is arguably the most important voyage of discovery for Europe – The first voyage of the Italian explorer and navigator, Christopher Columbus.
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