Sevilla – Quintessential Spain

From Madrid, we again traveled comfortably by Ave Train to Seville Santa Justa station. We decided that we would get our exercise by walking to the hotel despite it being a 45 minute trek. We took in the sights of Sevilla life as we walked.

Sevilla (Seville) is Spain’s forth largest city and is known to offer both great sights and quaint Spanish charm. Our hotel, the Monte Triana, is located in Triana. This area was traditionally on the “wrong side of the river”, but is now known as one of the most colourful, emerging neighbourhoods of Sevilla. The architecture in the area is very ornate, with classic 19th century facades featuring fine ironwork and colourful tiles.

Once checked into our excellent rooms, food and drink was a priority. The desk staff recommended a local tavern, where we enjoyed tapas and drinks.

The Guadalquivir River separates Triana from the main parts of Sevilla. There are lovely walkways on each side of the river. Rowers, individual and teams, are active on the water, in both the daytime and evening hours.

The main building of the Universidad de Sevilla was the largest industrial building in the world at the time and remained a tobacco factory until the 1950s. This beautiful building is also the setting for the renowned opera, Carmen. Today, it houses two of the university’s faculties: the School of Literature and Philosophy, and the School of Geography and History.

A charming aspect of Sevilla (actually, of all of the Spanish cities we visited) is the abundance of squares, surrounded by beautiful architecture and fountains, where one can sit and enjoy the wonder of it all!

The Catedral de Sevilla is the third largest church in Europe (although the exact determination of order of size varies from source to source) and the largest Gothic church in the world. It was finished in1528. We admired the exterior from all sides, but didn’t visit the interior (something for a return trip; after all, we have been inside both St Peter’s and St Paul’s, which are considered by many sources to be the top two).

We did visit a number of other churches in Sevilla – the extravagant beauty of each was quite overwhelming!

Capilla de los Marineros (the Chapel of the Sailors) in the Triana neighbourhood is home to the Brotherhood of Hope of Triana. The church was built in 1759 and houses the beloved Virgin statue called Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza de Triana. In Sevilla, it is customary to favor a specific Virgin Mary – the top two are this one and the Virgin de la Macarena.

Triana’s Church of Santa Ana is the oldest parish church in Sevilla, dating back to the 13th century. 

The Iglesia de la Santa Maria Magdalena is a baroque church built in 1691-1709, above a medieval church built after the Christian conquest of the city in 1248.

The Parque de María Luisa (María Luisa Park) is a public park that stretches along the river. It is Sevilla’s principal green area. Most of the grounds in the park were formerly the gardens of the Palace of San Telmo, which were donated to the city of Seville in 1893 by the Infanta Luisa Fernanda for use as a public park. The gardens were rearranged into their present shape for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 (World’s Fair) which was held partly within the park.

Numerous buildings were constructed in and around the park for the exhibition in a mix of 1920’s Art Deco and mock Mudejar. Many of them were extravagant in their decor.

The Plaza de España was the Spanish Pavilion, built to showcase Spain’s industry and technology exhibits. The complex is a huge half-circle with buildings continually running around the edge accessible over the moat by numerous beautiful bridges. In the centre is a large fountain. By the walls of the plaza are many tiled alcoves, each representing a different province of Spain. Today, the plaza buildings are mainly used for government offices and the square is splendid for people-watching. We were pleased to watch a demonstration of Flamenco dancing as we felt we needed to see that in Spain, but didn’t really want to attend a full show!

The Macarena neighbourhood is located next to the best surviving length of Sevilla’s old walls, which were built by the Moors in the 12th century to (unsuccessfully) keep the Christian’s out. And yes, the song now stuck In your head did originate from this area!

The Basilica de la Macarena was built in 1949 to give a home to the statue of the Virgen de la Macarena (as mentioned above, one of Sevilla’s top two). The Puerta de la Macarena, also known as Arco de la Macarena, is one of the only three city gates that remain today. The gate was part of an extension made by the Sultan Ali ibn Yusuf in the 12th century, and its present appearance is the result of a remodeling carried out between the years 1723 and 1795, in which the Islamic architectural elements were replaced by the classicist air which presents today. It was the gate used by the kings who visited for the first time the city.

Some of Spain’s most intense bullfighting occurs in Sevilla’s 14,000 seat bullring, Plaza de Torres. We had no interest in attending one of the approximately 45 fights (professional and novices) that take place each year.

The Universal Exposition of Seville (Expo ’92) took place from Monday, April 20 to Monday, October 12, 1992 on the Isla de la Cartuj. The theme for the Expo was “The Age of Discovery”, celebrating the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus reaching the Americas after launching from Seville’s port, and over 100 countries were represented.

At the conclusion of the Expo, many of the Pavilions were dismantled, and today the site is divided between a research and development park called Cartuja 93 and a theme park called Isla Màgica, the ‘Magic Island’, which also hosts the popular Pavilion of Spain. The Government of Canada donated the Canadian Pavilion for use as a new trade school.

The Mercado de Triana offers a joyful cacophony of fruit, vegetable, meat, fish and spice stalls built on the sit of an old castle. On our morning visit, the local people were busily purchasing their provisions and we were perhaps the only tourists on site. It was great!

The food and drinks of Sevilla did not disappoint – from coffee in a plaza to tapas or paella in a park, it was all so full of flavour and thoroughly enjoyable.

Sevilla was a great city to visit – so many beautiful sights to see and enjoy. Just walking down the streets is like visiting a museum of Spanish history. It is definitely on the list of places that we would love to revisit!


Bev & Harvey

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