Just a hop and a skip from Africa, Seville sits near the southern tip of Spain. The Moors lived in this region until the Spanish Catholics forced them out in 1492 after many years of fighting. The resulting blend of Moorish and Spanish architecture, with its distinctive patterns and bold colors, creates a city like no other.
We walk around in awe. Flamenco dancers clap, the sun burns our faces, we sit down for our seventh round of tapas.
We come across a grand old building with a fountain in the courtyard. It must be some kind of palace, I think to myself, perhaps inhabited by a reclusive Spanish aristocrat. Nope, totally wrong, it’s the University of Seville. I walk past approximately 17 students taking selfies. People are actually allowed to study here. I fleetingly wonder if I should apply for a course here… then realize I’d actually have to study!
That evening, we visit a shabby but charming cafe and restaurant, Taberna Alvaro Peregil, where every review raves about the orange wine. We are suspicious, “What shade of orange?” we ask each other with concern. It sounds like it could be some dystopian Fanta-rosé blend from hell. Two glasses of dark orange liquid are placed on the table. We take a sip and stare at each other in shock. It’s the most delicious wine of all time (maybe). It tastes like a summer Christmas. We down two more rounds and suddenly panic that perhaps this very rare wine is blowing our budget. We ask for the bill and to our huge surprise each glass of this magical elixir is just 1€50 (£1.30)! We order a bottle (7€).
You’d have to be pretty visually-impaired not to notice the giant church in the centre of Seville. It’s technically the biggest church in the world – all the larger ones are cathedrals. It’s vast and intricate.
We were surprised to find that Christopher Columbus, or “Cristóbal Colón” in Spanish, is buried here. The man who famously thought he’d “discovered” India, but had in fact “discovered” America.
For lunch, we head across the Triana bridge and wander through the brightly-coloured streets. It’s quieter this side of the river. Gypsies used to live here as they weren’t allowed inside the city walls.
Now known for its flamenco and ceramics, the streets have a bohemian spirit. Symbolising this, we stumble across a tapas bar in one of the backstreets called Las Golondrinas. It’s full of locals and totally hidden from the main path. It’s buzzy and busy. The tapas is good, quick to arrive and cheap.
If you head back along the bridge towards the centre, on your right is an ice-cream shop called E Bio Pure Heladería. The best ice-cream in Spain, I’d say. Best of all, if milk doesn’t agree with you, they do dairy-free ice-cream made with rice milk instead. I highly recommend the cinnamon & ginger scoop.
If you only have time for one tourist-y thing in Seville, head straight to the Alcazar. A Moorish palace that was around in some form from as early as 712AD, and still part-lived in by the current Spanish monarchy, it has a perfect beauty that I’ve never seen before in any European city.
The internet is full of photos of the Alcazar, so instead I’ll show you a photo of my favorite part: the bath beneath the palace – a section that’s very easy to miss. Through a short corridor, this dimly-lit bath is eerie and peaceful. Make sure you also check out the immaculately-designed gardens, particularly if you like peacocks.
On our final night, we walk back to the apartment and need to buy a bottle of water. We stop along a street with various bars, shops and lots of outdoor seating. We walk up to what from the outside looks like a corner shop. We stop in our tracks. This is not a corner shop. This is Bodeguita Jerez. Look inside and this is what you’ll find:
Towers of cheese. Delicious sherry. Chaotic but somehow perfectly in order. A mad but friendly owner who refused to be in my photo. Just one of the endless gems you’ll discover in this fabulous region of Spain.