Oranges and Palaces: Seville, Spain

Royal Alcázar of Seville.

Our December adventure continued as we flew from Lisbon to Seville. Lonely Planet’s Top City of 2018, we wanted a warm, relaxing place to visit between the blizzards in Ohio (where we were prior to Portugal) and the cold weather in Hungary. This was my first trip to Spain and I LOVED so many things that Seville has to offer: beautiful architecture, good food, a ton of walkable green spaces, and the site for Game of Thrones‘s Dorne.

Get ready for all the GoT gifs.

Where are we?

Located in southern Spain, Seville (pronounced Suh-vee-yah) is known for its well preserved historical sites and streets lined with beautiful trees filled with bitter oranges. The city is over 2,200 years old (!!) and the landscape shows the impacts of the many cultures that have influenced the development of the city over time. The earliest signs of humans living in the area dates all the way back to 8th century BC when Seville was still an island (geology that I am not even going to try to explain #knowyourlimitations).

Las Setas (The Mushrooms) was constructed in 2004 and is the largest timber framed structure in the world.

Originally founded by the Romans (and named Hispalis) the area was renamed Ishbiliyya following the Muslim conquest in 712. Muslim rule ended in 1248 after the area was taken over by the Christian Kingdom of Castile under Ferdinand III. The transitions between cultures and religions can be seen in a number of buildings throughout the city.

In 1478, the first tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition took place in Seville. Following Columbus’s expedition to the New World, Spain became a political powerhouse. Due largely to its location on the Quadalquivir River, in 1503 Seville was the only city given the monopoly for trade with the Spanish colonies and taxation of goods (and people) through the port. This was the “Golden Age” for Seville as the economy grew due to the the imports from the Spanish colonies, particularly gold and silver. By the 16th century a number of factors ended Seville’s Golden Age: the Great Plague of Seville killed nearly half of the city’s now booming population, the New World port monopoly was broken when the city of Cadiz was also given access, and the loss of the Spanish colonies in America.

I wanted to share the lesser-known story of the people that were forcibly sent from America to Europe and sold into bondage. The first victims of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade were brought from Cuba and sold in Seville: the indigenous Taíno were not only the first New World natives to meet Christopher Columbus, but also the first of the Caribbean indigenous groups sold as slaves in Seville. The colonization (and resulting genocide) of the New World was profitable for Spain (and Seville).

I know, I know, this is a pretty heavy history introduction. I promise this post has a lot of fun information too, but I also wanted to include these important historical stories as well. They’re important and they matter.

Unofficial fact: Sevillanos and I have the same color–mustard yellow.

Seville’s official motto is N08DO: “No me ha dejado“, which translates to “She (Seville) will not abandon me.” You can see the sentiment across the city.

The Sites:

Canal Walk Near Arsenal:

This beautiful day we walked alongside the canal near the Arsenal neighborhood.
Triana Bridge
Canal de Alfonso XIII
Love this beautiful place! Can you spot the mustard yellow??

Torre del Oro:

The Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold) was built in 1200 by Abu Elda.

Parque de María Luisa:

Again, one of these places where photos simply can’t do enough justice for how gorgeous the landscape is in real life.
The park is Seville’s principal green area and is a short walk from the Guadalquivir River.
The grounds were donated by the Duchess of Montpensier in 1893.
Chris and Karl: “When is Super Smash Brothers being released in Spain? Is there a kebab stand in this park?”

Plaza de España:

I think Heather and I could have spent hours here. Absolutely breathtaking!
Located in Parque de María Louisa, the Plaza was built in 1928.
The Plaza is a mix of Art Deco, Spanish Renaissance Revival, Spanish Baroque Revival, and Neo-Mudéjar architecture.
The walls of the Plaza have tiled alcoves, each representative of different Spanish provinces. These alcoves also contain bookshelves with books on that particular region. Visitors are encouraged to take a book and leave one of their own, so these “free little libraries” continuously change!
The Plaza was also the site for Naboo in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.
Forever one of the best gifs on the internet.

Seville Cathedral:

Seville Cathedral is the largest church in the world. Technically by size it is ranked third, but because the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida (Brazil) and St. Peter’s Basilica (Vatican City) are not seats of bishops, Seville Cathedral tops the list.
The cathedral was first built as a mosque prior to the Christian conquest of Seville. Construction on the grand mosque started by Almohad caliph Abu Yaqub Ysuf in 1172 and was completed in 1198.
Ferdinand III converted Yaqub Yusuf’s mosque into the cathedral for the city.
In 1401, Christian leaders decided to build a bigger cathedral on the site: “Hagamos una Iglesia tan hermosa y tan grandiosa que los que la vieren labrada nos tengan por locos” (“Let us build a church so beautiful and so grand that those who see it finished will take us for mad”).
Construction on the site was delayed until 1434 and finished in 1506.
The La Giralda (bell tower) was previously the main minaret for the mosque. It was converted to the cathedral in 1248 but still maintains many of its Moorish features.

Alcázar de Seville:

The term “Alcázarderives from the Arabic word al-qaṣr” meaning “the castle”. The palace is absolutely beautiful and you can spend hours walking the gardens.
Also the site for Dorne, one of the seven kingdoms of Westeros in HBO’s Game of Thrones. So excited to tour this beautiful site (and let’s be honest, an excuse to find the best Ellaria Sand gifs).
The Christian basilica of Saint Vincent was first built on the plot.
In 712, the Umayyad Caliphate took over Seville and destroyed the basilica to use the site for military work. During the 12th century, under Abbadid rule, the area became the site of Al-Muwarak, a large palace the doubled the size of the space.
Then, under the Almohads, new buildings were constructed on the space for the now residence of the Caliph and the court.
Pictures just don’t do this beautiful place justice.
Following the Castilian conquest of Seville, the Abbadid fortress was destroyed and the palace was for Christian king Peter of Castile built in its place.
The palace and gardens have Christian, Muslim, and Jewish influences.
Today Reales Alcázares de Sevilla is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe; the royal family still uses the top levels as their official residence.
One of my favorite locations I’ve experienced in Europe.
Okay last GoT reference, I promise.

Restaurants & Pubs:

Taqueria La Lupe:

Fresh jalapenos! What a treat after living in eastern Europe for so long.
Homemade tortillas, fresh ingredients, and a solid carnivore and vegetarian menu, Taqueria La Lupe is a great taco spot.

La Jeronima:

A spot for brunch, books, and craft beer! What else do you need in the world?
La Jeronima famously made the top three of my favorite brunches of 2018 list. Stuffed croissant for me and a ham toastie for Chris.

La Tradizionale Pizza:

Great for a late night slice of pizza or empanada, La Tradizionale is an awesome spot for a post dinner snack. Be warned, the lady at the counter will not be easy on your spotty Spanish skills.

Taberna del Dragón Verde:

A bar specializing in all things dragons and swords, we went to Taberna del Dragón Verde after dinner (based solely on the name, obviously) and had a lot of fun.

And, of course, ice cream:

A Heather and Ashlyn staple

Highly recommend Seville! We had so much fun wandering the city and snacking on churros (just don’t eat the oranges!).

That amazing mustard yellow though…

Currently:

Reading: Malawi’s Sisters (Melanie Hatter)

Watching: Game of Thrones (HBO)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s