From Lisbon we made our way back to Spain and specifically to Seville, or as the locals call it Sevilla. Our original plan was to spend a day before heading out to Malaga to hike the Caminito del Rey, billed as one of the world’s scariest hikes. However, when we couldn’t secure reservations for the hike, we opted to stay put and choose to more thoroughly explore scintillating Sevilla.

The mysterious city of patterned tile, tapas and serious fan collections!

the mysterious city of patterned tile, tapas and serious fan collections!

Seville has a population of around 700 thousand. Add in the metro area and there’s about 1.5 million, making it the fourth largest city in Spain. Seville is approximately 2200 years old and, according to legends, its mythological founder is Hercules.

This statute of Hercules beating the Centaur Nessus is located outside the Uffizi Gallery in Florence

The Plaza de Espana, or Spain Square, is located near the city center (there are multiple Plaza de Espana’s in Spain). The plaza was built for the 1929 World Fair and we found it both picturesque and functional. We strolled around the grounds and enjoyed the different architecture. When the afternoon temperatures left us dripping, we picked up a pretty fan from one of the many vendors in a futile attempt to keep the heat at bay.

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the plaza is massive we couldn’t get back far enough to get it all in

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built in a semi-circle it has its own moat

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at the base between the columns each province of Spain is represented with decorated tiles (example below)

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Registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Moorish Kings originally developed the Real Alcazar (the Royal Palace). Over the years other monarchs kept expanding the palace resulting in its diverse and competing architectural styles. The top floor is still used occasionally by the Spanish Royal Family making the Alcazar the oldest Royal Palace still in use in Europe. The architecture is absolutely stunning and the tile work is exceptional.

The entrance looks medieval.......

the entrance looks medieval…….

But the palace looks modern.

… seemingly making the palace look more modern

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The architecture is fascinating.

a prime example of the fascinating architecture

Inside and out

inside and out a wow from any vantage point

The tile-work and patterns were mesmerizing.

the tile-work and patterns are mesmerizing

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We found the gardens equally enchanting and the hours slipped away like minutes.

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and then there were the gardens!

and then there were the gardens!

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Seville Cathedral is the largest gothic cathedral and the third largest church in the world. The size of the church is beyond imagination and we weren’t surprised to learn that they have had issues with the roof: once due to construction; and, another time because of an earthquake. We were able to climb the bell tower, the Giralda, for some amazing views of the city. Lo and behold the tomb of Christopher Columbus sits on the main floor. You wouldn’t believe how many people stopped to take selfies, shocking!

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the play of light dances on the floor of the cathedral

The tomb of Christopher Columbus

the tomb of Christopher Columbus

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Spain is the birthplace of tapas, so naturally we indulged ourselves. While the origin of the tapa is surely Spain, its history is clouded. Three popular theories: King Alfonso X ordered bars to serve a small portion of food with every drink for health reasons; some believe that a small portion of food on a plate accompanied each glass of wine so that it may be placed on top of the glass to keep the flies out; or, King Phillipe III passed a law to serve food along with each drink to help slow drunkenness and lewd behavior. Interesting!

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Last but not least we went to a dinner show at the Tablao Flamenco El Arenal, considered one of the best and most authentic Flamenco bars in the world. We weren’t permitted to take pictures inside, but suffice it to say it was a grand evening of gypsy culture intricately choreographed with hard core music and flamboyant dance. Bravo!!!

The Tablao Flamenco El Arenal we were right next to the stage.

The Tablao Flamenco El Arenal we were right next to the stage.

In typical American fashion, a fine finish with a beer and a burger!

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no tapas here, but no flies either …. and for those of us missing beef this place had a pretty decent burger

Next Stop: Madrid

Visited May 2015.