Joy DoddsMediterranean MusingsSevillaSevilleSpain

first_imgJoy DoddsMediterranean MusingsSevillaSevilleSpain Read all of JOY DODDS’ previous Mediterranean Musings – from Italy to Spain, and including gastronomic delights …IMAGE: View from Hotel Europa of narrow streets and wrought iron balconies, many enclosed.It would be so easy to spend a month exploring Andalucia, Spain’s southernmost Mediterranean region, taking in historic cities such as the capital Sevilla, Granada and Cordoba that were part of what the Muslim invaders referred to as Al-Andalus. History aside, there’s a wealth of scenic beauty from the snow-capped Sierra Nevada south-east of Granada to the little-known Costa de la Luz beaches along the Atlantic seaboard.Looking skywards at Hotel Europa’s decorative ironworkOur target was Sevilla, arriving by fast AVE train at Santa Justa Station after a fascinating 2½ hour rail journey from Madrid through Castilla-La Mancha. Heading for the historic district near the Rio Guadalquivir, an area of narrow cobbled alleys and small plazas called El Arenal, we chose the Hotel Europa near Plaza de San Francisco, located in an old building with fascinating wrought ironwork and a family-style environment – perfect!Within walking distance were all the city’s highlights including the Alcázar royal palace-fortress with its stunning arches and tiles in Patio de la Doncellas and the giant Catedral Giralda (originally a mosque) with its 90m-high minaret and Christian additions. The tomb of Christopher Columbus and the world’s largest altarpiece are two of many treasures found inside this Gothic masterpiece. Archivo de Indias (documenting Spain’s American empire) makes the city’s third World Heritage Site.Then there’s the Golden Tower (Torre del Oro), a 13th century Muslim watchtower and Plaza Salvador, a forum during Roman times with a few columns remaining.Sevilla street view with La Giralda cathedral tower in the distanceMore recent – 1758 in fact – is the very grand bullring, Plaza de Toros La Maestranza, a Baroque monument perched on the river bank which includes a bullfighting art collection While I am not in favour of the “sport”, many Spaniards are and bullfights are staged from Easter to October in Sevilla. Other sights include the Museo de Bellas Artes and many churches such as Iglesia de la Anunciación, Triana, Santa Ana and El Salvador, all within easy reach.Looking towards Plaza de Toros bullring on the Rio GuadalquivirSettled by the Romans. Sevilla oozes history, becoming an obvious target for the Muslim invaders, who made it their capital from 1040-to 1248. Christian monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella finally took back Spain in the 15th century, creating yet another chapter of history.But it is the colour and vitality of the people of Sevilla that impress just as much, especially at this time, before the famous century-old Feria de Abril which kicks off each year on April 15, one huge late-night party of song, dancing and cheerfulness.Sevilla is one of Spain’s bases of flamenco, which has its roots not only in Castilian culture, but also Arabic, Jewish and Gypsy. The rhythm, melody and dance are so passionate and powerful and, apart from many bars and restaurants, its identity, heritage and soul can be enjoyed in Sevilla at the Museum of Flamenco Dance.Inside El Real Alcazar – the royal palaces – including the Patio de las Doncellas with its majestic archesYear-round, don’t expect to eat at a restaurant before 8pm and do try as many varieties of tapas as you can – Iberian meats including black ham and pork loin, and seafood such as deep-fried baby squid, with masses of choice. One tapas restaurant, Albahaca, is located in a former gypsy cellar in an ancient courtyard. The city market, Mercado Lonja del Barranco, by the river at the Triana Bridge offers fresh produce and stunning cuisine.The city’s vibrant bars specialise in vino, cava and vermouth as well as live music and unforgettable flamenco, again late, often until 4am. I was tempted to enrol in a one-day course in flamenco dance technique and Spanish but reconsidered, thinking my age and hand-clapping skills may fall somewhat short.Time has flown amid this magical, vibrant city and it’s now time to explore another facet of Andalusia, its Mediterranean coast.last_img