Click-clack, the sound of horses’ casks as they hit the ground lining the square with carriages on tow. To the right, a bride climbs a few steps, and both the groom and photographer try to capture a moment that will last a lifetime.
A turn to the right, and there it is, Plaza de España. It is sunset, and it glistens with reddish and golden tones that reflect from the same color tiles that line its walls. The first impression is its sheer size. Used as a Star Wars set at one time, the plaza does not require perspective to command the shot with its magnitude. Pigeons swarm as a flock, while the foam from the center fountain comes to life with LED lights. Attached to it, and my introduction to the square is Maria Luisa’s Park, whose sheer magnitude rivals that of the square. It has all the elements of Andalusian charm, but it makes it clear that Sevilla, just like its square, is the capital not a provincial town.
Now that introductions have been made, it is time to discover the rest of the city. Sevilla is full of squares and parks, winding streets so narrow that they barely work as a passage, yet protect those who travel them from the scorching Andalusian sun of summer. On the main fairways, parasols hang between buildings offering a visual delight and much-needed shade from the sun.
There is so much to see, and so much variety. City and old town both mesh together creating a unique melting pot. Sevilla melts both in the heat as it does on its diversity. How else would someone spend the night drinking next to French porno looking stars complete with mustaches and in basketball jerseys at an 80’s bar? Only to lose her/his dignity and voice a few hours later at a karaoke bar across the river in Triana. Although Sevilla is well known for flamenco, as well as centerpiece landmarks. The city is best experienced between its winding roads, at a cafe in a plaza with no name, or one by the side of the street during the morning.
Sevilla’s size accompanies its diversity with the typical challenges of mid-size cities. Destinations too big to pass as provincial towns, but too small to possess a truly efficient public transportation system. However, the bus system, tram (metro), and ride-sharing services are widely available, and they do provide a necessary alternative to walking, especially under the summer heat.
Sevilla’s diversity can be best explained by noting two of its most prominent structures: the cathedral, and las setas. The cathedral with its polished sandstone facade offers a mirage and a classic view to the town. It is both a reminder that the desert is closer than one could ever imagine under its landscaped corridors or streets. Las setas on the other hand, is a wooden structure that would seem more fitted as a world fair entrance, than a sprawling center square in the middle of the classic town.
Sevilla rose to prominence both by the Arab caliphates that once ruled it, as by the catholic kings and queens who made sure Sevilla would fold into the Iberian peninsula once again. The latter appears to have won, and Sevilla is today a quintessential staple of what people come to associate with Spain as it is a guardian of its Andalusian heritage.
Over by the river, Torre de Oro shimmers along multiple bridges that connect various areas of the city. A passage between the city center, and the more working-class neighborhoods, with a sprawling modern city center shining in the background. Walking along the bridges, travelers may find artists carving paintings on wooden planks using a magnifier glass and the sun. In the desert, nothing can be wasted, and art is no exemption. Visitors can take in the city by boat or paddle surfing along the shore. Despite the desert limitations, Sevilla has made the best of it to become both a tourist destination and an urban center of the Andalusian province.
History abounds outside the most prominent attractions, so best to brush up or pick up a tour to understand the vast heritage that has made the city rise to prominence in the past.
For a reprieve from the heat and to escape into a walled oasis, the Real Alcazar lives to its expectations as a jewel that must be kept hidden from view. Used as a Game of Thrones set, the gardens and structure sprawl giving the illusion of being in a foreign land. The blend between Arab architecture that created and inspired the locale and the subsequent remodeling of its catholic counterparts, makes for a diverse and unique experience.
There is, however, no better way to experience the heat of the Andalusian people than with a Tablao (Flamenco show). Watching as the performers entrance themselves and the audience in a passionate display, reminds that the blood of Andalusians just as its grounds runs hot.