Sevilla is indescribable. This Andalusian corner of the world is wonderfully alive! Pretty, culturally rich and quite cosmopolitan, Seville is a must! Currently half deserted due to the heat, I can enjoy it at 38 degrees Celsius and not have to share it with too many tourists. As Andalusia is the hottest area of Spain, Seville’s high season is May-June and then October. This means that if you enjoy hot weather, and I mean HOT, this time is perfect to visit, as hotels are cheap and attractions not too crowded. Personally, after being rained on all of August in miserable summer-less Paris, I could not be happier here: the heat is intense but dry and I needed to be reminded there was a summer in 2014!
Luckily, Seville’s top attractions are also providing an environment cool enough to be enjoyed despite the scorching heat. I spent the day visiting the Alcazar and the Cathedral.
Alcazar, to put it succinctly , is Sevilla’s equivalent of Granada’s Alhambra Palace. Built over 4 centuries as a fortress, then a palace it owes its current form to a succession of faiths and notables’ political aspirations. Moorish enough and Spanish enough to charm and astound, the Alcazar it is still in part the Spanish Royal family’s residence in Seville.
The wonderful islamic detail in the design of the courtyards contrasts to the aristocratic detail, prettiness and feel of the gardens, and the visit seems a walk through the best of times in the history of Spain. The Hall of the Ambassadors is the best part, and appears as if materialized from old Arabian Nights.
The Cathedral, in contrast, is mostly gothic, though the beautiful courtyard and the Giralda tower, a former minaret, remind one that this, once upon a time, was a mosque.
Though originally built in the 12th century, the christian transformation from mosque to church took place over one hundred years, starting around year 1400. The Cathedral’s vastness is beyond impressive, and, depending on criteria of use (i.e. total area) this is the largest church in the world!!! There are plenty of notable art-pieces to admire, but the most notable and imposing feature is the Gothic altarpiece, Capilla Mayor, which contains 45 scenes from the life of Christ frozen in three dimensional gold plated icons.
The most famous feature though can be found to the left of the altar: Christopher Columbus tomb. No one knows for certain if his remains are actually interred within, but, regardless, this is the most impressive, and perhaps most somber tomb I’ve ever seen.