Where We Be
Seville, Spain
Granada has its Alhambra and Cordoba its Great
Mosque, but Seville -- the capital of Andalusia --
spreads its wealth over several excellent
landmarks instead of just one blockbuster:

  • Alcazar. Still used by the royal family as
    their residence in Seville, this Alhambra-
    like fortress is one of the most beautiful
    palaces in Spain. Witness its use as a key
    setting in Game of Thrones Season 5.

  • Cathedral & Giralda Tower. Largest Gothic
    cathedral and third-largest church in the
    world! Columbus' tomb is here. Giralda is
    Seville's most iconic landmark: climb to the
    top of this former minaret for fine views.

  • Plaza de España. Built for the 1929 Expo,
    this is a great people watching spot with
    its canals, fountains, arched bridges, and
    half-circle of curving buildings and towers.

  • Metropol Parasol. This massive modern
    "umbrella" is quite the sight and is the
    largest wooden structure in the world.
As you exit the Alcazar, this is your view of La Giralda -- the bell
tower of Seville Cathedral and the city's most iconic landmark
It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and deserves more attention than it gets --
although its recent use in Game of Thrones may change all that!
Then there's the detail work --
like this ornate carving on a doorway arch
You could hypnotize yourself with these colorful mosaic patterns
We were frankly surprised at just how magnificent Seville's
Alcazar is with its unmistakable Moorish architecture
Equally stunning are the honeycomb ceilings. To give
some perspective, those are balconies to the left and right.
This is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe. It was primarily built in
the 1300s -- AFTER Seville had been reconquered by the Christians in 1248.
The Christian King Pedro I had an unusual-for-the-time alliance with the emir in Granada. The
emir sent many of his best artisans to Seville in 1364 to help Pedro with the building of his new
palace within the Alcazar. The resulting style is known as "mudejar" -- in the style of the Moors.
The resulting palace is one of the finest examples of Mudejar architecture in the world. The mixture of Muslim and
Christian elements results in a unique design that can only be found in Spain (and Portugal to a lesser degree).
Within the walls of the Alcazar is a formal gardens. You can climb
a raised gallery with balconies (to the right) for pleasant views.
We spent 3½ hours touring the Alcazar and gardens. You could see it
more quickly, but why rush when you're in such a beautiful place?
We almost missed one of the most amazing sights at the Alcazar --  the "Baths of Lady María de Padilla," which are
actually rainwater tanks accessible via the gardens. These must be the most beautiful rainwater tanks in the world!
Welcome to the largest Gothic cathedral in the world
Completed in 1506, Sevilla Cathedral supplanted the Aya Sofia in Istanbul as the
largest cathedral in the world -- a title the Aya Sofia had held for nearly 1000 years
"Let us build a church so beautiful and so grand that those who see it finished
will think we are mad" -- so said the original founders of the cathedral in 1401
From within the cathedral we ventured up a long ramp to the top of La Giralda,
the ancient Moorish minaret of the mosque that once stood here. After the
Reconquista it was c
onverted to a bell tower with a Renaissance-style top.
You can buy a combo ticket at Salvador Church that's good for
Seville Cathedral too, thus avoiding long queues at the cathedral
As a bonus you'll get to see one of the most
over-the-top baroque churches in all of Spain
This is the burial place of Christopher Columbus -- recently verified per DNA evidence.
Here you see a statue of his coffin being reverently carried by four pallbearers.
Much of the cathedral is decorated with restraint
but the gold-on-gold main altar is over the top!
The treasury contains precious religious objects and paintings
We took time to appreciate the many fine details within.
The cathedral has 80 chapels so there's a lot to see!
Looking straight down on Plaza Virgen de los Reyes
The same plaza seen at ground level
The Plaza de España was built for the 1929 Expo and still holds up as a lovely attraction.
You can rent a canoe or just enjoy people watching and exploring on foot.
The plaza is located about 20 minutes south of the cathedral.
The main buildings form a half circle with towers at either end.
The curving colonnades are especially pretty at sunset
Our final sight in Seville was also the strangest: the Metropol Parasol
This modern "umbrella" is the largest wooden structure in the world!
Besides providing shade at Plaza La Encarnacion during hot summers, the undulating structure
makes quite a statement that Seville is not stuck in the past but continues to embrace change
The plaza is adjacent to Maria Luisa Park, an oasis of green in the city
We walked back to the historic center through
the park, enjoying the statues and gardens
Our walk back also took us along the Canal of
Alfonso XIII and the Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold)
Royal Alcazar of Seville
Seville Cathedral & Giralda Tower
Plaza de España & Maria Luisa Park
Metropol Parasol
This is the Courtyard of the Maidens (Patio de las Doncellas) --
site of Dorne Palace and Water Gardens in Game of Thrones
The views are great from the top. The "mast"
in the distance is the modern Alamillo Bridge.
Iglesia Colegial del Salvador