Spain 2012-3 Seville

An entry way and court yard in Santa Cruz neighborhood

As soon as we completed the initial business of checking in and settling down, we headed out to explored and find food. Walking towards the cathedral, we reached Calle Mateos Gago in a few minutes, a delightful street lined with shops and cafes, all within view of the cathedral, one block to the west, and view of Iglesia de Santa Cruz, one block to the east. The street curb was made more crowded by the tables set out there. We sat down at one and it happened to be Casa Tamate. Luckily, it worked out great. We each were very satisfied with our meal and I thoroughly enjoyed my dish of a surprisingly large cut of Sword fish matched up with green salad and fries. The fish was so fresh that simply searing with olive oil, salt and pepper was the only trick required. With that, our dining experience turned the tide.

Seville’s historic center, Santa Cruz neighborhood, if not as majestic as Toledo, is beautiful in a more colorful and warmer way. Infused with Moorish/Arab/Islamic flair, it wins you with distinctive characteristics not seen anywhere else.

Cathedral de Sevilla , laid out with five aisles, impresses with its grand proportion and although not as elaborately decorated as Toledo’s cathedral, it is magnificent in its own right. Giralda Tower, elegantly situated on one corner of the cathedral, exhibits an exotic air and indeed was the work of Islamic architects from 12th century. The climb to the top of the tower is made easy by gradual ascend of a ramp which is completed by a few flights of steps at the summit – an improvement from the more commonly seen narrow, spiraling stairs. Large and airy windows along the climb make stops pleasant till one reaches the top and is further awarded by delightful views of Seville.

Alcazar of Seville, just steps away from the cathedral, is a fine example of Arab/Islamic architecture. It was originally built in 12th century for its Arab ruler and although later basically completely rebuilt by Christian rulers, it continued to adopt Islamic architecture. As the first of its kind that I’ve ever visited, the beauty of its arches and unique, endlessly varied motifs completely took me aback, absolutely fascinating. There is a large garden, very beautiful and provided some relief on that very hot day. Also on display was a collection of gorgeous fans, mostly Spanish, a few from France and a few from far away China or Japan.

About two tram stops south from Santa Cruz neighborhood is Plaza Espana. The day we visited it was a hot, hot day and coming down with a fever, which fortunately went way after one night’s rest, we did not stay long. But one does not need time to tell it is the grandest plaza ever. The crescent shaped building is exceedingly beautiful and enhancing its charm is a manmade river cuddling its base in the front, where boats floating about and waiting for visitors.

What I take away most from Seville however is the Flamenco show. We asked our hotel for recommendation and made a reservation for a two hour show at Tablao Flamenco Los Gallos, which is located right at Plaza Santa Cruz and a few minutes away from where we stayed, and at €30 per person. The theater with 70/80 seats including a small area on second floor is smaller than I expected. Its decoration, an interesting mix of warm and cool, old and new elements, is quite vibrant. The theater was half full on that Thursday and the show started promptly.

The first four programs were solo dances by four different female dancers.  The fifth was a solo performance by another female singer sitting in a chair while employing castanets. These are beautiful women from twenties to forties or maybe even fifties. Their getup and costumes, while differed from hairdos, colors, shapes, skirt tails/trails and their accessories of shawls, were all distinctively, colorfully Flamenco. The way the dancers staged their entry and exit, ascending and descending a meandering stair, was very intriguing, a fine way to commence and grab attention. All accompanied by two male singers and one to two male guitarists, the performances differed by ways of maneuvering the shawls, tails/trails, fans and castanets, but all women danced skillfully, beautifully, bewitchingly and all exuded an incredible intensity through vehement physical movements and deeply furrowed brows.  One can’t help but be captivated by such performances. The sixth program was solo by a male guitarist. The finale, during which audience was allowed to use cameras and videos, was a group performance when all performers got on to the stage. Smiles passed between the performers as if they were celebrating and having fun, it was a cheerful way to end the show.

Here I observed it again. In contrast to the exuberance of the performances, you can’t help but notice the aloofness of the actors and lack of interacting with and engaging the audience. Despite that, the music and dances are sure something to remember for a long time.

Giralda Tower

Through the arch is the entrance to the Alcazar

Seville cathedral –entrance on the south end

Seville cathedral – its magnificent organs

Seville cathedral – Intricate stone work on the ceiling

Seville cathedral – seen from the entrance to the Alcazar

A colorful little corner

Finale of Flamenco show

Alcazar – old wall from 13th century

Alcazar – A gorgeous fan employing mother of pearl

Alcazar – the cloister

Alcazar – Arches and stone works

Alcazar – More fascinating arches and stone works

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2 Responses

  1. Looks like Seville has some amazing architecture :).

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