Sevilla #2, Andalucía, Spain 10/13

November 16, 2013

One of the interesting things we could clearly see in Seville was the influence of the Arabic culture that dominated here for centuries before Christianity finally won out. Among the many amazing sites to visit in the city, the Alcázar Palace with its gardens, intricately carved arches, ceilings and beautiful Azulejo tiles leaves little doubt to its status as a World Heritage Site. Rising on the oldest archaeological remains of Seville, the Royal Alcázar Palace was born during the 10th century over the remains of an Islamic quarter. The Palace today is a harmonious combination of Taifa, Almohad, Gothic, Mudejar, Reminiscence, Baroque, Mannerist and Neo-Classical styles. It is the oldest Royal Palace of Europe still in use. Whenever the King of Spain comes for a visit to Seville, he stays in the upstairs quarters.

Spain is only one of the few countries that continue the tradition of real bullfights. Some will say it’s cruel and inhumane, but having lived in Mexico as a kid where I saw many bullfights, and again in Spain when Monika and I attended the famous Running of the Bulls in Pamplona some years ago, one cannot deny the excitement, the pageantry and the bravery of the matadors. Cattle in American feed lots may suffer more than a fighting bull in the ring. First built in 1761, Seville’s “Plaza de Toros” is the most prestigious in Spain. Unfortunately, we missed the bullfighting season that ends in early October.

If there’s anything Seville is really famous for, it must be Flamenco. A strange, sometimes violent, sometimes romantic dance tradition coming from many cultures. Seville is considered a center of this art. We were fortunate to find an excellent show to attend at the Museo del Baile Flamenco Dancing school operated by the well-known Flamenco artist, Cristina Hoyos.

After our flamenco experience, there was still time for a romantic carriage ride around town and through the park. It was the beginning of Monika’s week-long birthday celebration. The crisp air said that Autumn was coming. Vendors were selling roasted chestnuts. We stopped for a final glass of wine in this beautiful city. Tomorrow, we will discover why the delicious Jamón Ibérico de Bellota is so special.

This is the main entrance gate to the Alcázar Palace.

This is the main entrance gate to the Alcázar Palace.

Walking through the arches and gardens of the Alcázar Palace, we could clearly see the influence of many cultures.

Walking through the arches and gardens of the Alcázar Palace, we could clearly see the influence of many cultures.

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This beautifully flowering tree by the entrance caught everyone's eye and no one knew its name. If you do, please let us know!

This beautifully flowering tree by the entrance caught everyone’s eye and no one knew its name. If you do, please let us know!

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This domed ceiling was magnificent.

This particular domed ceiling was magnificent.

Seville’s “Plaza de Toros” is the most prestigious in Spain.

Seville’s “Plaza de Toros” is the most prestigious in Spain.

The people of Spain, and especially in Seville, love the pageantry of a bullfight.

The people of Spain, and especially in Seville, love the pageantry of a bullfight.

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There are many styles of Flamenco Dancing. The show at the Museo del Baile Flamenco was very professional.

There are many styles of Flamenco Dancing. The show at the Museo del Baile Flamenco was very professional.

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In the evening the many fountains of Seville are even more beautiful.

In the evening the many fountains of Seville are even more beautiful.

Vendors were selling roasted chestnuts. Autumn was in the air.

Vendors are selling roasted chestnuts. Autumn is in the air.

A romantic carriage ride in the park. Is that a way to start a birthday celebration?

A romantic carriage ride in the park. Is that a way to start a birthday celebration?

A final tapa and a glass of wine before we hit the highway tomorrow.

A final tapa and a glass of wine before we hit the highway tomorrow.

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