Seville, Spain, is a city for wanderers. The warren of tiny streets and alleyways that make up the heart of this interesting place twist and turn their way past buildings of architectural grandeur, making every corner the gateway to a new discovery. Hours can be spent strolling the streets with no purpose other than admiring the skill of builders and artists long gone.
One of the things I enjoyed most about Seville, besides the delicious, cheap tapas and beer, was it’s walkability. Armed with an imprecise map, and a vague idea of the main sites of the city, I spent two days strolling about in wonder. The maze and size of the streets seems to keep most traffic at bay, so the heart of the city is relatively car-free. Add to that the vast number of café’s and restaurants scattered about in the plazas, and it becomes a walker’s paradise.
Now, despite an interest in architecture, I’ve never studied it, so I don’t know the first thing about building styles and periods. I only know that I like certain things, admire others, and am bored out of my mind by steel and glass rectangles. I like and admire Old Seville.
There is no cohesive style. Seville has been constructed over the millenia, and influenced by the Romans and Moors as well as the Spanish themselves. There are aquaducts to be found, and the Moorish elements crop up everywhere from window designs to the extensive buildings and gardens in Alcazar, the palace. Perhaps it is the blend of North African and European styles that sets Seville apart from other cities I’ve visited.
Seville also boasts one of the largest cathedrals in the world, built on the former site of a mosque after it was taken back from the Moors in 1248 and conveniently located next to the Alcazar. In fact most of Seville’s tourist attractions are within easy walking distance of each other; another point in it’s favour.
I was also impressed by the bicycle rental system. Throughout the city there are stands of bikes that anyone can rent for a low fee. Team this with the bike lanes on most major streets, and low traffic volumes on the smaller roads, and you have a terrific, green transportation system to augment the trams, buses, and soon-to-be subway system.
The reputed home of tapas and flamenco, Don Juan, Carmen and The Barber, Seville is a true gem of a city.