weekend in Sevilla
Sevilla has everything going for it as a city break
destination. Thereís more historical interest than you could
hope for, the climate is superb (if rather too hot in July and
August), and itís probably one of the best destinations for
Tapas, ideally washed down with some fino sherry.
Itís the most important city in the south of Spain, with
some 700 000 inhabitants. Itís an exciting place, with a
vibrant, joy-filled and slightly untamed atmosphere. If you
want to get the best out of Seville, you need to adjust your
timings to fit in with the locals. Take a lunchtime nap, and
donít even think about going out to eat in the evening
before 9.30 pm. Restaurants only start getting busy by about
10 pm: make a booking for 8 and youíll be eating alone, or
with just a few other tourists.
We visited in June, when you can expect cloudless skies and
temperatures at least in the high 20s. Try to avoid July and
August unless you have a tolerance of furnace-like
temperatures. The flip side is that temperatures at night,
when youíll presumably be wandering around quite a bit, are
very comfortable. It all adds to the special atmosphere
view over the rooftops from the Giralda tower. The famous
bullring can be seen in the distance
For the wine lover, one of the key draws is that Sevilla is
possibly the best place to appreciate fino sherry, a brilliant
accompaniment to the local tapas cuisine. Crisp, dry, nutty and best
very fresh, when you drink fino here you understand why it is such a
good food wine. Itís a bit lost in the UK as an apertif, sipped
self-consciously out of funny shaped glasses. You donít want to be
self-conscious with fino, and Sevilla doesnít allow you to be self
conscious about anything.
Four things not to be missed:
||Real AlcŠzar de Sevilla
The royal palace is sensational. Built in the 10th century for
Sevillaís Muslim rulers, but later taken over by Christians
in the 13th century. Itís been tweaked and adapted since a
number of times, making it hard to understand but adding to
its appeal. The architecture is enthralling and the gardens
are laid out beautifully.
Itís enormous. Architecturally, perhaps not the prettiest in
the world, but certainly one of the biggest (third in the
league table of big cathedrals behind St Peterís and St
Paulís). Completed in 1507 on the site of a former mosque.
Stuck on to the side of it rather awkwardly is the Giralda.
This was the minaret of the mosque and visually is much more
appealing Ė it was built, mainly of brick, at the end of the
12th century, but the top bit was added in the 16th century.
Do climb the Giralda for some spectacular views.
The gardens of the AlcŠzar
Barrio de Santa Cruz
Sevillaís medieval Jewish quarter is a maze of narrow
streets oozing Latin character. This is the place to wander in
the evenings, soaking up the atmosphere and stopping for some
Tapas and fino sherry. Donít bother with a streetmap; just
follow your nose Ė you soon get a sense for where things are
and it can be quite fun getting lost here.
On the edge of the Barrio, Modesto is a rather unassuming-looking
restaurant. The tables outside are a good place to stop for some tapas,
but the rather cramped upstairs room is a great place for authentic,
unpretentious-yet-serious Andalusian cuisine. Mainly a locals-only
haunt, this was recommended to me by a Spanish wine critic, and it was
so good I went there twice in three days. It's not expensive. (calle Cano y Cueto 5, phone
95 411 68 11)
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