City Highlights: Seville

The kids are asleep, the house is quiet and I can finally sit down to enjoy a cup of tea. I listened to the whistling sounds of the wind and the faint taps of rain drops outside the window. What better to do on a night like this than to reminisce about my travels? My mind starts to wander...wander back to an arid and warm place. A bench in the garden shaded from the harsh Andalusian sun. The fragrance of orange blossoms sifts through the air. The ironic blend of delicate beauty and unyielding power lingers ubiquitously in uninhabited palaces. This is the heart and capital of Andalusia: Seville!

The Alcazar of Seville
The royal palace of Seville, originally a Moorish fortress, is one of the best remaining Mudejar architectures in Spain. Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1987, this is a palace where Muslim kings and Catholic monarchs once ruled, where seafarers gathered to plan trips to the Americas during the age of exploration and where the current royal family still stay when visiting Seville. The sprawling garden is a labyrinth of astonishing botanic creations. This is a place where I can spend the day dreaming and spinning tales in my head of powerful conquistadors and beautiful princesses.
The Courtyard of the Maidens
The Alcazar Gardens
The Seville Cathedral
There is no better indication of a city's wealth and power than the size and grandeur of its cathedral. This cathedral was completed in 1505 and is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.  Attached to the cathedral is a bell tower "La Giralda", which came to be known as the symbol of Seville. Cathedrals of this dimension were often built to represent the glory and omnipotence of god. Standing at the base of the cathedral looking up and around, I would definitely say that that goal was accomplished.
La Giralda
Cathedral exterior
Christopher Columbus's Tomb
I cannot come to Spain and not pay tribute to one of the most famous explorers of all time. Everyone who sat through and half paid attention in 3rd grade history class (in America) would know of Christopher Columbus. I once longed to discover new territories and unknown lands just like he did. Although, I would like to do it without the murder, rape and pillage of the natives. Christopher Columbus's tomb is located inside the Seville cathedral. However, there is a continuous debate whether his remains are in the cathedral in Seville or the cathedral in Santo Domingo, Haiti.  
The Tomb of Christopher Columbus
Casa de Pilatos
Casa de Pilatos is a prime example of an Andalusian palace. The palace was founded by the Mayor of Andalusia Pedro Enriquez de Quinones and his wife Catalina de Rivera in the early 16th century. The structure is a unique mixture of Spanish Mudejar and Italian Renaissance Style. Two distinctive styles that doesn't seem to make sense in theory, somehow works in reality. The intricate carvings on the columns and mosaics along the walls brings out the fluidity of the statues. There is a compilation of contrasts between the simple and complicated, light and dark. On another note, this palace appeared in the film "knight and Day" starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.   
Entrance to Casa de Pilatos
Courtyard of Casa de Pilatos
Strolling through a market held near the cathedral, we came upon a booth selling Arab sweets. The choices of intricately made Arab pastries were overwhelming.The sweet aroma of chocolate, rose water, orange blossom water, and nuts called out to us with every wave of the evening breeze. It would be a sin to pass by and not try a few. We picked out 6 pastries and with our sweets in hand, the four of us drifted contently into the sunset.  


Sunsets and Evenings in Seville
The sunsets in Seville are enchanting and majestic; like a golden orange halo hovering above the city. Activities on the streets do not hinder or cease as the light of day disappears into the horizon. In fact, the evenings are fueled with a vibrant energy that lightens the footsteps of pedestrians. As in Spain dinner does not start until well into the night, evening is a time when locals unwind and grab drinks with friends and visitors soak up the fervent energy of the city by hanging out in public squares, bars, or on the steps of the cathedral.

It's been over a year since our trip to Seville. In rare moments of idleness, I would sit in front of the computer, open the file containing pictures from our trip and relive the memories I have of the city. Memories flood in like a color coded slide show. Blue for the brilliant, cloudless sky. Green for the lush Arab gardens in the Alcazar. White for the orange blossoms that dotted the walls of Andalusian villas. Orange for the flash of color that tinted the Guadalquivir river at dusk.  As my slide show comes to an end, memories of the warmth and brightness of the Andalusian sun always proves to be the best companion during gray, wet, chilly, winter evenings at home.  

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