Monday, July 8: Upon arrival in Seville, about a 2 hour drive from our villa in Mollina, Australian Barry, our resident botanical expert, notes the Jacaranda trees lining the streets of the city. Jacaranda trees are apparently all over southern Spain. They have a light, pleasant scent and lovely blue or purple clusters of flowers. Of course, as it’s July, they’re not currently in bloom, but Scottish Barry tells us Seville is beautiful in spring when the trees are in bloom.
First, we visit the Plaza de España , a plaza in the Parque de María Luisa. It was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, which Spain hosted. It’s an example of the Renaissance Revival style in Spanish architecture.
The entire southern end of the city was developed into an expanse of gardens and grand boulevards, with a half mile of tiled fountains, pavilions, walls, ponds, benches and lush plantings of palms, orange trees, Mediterranean pines, and stylized flower beds.
The Plaza de España has been used as a filming location for films such as the 1962 Lawrence of Arabia and the Star Wars movies. It was also featured in the 2012 film The Dictator. (Wikipedia: Plaza de España (Seville))
Barry tells us that though it was built for the Exposition, it was never really used because of the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed.
The plaza was built on the Maria Luisa Park’s edge to showcase Spain’s industry and technology exhibits. The Plaza de España complex is a huge half-circle; buildings along the perimeter are accessible over a moat by bridges representing the four ancient kingdoms of Spain. In the center is the Vicente Traver fountain. By the walls of the Plaza are many tiled alcoves, each representing a different province of Spain.
Today the Plaza de España mainly consists of government buildings. The Seville Town Hall is located within it. The Plaza’s tiled ‘Alcoves of the Provinces’ are backdrops for visitors’ photographs, taken in their own home province’s alcove. I take some photos in the alcoves of the provinces I’ve visited or those I plan to visit: Toledo, Malaga, Cordoba & Barcelona.
At the end of the park, the grandest mansions from the fair have been adapted as museums. The farthest contains the city’s archaeology collections. The main exhibits are Roman mosaics and artifacts from Italy.
As we leave the plaza and walk into the city center, we pass some other beautiful buildings.
We then walk toward the city center of Seville, making a plush bathroom stop at the beautiful Hotel Alfonso XIII. The hotel was constructed by order of of King Alfonso XIII of Spain to house VIP guests at the Iber-American Exposition in 1928. The hotel has, for over 85 years, been the place to stay for royalty and heads of state. Its distinctive Mudéjar-style architecture of sweeping arches, decorative brickwork, wrought-iron, ornamental towers and ceramic finials makes it a glamorous spot to stay in Seville. It also welcomes visitors off the street to come in and have a look (Hotel Alfonso XIII, Seville).
Outside of the hotel, Australian Barry identifies a prehistoric plant, a tree fern. Barry is our flora expert on this tour, and he isn’t even the tour guide. 🙂
We meander into the Barrio Gotic, where we stop for a tapas lunch at the cafe Hosteria del Laurel. We share a sampling of tapas: spinach with chick peas, chorizo al vino blanco (sausages cooked in white wine), stewed beef’s cheek and a plate of Manchego Cheese. I really enjoy the company of Carole and the two Barrys, the Australian Barry married to Carole, and the Scottish Barry, our guide.
It’s funny, after we polished off our tapas yesterday in Ronda before I remembered to take a photo, Carole begins to remind me at each meal to take pictures. Thanks to her reminders, I have lots of pictures of wonderful Spanish food. 🙂
After lunch, Barry the guide leaves us to explore Seville Cathedral and the Alcazar on our own. The day is a scorcher, but little do we know it will reach 43 degrees during our explorations! This is most definitely not the time of year to visit Seville.