15 Reasons to go to…Seville

From flamenco, bullfighting and non-stop fiesta, to ancient rituals, tranquil gardens and grand Moorish architecture, Seville is all about theatre

1.

In terms of real estate some cities value harbour views, others rent control and in Seville it’s the roof top terrazzo that is prized.  Measuring in those stakes the city’s design upstart, the EME Fusion Hotel is the hottest property in town.  With views of the majestic Cathedral second to none, the most fashion forward bar in town and staff from central casting, the terrace of the EME is the place to view and be viewed Seville-style.

 

EME Fusion Hotel, Calle Alemanes 27, tel. 954 560 000

 

2.

Holy Week in Seville is perhaps Catholicism’s most hauntingly beautiful spectacle. The Klu Klux Klan borrowed from the traditional dress of the procession and for the visitor it can take on a frightening dimension. However, erase from your mind the negative connotation and watch in solemn awe as men heave weighty crucifixes through a sea of candles, in penance for the year’s indiscretions.  For the Semana Santa experience

fifty-two weeks a year the bizarre, catholic kitsch of El Garlochi is an only in Seville experience. A bar dedicated, without a hint of irony, to the city’s twin passions, partying and Christ.

 

El Garlochi, Calle Boteros 26, no phone

3.

For the art devotee, traveling to Spain usually means the classics at Madrid’s Prado, some Catalonian avant-garde and big names in Bilbao.  This goes some way to explaining why the extraordinary Centro Adaluz de Arte Contemporaneo slips under the radar.  The gallery’s previous incarnations as baroque Monastery and industrial porcelain factory have been cleverly reconciled to create a cutting edge art space worthy of acclaim.

 

Centro Adaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Monasterio de la Cartuja de Santa María de Las Cuevas, Avda. Américo Vespucio 2, tel. 955 03 70

 

4.

Whatever your stance on bullfighting, the magnificent pageantry of death in the afternoon at Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza is something to behold.  During the season (Easter Sunday-October 12), book early and be sure to pay extra for seats in the sombra (shade) not the sol (sun).  If the thought of a fight is too much, just visit the ring but do not miss visiting this icon.   After the fight the atmosphere in the streets around the ring is electric especially in Bodeguita Antonio Romero where cervezas and Spanish omelet with the fanatics keeps the blood pumping.

 

Bodeguita Antonio Romero, Calle Antonia Diaz 19, tel. 954223939

Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, Paseo de Colón 12, tel.  954 224 577

 

5.

Some World Expos are contrived makeovers of also-ran cities with over-enthusiastic civic governance, but Seville would not be the proud, modern and cosmopolitan city it is without Expo ’92, which in many ways also celebrated the end of the Franco period.  Seville has hosted in fact hosted two expos.  While some pour scorn on the tired pavillions at La Isla de la Cartula, none can deny the magnificence of Plaza de Espana, the remaining legacy of the original 1929 Spanish-American Expo.

 

6.

Flamenco is the symbol of Seville.  Its spellbinding beauty, furious drama and ever-evolving influences hold a mirror up to the city. To have a ‘feet on experience’ take a class with the pro’s at the new Museo del Baile Flamenco.  At Casa de la Memoria talented students of flamenco sing and strut for their supper in an 18th Century patio.  The brave go to La Anselma after midnight and watch transfixed as Anselma (owner/singer/icon) takes to the stage, demands complete attention then kicks off Seville’s wildest party.

 

Museo del Baile Flamenco, Calle Manuel Rojas Marcos 3, tel. 954.34.03.11

Casa de la Memoria Calle Ximénez De Enciso 28, tel. 954 560 670

Casa Anselma, Pagès del Corro 49, no phone

 

7.

The tapas culture of Seville is as strong as it is anywhere in Spain and is reason enough to come to the city alone. El Rinconcillio is the city’s oldest bar, and four hundred years on, is still its coolest.  The rusted on barmen scrawl orders on the black board inlaid bar and present at pace plates of superlative Jamon Ibérico de Bellota, bacalao en tomat and espinacas e garbanzanos.  After El Rinconcillio head to relative newcomer, the two hundred year-old Bodeguita Morales and order a sherry from the barrel and tuna belly tostada.

 

El Rinconcilio, Calle Gerona 40, tel. 954 223 183

Bodeguita Morales, García de Vinuesa, tel: 954221242

 

 

8.

In the seventeenth century, the last Arab bath of Seville disappeared.  Mercifully Aire de Sevilla has revived this indulgent aspect of Moorish life.  After discovering the remnants of an original Hamman at the base of a former palace a meticulous process of restoration and renovation led to its centuries overdue reopening in 2004.  Come to Aire de Sevilla to soak in the Arabic tiled pools, lit with bronze lamps and fragranced with orange blossom.  To take home Seville’s signature citrus scent, head to perfumery Agua de Sevilla.

 

Aire de Sevilla, Calle Aire 15, tel. 955010024

Agua de Sevilla, Plaza Nueva 9, tel. 954 213 145

 

9.

On paper it is hard to believe that the epitome of Spanish masculinity wears cropped sparkly jackets and ballerina flats, yet that is the costume of the Torero.  To see the all the accoutrements of the bullfighting set go to El Caballo.  The traditional Sevillian equestrian brand is having an intriguing rebirth under the creative direction of ex-Jean Paul Gaultier designer Nicolas Vaudelet. The reigning Iberian leather trader Loewe, often referred to as the Spanish Hermes, also has a long established presence in the city serving the well-heeled shoppers of Plaza Nueva.

 

El Caballo, Calle Antonia Diaz 7, tel. 954218127

Loewe, Plaza Nueva 12, tel. 95-422-52-53

 

10.

When fashion editors invariably turn their eyes once again on the ferociously curvaceous, plunging and frilled gypsy styling of the Moda Flamenca Vicky Martin Berrocal will be waiting.  She is the best possible advertisement for her modern take on the famously flirtatious, sultry style of the Sevilliana.  The more established interpreters of Andalucian folklore fashion are Vittorio & Lucchino and at their store you can pick up scoop neck tops and oversized chandelier earrings.

 

Vicky Martin Berrocal, Avenida Manuel Siurot 21, tel. 954 621 840

 

Victorio & Lucchino, Casa Natal de Velazquez, Calle Padre Luis María Llop 4, tel. 954 222 800

 

11.

Merenda is Spanish for afternoon tea.  The Seville answer to cucumber sandwiches at the Ritz is a sexier, sunnier (and tardier) affair of churros dipped in chocolate taken on the patio of the grand Alfonso XIII.  If you happen upon Convento de San Leandro be sure to sample the local sweet treat, the nun’s yemas.  To skirt the ban on trading face to face the Order installed a modesty retaining wooden carousel.  Place your money down, whisper ‘per favor’ and wait for the sweetened egg yolks to appear.

 

Hotel Alfonso XIII, San Fernando 2, tel. 95491700

Convento de San Leandro, Plaza San Ildelfonso 1, no number

 

12.

When does a hotel graduate from boutique to bespoke?  This is the question that staying in the stylishly appointed Corral del Rey poses for its indulged guests.  Small, unique accommodation options have become common in Seville’s old centre.  However it is the relaxed, genuine approach of its staff and their well-edited advice for exploring the city that give this tucked away gem its sparkle.

 

Corral del Rey, Corral del Rey 12, tel. 954 227 116

www.corraldelrey.com

 

13.

In summer Seville swelters and its residents retreat to its famous Moorish patios for languid siesta.  In the interior of every building in the old centre is a private oasis out of reach of the heat bedraggled visitor.  However the Real Alcazar Alhambra’s stunning little sister is open to the public to cool down in the perfumed paradise of its gardens, as are the patios of the magnificent of Casa de Pilatos.

 

Real Alcazar, Plaza Patio de Banderas tel. 954 502 324

Casa de Pilatos, Plaza de Pilatos 1, tel. 954 225 298

 

14.

Can you handle the pace of a night out on the Moorish tiles?   Edgy Alameda, once a boulevard of prostitution and drugs is undergoing a gentrification with hip bars crowding the paved parade and raging until well past dawn.  The atmosphere doesn’t even begin to warm up until after midnight at the hip La Ilustre Victima and even later at the distinctly bohemian hangout Café Hercules.

 

La Ilustre Victima, Correduria 35, tel. 954 210 387

Café Central, Alameda de Hércules 64, tel. 954 385 492‎

 

15.

The Hospes Hotel Group has made a name for themselves in Spain somewhat of a saviour of its landmark buildings.  Las Casas del Rey de Baeza, its Seville presence, is part of that roster.  A white washed and Andalucian ochre former residence of the King it is now a spacious boutique hotel that is the epitome of Sevillian summer chic.

 

Hotel Las Casas del Rey de Baeza, Plaza Jesus de la Redencion 2, 1-817-983-0745

 

© VET, November 2009, Photography Credit: Pablo Zamora