I’m rounding out my visit to the Andalusian region of southern Spain by exploring its cultural capital, Seville (pronounced Suh-be-yuh in Spanish).
On the road trip from earlier stay in Ronda, I pulled off to explore an interesting town called Arcos de la Frontera. It was perched precariously on the top of towering cliffs overlooking the Guadalete river.
I backed the Fiat into a tiny parking space (thank goodness it’s small) and hiked up the hill to the Basílica de Santa María de la Asunción. The towering church capped the whitewashed town like a cherry on a sundae.
After wandering a bit, I hopped back in the car and hit the road but it wasn’t long before I pulled over again. This time it was Jerez de la Frontera:
The beauty of having a rental car is that you stumble on interesting sights along the way you wouldn’t have the opportunity to explore by taking a train. I actually drove past the next stop and turned around specifically because it caught my eye.
This was a monastery with a mouthful of a name, Monasterio de la Cartuja de Santa María de la Defensión, which translated into the Carthusian Monastery of Lady of the Defense. Your guess is as good as mine.
I parked in a small gravel lot faced by an towering stone entry gate. An old wooden door covered in peeling red paint and metal adornments was propped open so of course I walked right in.
The grounds opened up behind the gate and I was drawn toward the church. Inside, the sisters were holding a service so I watched quietly for a few moments and then ducked back out. This was a memorable experience that I nearly drove right past.
Finally, I arrived in Seville. After checking into the apartment, I set out to explore my new base for the next few days. This is a large city with a historic central core. The cobblestone lanes are a maze of narrow passages that open up to hidden plazas dotted with orange trees.
Christopher Columbus (or at least part of his remains) are buried in the Seville Cathedral. It’s the fourth-largest church in the world as well as the largest Gothic church. The city also has an impressive Alcázar (palace).
But instead of the big sights, I chose to just wander the streets. It was late and time for a Spanish dinner so I pulled a stool up in an atmospheric bar and ordered tapas of ham, cheese and olives.
Before long, I was in a conversation with two Swiss guys who explained they were van camping through Portugal and Spain. In fact, they were preparing to board the ferry to Morocco and begin exploring Africa the next morning. After exchanging contact information, I gave them a hearty auf wiedersehen and they parted into the night.
On my next morning, the sun was up and shining in Seville. I stopped to tour the local bullring, Plaza de Toros Seville, for a comparison with those in Madrid and Ronda (it slotted in size right between the two).
They always remind me of Roman coliseums at this point.
Seville is a beautiful city, especially in this perfect late-November weather. People were out eating on terraces and at sidewalk cafes providing a constant chatter of happy Spanish. I’m not completely sure when everyone works or goes to school.
Of course the chatter ceased when Spain played Germany in its World Cup match later in the evening. Then, a full range of emotion was on display. Spain took an early lead but Deutschland got a late goal and the match ended in a tie. I astutely kept my German team sympathies to myself.
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