The birthplace of flamenco. The inspiration of Bizet’s Carmen. The dreams of los matadores. The city of culture in a country of culture.
Sevilla is the fourth city we’ve visited on this trip, and although it’s a tough choice for first place, it’s definitely captured my heart. The truth is that it is impossible not to get swept away by the allure of this age old wonder of the Old World.
Real Alcázar de Sevilla
The compound founded in the early Middle-Ages, like much of Spain, remains to this day. In 1248, the Castilians conquered the territory and made the Real Alcázar into the main political hub and royal housing, which- again- is still the case today. King Felipe IV and his Queen make the Alcázar their home when in Sevilla, and no doubt! The place is truly fit for royalty.
The Moorish architecture, Spanish infused with the Middle East, is stunning. It is my favorite style in the whole wide world. For me, the best part was the intricacy of detail in the designs, from floor to ceiling. We all agreed that the mesquite in Córdoba had much more impressive gardens than the Alcázar, but the beauty of the grounds still cannot be denied.
On our first night, we all dressed up and wove through the cobblestone streets to what appeared to be a hole-in-the-wall flamenco show. La Casa del Flamenco was nothing of the sort- it was perfect. It was intimate; in my eyes there couldn’t have been more than 40 people there, tightly gathered around a small stage set in front of a wall decorated like a common storefront in the city with intricately detailed tilework accented by troughs of flowers pouring out of windowsills. The show consisted of two flamenco dancers, a man and a woman, one incredible clapper/singer, and one guitarist with fingers like the wind that brushed across the strings and filled the room. I fell in love and immediately decided I wanted to know how to do that. We sat, transfixed, for what felt like minutes while we watched.
The beautiful thing about Spain is that we left the show at 10 pm, but outside the world acted as if it was 6 o’clock. The sun was still high in the sky, the streets were bustling, and the storefronts were bursting with wares down the narrow walk home. We stopped off at a small cafe right outside our flat before heading up for the night.
Museo Del Flamenco
We had a lazy morning on our second day in Sevilla. I slept in and then worked out in the living room while my parents looked at places to stay in Italy and my siblings chatted. Around 2, we walked to the Museo Del Flamenco. I had an amazing time; more and more transfixed by the dance and the music and the looks and the emotions and ah! Just ah! Pictures in chronological order adorned the walls, slowly by surely transporting us back through the history of flamenco from the stage, to the Golden Age, to the faces of gypsies, and the roots of the dance that marks the crossroads of cultures.
We looked on at another flamenco dance going on below. (I was happy we had the experience we did at La Casa Del Flamenco- definitely a must.) Upstairs in a small gallery of artwork depicting flamenco dancers, I found a painting that reminded me of Antonio, I think it’s the stance with the extra flourishing grandeur that’s what reminds me most of him. (Haha)
La Plaza De Toros
Even if you are opposed to bullfighting, La Plaza De Toros is a must see. On our third day in Sevilla, we made a short 20 minute stroll from our flat in the center of town to the famous bull fighting ring.
For half and hour, we were walked through various rooms within the building displaying posters dating back to the 1900s, costumes of the toreros that weigh around 6 kilos, various javelins and capes, and relics of the sport. We learned about the 14 year old prodigy bullfighter, José Gómez Ortega, who died in the ring in Toledo at only 25 years old. He was the son of a bullfighter and a flamenco singer. “He was too young. He didn’t know anything yet,” Pop commented. Lastly, the lovely tour guide pushed open the heavy red gates to the ring and we stepped into the arena. All I can say is: landmark experience.