A few highlights in Sevilla

Hola from Sevilla!

For many, when we first hear “Spain,” we think of the big cities like Barcelona and Madrid or key figures in history like Picasso. Sevilla is certainly the gem of Andalusia (and locals love to tell me of the WORLD) that should not go overlooked!

I have been living in the center of this beautiful city for nearly one month now, but this post will focus on my first weekend here exploring some of the main attractions, including María Luisa Park, the Plaza de España, the Alcázar, and the Cathedral.

But I can give you a quick little update about my new life here:

This small-town kid LOVES Sevilla’s active lifestyle and blend of historic and modern architecture. I also love any opportunity to experience the city life — especially not having to drive 40-60 minutes to get to the nearest shopping center.

From my current point of view, Sevilla, unlike larger cities, is not infested with tourists, making strolls through the city very pleasant and immersive (granted, I have gotten lost in the center’s labyrinth of streets many times; thank the Lord for Google Maps). Everyday, I come across a new café, bookstore, or bar while walking between locations.

On my first weekend, I had the pleasure of experiencing more of the touristy side of Sevilla with my great-uncle and aunt (which translates to my grandma’s brother and sister-in-law for those of you with a less complicated family tree).

We spent the weekend eating tapas, watching a flamenco show, and visiting the major sites!

HANDS-DOWN, my absolute favorite first-week activity was taking a Segway tour through the city. I normally don't partake in anything that screams TOURIST--but you cannot go wrong with Segways, especially in a place like Sevilla where it’s relatively easy to maneuver through the crowds. It’s the best way to see what the cars and buses cannot show you.

Plus, you feel super cool speeding through the city past pedestrians and through the grand Parque de María Luisa.

From what I understand (please correct me if I'm wrong), María Luisa (the wife of some duke) wanted to create a park filled with lots of beautiful plants inspired by local history as well as the Amazon rainforest. She also aimed for the park to be open to all rather than be exclusive to royals as others originally suggested.

A beautiful jungle within the city, María Luisa Park feels like its own world which you could explore, or sit and enjoy, for hours.

You can find beautiful fountains and gardens, squares for pigeons, or secluded spaces for studying.

Whenever I walk through María Luisa Park, I feel so at home. Discovering this place for the first time with my family was a real treat.

At the edge of María Luisa Park sits the grand Plaza de España.

My jaw dropped at the amount of detail in every aspect of the area.

You’ll never feel bored here. Whether you want to take a boat ride around the plaza...

Sit next to the old bookcases...

Or simply admire the architecture while letting the mist from the central fountain cool you down...

History has never looked more enchanting.

Plus, I can’t help but feel like a nerd when I visit sites that were used for filming.

“Look familiar, fellow Star Wars nerds?!” Source for top image: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Plaza_de_Espa%C3%B1a

Speaking of famous film sites, the next morning, we toured the Alcázar. Game of Thrones fans may recognize these sites from season 5 (or so I am told? I am more of Star Wars and Star Trek nerd).

The Alcázar definitely became another one of my favorite sites for its colorful architecture and background. From the outside, the Alcázar looks like a small fortress.

On the inside, the Alcázar is full of rich history.

Here, I learned first-hand about mudéjar, an incredible art style featuring a combination of Muslim and Christian influences.

This special combination represents a period when Muslims and Christians (apparently?!) peacefully coexisted in the city. This art style symbolizes that time of harmony and peace, and one cannot help but feel enchanted by the beautiful colors and intricate details.

The architects even wanted the waiting area upon visiting the king to feel like an oasis.

The gardens are certainly a great place to clear the mind, too.

In the Christian king’s bedroom, there are even poems engraved in Arabic as a symbol of the Muslim community’s acceptance of the region’s king.

Let's not forget that there existed a prominent Jewish community at the time. Look closely — centuries ago, if one was visiting the King, one would find a welcoming message just behind where the throne would have sat.

What else makes this royal palace different and amazing from other palaces? Rather than being made from expensive materials like marble and ceramic, the Alcázar showcases beauty mostly out of basic materials like plaster and brick.

Afterwards, we explored the grand Cathedral, which is the largest Gothic church in the world and the third largest religious structure in the world.

While the exterior of the Cathedral also borrows mudéjar styles, the interior's dark, Gothic design starkly contrasts the Alcázar’s bright, colorful architecture.

Here, we came across the grave of Christopher Columbus, featuring four sculptures carrying the man's dust. The two soldiers in the front may carry his tomb with pride,

…but the two in the back represent the distaste for Columbus’ actions.

You can't leave the Cathedral without climbing to the top of the tower for breathtaking views of Sevilla.

You can also find grand views from the top of the new Setas (which every American student refers to as the mushrooms).

Speaking of students... you may be wondering, “Where’s the studying?? You’re just traveling and exploring!”

Never fret—I’ll be sure to update you with details about my current study schedule soon! Keep in mind, the world is our classroom after all...

And Sevilla serves as a tremendous classroom for this curious soul.

#blogging #spain #travel #sevilla #studyabroad #españa #seville #photographer #photojournalism

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