THE Andalusian city of Seville is famous for its oranges, conjuring up images of juicy fruitfulness.
It’s also the capital of flamenco, bringing passion and creativity into the heady mix.
But in the heat of the Spanish sun does Seville live up to the flamboyant, colourful, ruffled fantasy of castanets, fiestas and seductive bandoleros?
Quite simply, yes. Seville is a city of smart indulgence. Visitors feast on tapas, fruit and sangria, and savour the beauty surrounding them.
The Real Alcázar palace complex has some eye-popping sights. Game of Thrones was filmed here, representing the Water Gardens of Dorne. The palaces are so striking, mixing Christian and Mudéjar influences.
Pass under intricate archways, admire delicate tiling and look upwards to discover decorative domes.
A clear highlight are the subterranean Maria de Padilla Bathrooms that offer a nice photo opportunity, then re-emerge to experience the richness of the extensive gardens.
In contrast to a historic palace, experience Seville’s most modern creation by taking in the slightly surreal Metropol Parasol. This curvaceous wooden structure is as captivating as any flamenco dancer. Designed as a shaded parasol it is iconic and, a bit like Marmite, many people love it while others abhor its utter quirkiness.
There is an archaeological museum in the basement but catch a lift to walk on top of this strange creation. At 30ft up, this viewing point offers excellent 360-degree views of the city.
For more eye-catching experiences explore the elegant Plaza España. Set within the tranquil Maria Luisa Park, this decorative creation comes complete with staggering towers, a 500-metre canal where visitors can rent small boats and four bridges decorated in blue, white and yellow ceramics. Take a pew in one of 48 alcoves, each representing a different area of Spain, furnished with a pictorial representation of the region and a handy map. It’s such an impressive, grand location that it provided a stunning backdrop in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. It’s also the starting point for horse and carriage rides around the city.
Seville is notably a city of colour. Take a riverside stroll in the Triana district, with its houses of dusky pastels and bright pops of colour. With tapas bars positioned by the water it’s a mellow foodie pit-stop. During the weekends the locals gather, eat, chat and relax, and visitors can immerse themselves in a typical Spanish neighbourhood.
On a more sober note, next to the Triana market is located the Castillo de San Jorge, once the headquarters of the Spanish inquisition. Today the focus is more forward-thinking as it’s a centre for reflection on tolerance. With a strong Catholic history and heritage, religion has left many positive marks on the city, the grandest of which is its Cathedral.
Gaining Unesco World Heritage status in 1987, it’s the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus.
In terms of festivals, the annual fairs and parades linked to Holy Week and April Fair are a colourful spectacle, filling the streets of Seville with the buzz of processions, the scent of incense, the light of candles and the glow of lanterns.
Finally, for pure unadulterated fun, escape to Isla Mágica theme park.
Its narrative is set in the 16th century and focuses on Sevillle, the discovery of America, but all that kids (and big kids) will see is a riot of fairground rides, attractions and, in the summer months, the Agua Mágica water park. Other family friendly activities in the city include an aquarium with more than 7000 specimens divided into five themed areas.
Seville is a rich offering, boasting history, culture, seduction and fun.
But if, during the flurry of sightseeing, your travelling companions start to flag, remember, in Seville it’s always possible to give them oranges at half-time.
easyJet flies from Edinburgh to Seville two days a week, with prices starting from £22.66 per person (one-way, including taxes and based on two people on the same booking). easyjet.com
Stay at Barceló Sevilla Renacimiento – see barcelo.com
For more, visit spain.info