Stop 3: Seville

Hey guys! The 3rd place that my family had adjourned to in Spain was the quaint and rustic land of Seville. 

Brief outlook

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Seville is less urbanised than some parts of Spain, and it mostly relies on agriculture and tourism. It is the biggest exporter of olive oil , with 42% of the country’s production dedicated to olives. The Vatican City in Italy likes to use the sacred oils for religious ceremonies, thus Seville gains its revenue from such demand. Seville has the oldest olive trees, with one being more than 2000 years old.

The land has a huge capacity for growing such trees & oranges. They have around 25,000 orange trees in the region, which were introduced by the Arabs. These oranges are really sour, but are useful for making food like marmalade.  

We also learned a bit more about where the food origins came from. The word ‘paella’ was actually stemmed from a tradition where the men would cook for their wives once a week. So Paella actually means ‘for her‘. Sweet. 

 

In terms of the population, around 20,000 people that live in caves, that actually have water, electricity and other utilities. These caves are fully functional, fancy staying in one? 

The temperature here fluctuates a lot. So please bring your jacket around. In the day it can be 20 degrees, but at night it drops to 10 and below. Rain is scarce here, since there are so little clouds. Wind is chilly, and the air is dry. So don’t forget your face moisturisers and all. 

Seville also feels safer than Barcelona, since people are more friendly and less guarded there. We could breathe a little more easily there, since it was less prone to pickpocketing. The city here is also slow-paced and older, which was a refreshing twist from the bustling metropolises of Madrid and Barcelona. 

Town

Seville has an old rustic charm about the place. The town is historical with many ancient buildings. Almost all the roads are on cobbled stone, and trams operate in the middle of the road. There was a river as well, that smelled fresh of the sea. It looked wonderful, and the architecture there is also great. It’s nice to walk by in the evening, the view is pretty good. An evening stroll before dinner is always a bonus. 

 

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There is a Royal Palace and Cathedral that is situated in town. We couldn’t enter the palace since it was already closed, but we saw the outside of it. (This palace closes by 5pm) The tower of the Cathedral can be climbed, but it is really windy and not an easy task. 

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We passed by a fantastic looking university as well. It looked so majestic, as though it held a lot of wisdom within it. imagine what it would feel like to step inside such a grand place every day? I’d feel so wise.
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Granada 

First up, we went to this place called Granada. The word sound really grand, but actually that word means ‘pomegranate‘. Haha. I didn’t think anyone would fancy naming a city after a fruit right. But apparently these people like their pomegranates. 

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Granada is the only place that has a church inside of a mosque. We visited the Royal Residences, with the help of a local guide. It’s really meaningful to come here with these locals, they are very informative and they can take you to these places, explaining everything as they go.

When the Muslims had moved into the area first, they had build a lot of private baths, so that they could have religious ceremonies in their private homes. When you first enter into a residence, all you can see is a wall. The road then bends in an L shape fashion and then you’d be able to see the gardens in full view. The windows were also build in such a way that you couldn’t see who lived in there. You’d only be able to see silhouettes. The sultan was smart in that way that when people entered into his quarters, they were only able to see a shadow of him from a window shade.

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There was a legend as well, of a sultan who had murdered 37 men since he suspected that one of them had an affair with his Queen. He had beheaded all of them in one of his chambers. 

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We went outside to view the scene from the top of the palace grounds. We saw all the tiny towns that were scattered beyond the residence, as well as some of the caves. It was breathtaking.  

 

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The first Arabs that resided in this place were devout, so they made it a point to carve their history in the place. There were tons of stars carved on the ceilings to depict the Jewish symbol, plus they built a fountain to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. This was preserved from ages ago. Isn’t that great or what? 

 

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The palace ground were totally awe-striking. There was a building that had symmetry with its reflection in the water. 

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The royal gardens were also beautiful. The trees were trimmed in such a cute way that they resembled pillars. Everything is symmetrical in this palace. 

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When the Christians took over this place, they took away all the Jewish symbols and then replaced them with plain walls. They didn’t want to reside in a building with these remnant symbols left behind. As different people of varying religions took over each other, they also carved their own religion in the buildings. 

We also visited the streets away from the palace. The Catholics liked to decorate their walls with plates & the portrait of Mary. Such houses were everywhere around the narrow streets.

 

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They had private gardens called ‘Carmens‘, where they beautified and planted many varieties of flowers there. There are small local competitions for these careens, and the winners’  gardens would be showcased for the entire village to see. People here loved to leave small little windows by the gate so that passer-bys could peep in to see their gardens. 

These towns were known as the ‘Miserables’, since it was the poorer region of Granada. They were visibly poorer, with the reliance of small stalls set up along the narrow roads. The people were often selling items along the streets, and they relied on produce to survive. 

We found this old place called St. Nicolas, which was dedicated to a Saint as well. There was a cross put up there as a monument for him.

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We tried these huge colossal skewers, and the drippings from the roasted food would just flow down the plate. It’s fun to eat since you can keep sliding the food down like what you’d do in a kebab. 

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Cordoba

Next up, would be Cordoba, which was the most advanced city in the 10th and 11th century. Apart from the Arabic influence, and they also have Mosques, Roman Bridges & a Cathedral. 

The fascinating thing about the Cathedral is that it has Muslim, Arabic and Christian influence. Within one area, there can be various decorations that depict these three religions. Notice that this pillar below has the Muslim carvings on the bottom, and the above pillar is Catholic. 

 

Even the pillars had varying religious influence. Within this place, was a Muslim-inspired Arch, and then the Catholic walls beyond. Eventually we got so confused with which part was Catholic or Muslim since everything was so jumbled up together. What a sight!!

When we entered the Catholic part of the church, it was adorned with gold and silver. The looming statues  and carved architecture were a sight to behold. They were in the Gothic style, with high ceilings and and huge organs towering above us. When played, the sound would echo through the walls, resounding through the building. 

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They had many statues of the saints in another region. Every Saint had his/her own corner, and they were prayed to by the people. Some people were also buried here, with the tombs laid low, till you could hardly see them. You could even walk over them without realising. 

Food

A local dish to try would be the cold tomato soup. It is made with bread pieces, tomato and garlic pureed together. It is really cold, but has an interesting taste. 

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Locals also like pastries with orange marmalade. We tried a pie that had a thick spread of marmalade in there, but it was way too sweet for our liking.

Coffee is a favourite beverage here. The word ‘latte’ is coffee with milk, unlike in Italy where ‘latte’ simply means milk. Most locale pastimes would be to sit around cafes at tea time to have coffee and croissants. 

People specialise in Olive Oil here. You can purchase good olive oil in shops, with the best quality being Extra Virgin, followed by Virgin and then normal olive oil. 

White Village 

In Seville, there are many small villages here. We visited a small village in the area, and there are 19 of these white villages. 1 is a Blue Village, where they used to film the Smurfs movie. The locals decided to let the walls remain blue to let it become a tourist attraction. 

These quaint villages house very few people, and the streets are narrow and white in color. It seems that everyone in the area knows each other. Amenities such as schools and shops are available here, so people don’t usually venture out into the city unless they have to. 

Christmas Carols were playing everywhere around the street through speakers, and in the centre of the town stood this cute Christmas tree, where every village kid hung their Christmas Wishes. It was a unique stand point of its own, since instead of fancy ornaments, they hung their own wishes.

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So that’s a wrap for this beautiful region called Seville. In the last post of this series, I’ll be writing about Portugal!

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