After leaving Andalusia, one of the things we missed the most was the Alfonso XIII. The hotel is the quintessential old Europe, featuring great warm service, luxurious home away from home. It’s the exact opposite of modern and trendy boutique hotels.
Sevilla, the capital of Andalusia, founded approximately 2,200 years ago, conquered by the Romans, the Moors, the Visigoths, each different culture leaving clear layers of their unique personality embedded in this beautiful city.
Sevilla was the birthplace of two Roman emperors, Trajan and Hadrian, it became the first seat of a cora under the Caliphate of Cordoba, in Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain). It was the capital of the short lived kingdom Taifa of Seville, then part of the Christian kingdom of Castile.
It sits on the baks of the river Guadalquivir and features three Unesco World Heritage sites:
the Alcazar, the Cathedral and the Archivo de Indias.
We visited the city on our way to a wonderful wedding in Jerez de La Frontera, in May 2012. Our visit became a stop in a larger 10 days tour of Andalusia. We had an amazing time, perfect weather (it gets really hot after May), great food, music and awesome sight seeing.
The city was in full bloom, purple jacaranda and orange trees every where.
We stayed at the Hotel Alfonso XIII, steps away from all the major historical attractions and the cafe’s of the old jewish quarter.
The Cathedral of Sevilla was completed in early 16th century.
It’s the largest Gothic cathedral and third largest church in the word.
The church hosts the burial site of Chrstopher Columbus.
The clock tower, the Giralda, used to be a muslim minaret, started in 1184 by architect Ahmad Ben Baso.
Right in front of the cathedral, sits the Archivo General de Indias, a beautiful palace containing the archival of historical documents, illustrating the history of the Spanish Empire, from the first Conquistadores to the end of 19th century. One of the highlights of the Archivo is Christopher Columbus journal.
We had a great dinner with a bunch of friends at the restaurant Infanta. Food was delicious and the atmosphere very friendly.
One thing you should not miss is a flamenco show, consult this great site Sevilla Flamenco to find out the best shows, events and bars where flamenco is performed.
For more information on Sevilla, please see the other posts on this site:
The Plaza De Espana was built in occasion of the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, under king Alfonso XIII. The Expo was a fair where every Spanish region and Portugal, the United States, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile, the Republic of Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Ecuador were represented.
The huge semicircular square sits in the park Maria Luisa, the main park in Sevilla, stretching along the river Guadalquivir; it was designed by Architect Anibal Gonzalez to showcase Spain’s industries and technology during the Expo.
The main building in the square hosts several Government offices, on the outside the tiled alcoves represents each Spanish province.
It’s a tradition for Spanish tourists to have pictures taken in front of the alcove representing their native province.
The grandest mansions built for the fair at the end of the park are home to several museums.
The complex is decorated with thousand of Azulejos, painted ceramic tiles typical of Sevilla.
The Alcazar is the oldest royal palace still in service in Europe. It was built by the Almohads, a Berber dynasty, as a fort, in the 12th century. It was subsequently rebuilt in 1364 for the Christian ruler Pedro I (“The Cruel”).
The palace is arranged in sections on three side of a rectangular courtyard.
The entrance is trough an arch in the old Almohad walls, the Puerta Del Leon.
The first large patio after the entrance is the Patio de la Monteria, featuring the beautiful facade of the Palacio del Rey Don Pedro.
Next after the Palacio del Rey Don Pedro is the stunning Patio De Las Doncellas, with his central fountain and reflecting pool, surrounded by beautiful halls, featuring carved wood doors and ceilings and multicolored dados (tiled panels). The lower section of the patio was built for king Peter who’s described in several inscriptions on the walls as the sultan.
The name of the patio refers to the myth of the Muslim rulers requiring 100 virgins to be given by the Christian kingdom every year.
The next patio is a smaller interior courtyard, finely decorated, which was considered the focal point of the private area of King Pedro’s palace: the Patio de las Muñecas (Patio of the Dolls). The public focal point was the Patio De Las Doncellas.
The ancient baths sitting under the Patio del Crucero are known as Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla, named after the mistress of Peter the Cruel.
The largest remaining portion of the Alcazar complex is occupied by the wonderful gardens.
The complex was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.