Karie on Jun 19th 2008 06:37 pm
We can now say that we have seen the three largest Cathedrals in the world: St. Peter’s Basilica (Vatican City), St Paul’s Cathedral (London), and Catedral de Santa María de la Sede (Seville). I’ve lost track of how many bell towers I’ve climbed, but it seems we never pass up the opportunity, and this was no exception. However, one of the most unique things about this particular Cathedral is that it houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus (known as Cristóbal Colón, in Spanish).
While we were waiting in line to enter the Cathedral, I couldn’t help but overhear an American who apparently lives in Seville, and was temporarily reducing himself to this level of tourism only for the sake of his friend who was visiting. When someone came through the line passing out flyers for a flamenco show, he began to ramble, “Oh look, you can pay to see flamenco. Why would anyone do that? I would never pay to watch flamenco, blah, blah, blah.…”
We were aware that you can easily find free Flamenco shows in bars and restaurants, which is really fun, and usually pretty good. However, it’s also possible to find free live music in the streets, restaurants or subway tunnels around the world… but that is not the same as going to a professional concert. All options can be great, but the paid show is just in another league.
The Casa de la Memoria de Al-Andalus Flamenco show was rated as the #1 activity in the city on Trip Advisor, so we decided to check it out, despite the know-it-all’s criticism. (By the way, this was not the show handing out flyers at the Cathedral… I’m sure there are plenty of second-rate shows out there, so do your research in advance.) This particular show was priced at 14€/ticket, which is quite reasonable considering some go for 30€, or more if it includes dinner. The show consisted of one guitar player, one singer, and one dancer… it was simple, but very impressive. Oh, and there were actually Spanish people there, not just us crazy foreign tourists!
Next we hung out at the King’s vacation home for a while, the Alcázar of Seville, which was once a Moorish fort. I’ve heard that the Alhambra in Granada is a better palace, but this one wasn’t too shabby. The King’s family still vacations here, so access is closed to some areas, but we found plenty to ooh and ahh at for a couple of hours. I’m in love with Spanish architecture, tiles & gardens… even got a few ideas for our future home. Thanks King Juan Carlos!
In summary, if the King vacations here, it’s good enough for me. We found Seville to be full of life and culture around every corner. On more than one occasion we wandered into a plaza to find dozens of people just hanging out under the large canopies. This happened in various places, at various time of the day. There were people of all ages, ranging from tourists to locals meeting friends during siesta, and a few “regulars”, which I determined were the people who seemed to know the stray dogs. I also witnessed my first violin & accordion duo here, and it was probably one of the best street performances I’ve ever seen. Seville has “all things traditional” in Spain, but somehow it’s still full of pleasant surprises.