My velvet escape travel tip: Sevilla

My velvet escape travel tip” is a guest series about what the name ‘Velvet Escape’ evokes and what that would be in the hometown of the guest writer. With this series, I hope to uncover travel tips from places around the world to help visitors have a truly local experience.

A street in Seville

A street in Seville

Seville intoxicates, that’s for sure. Its temperatures blaze for most of the year, alongside its passions for two of Spain’s most iconic – and controversial – traditions: bullfighting and flamenco. While polka-dot dancers reserve their castanets for the tourist crowds, you can find the stomp of real flamenco in bars across the city: fierce-eyed dancers driving their feet into the stage, men wailing in song to the guitar notes that incite them. Dried ham, jamón serrano, hangs from the ceilings in smoky tapas bars, alongside bull head trophies and framed photos of matadors arching backwards, swords poised for the kill.

Then there’s the heat. The tightly-knit streets of the Santa Cruz barrio criss-cross together to drive out the sun and locals block every window with thick-slatted shutters during the day. The horse-drawn carts, orange trees and flowering courtyards create a romantic atmosphere, the smells of the summer drains do not.

That’s when you need a velvet escape. A cool breeze or a sheltered retreat.

Inside the Real Alcazar

Inside the Real Alcazar

Try the Real Alcázar, a former palace and series of courtyards, whose curious geography reminds me of a collection of Russian dolls. In its heyday, the Alcázar served as a Moorish palace, decorated with intricate carved arches and gentle fountains. It then housed arguably the world’s most powerful people at the time: Isabella and Ferdinand, the catholic monarchs who funded Columbus’s expeditions from within these very walls and then catalogued the gold and silver that returned.

The Real Alcazar Gardens

The Real Alcazar Gardens

That’s the attraction of the Alcázar, but for a true velvet escape walk on through to the Royal Gardens. Landscaped palm trees and figs, pavilions and waterways unfold from the central buildings, pathways branching further and further away from the crowds. Finally the air smells fresh and the heat soothes instead of sears. Shady spaces beneath the old walls are usually deserted, except for a few strutting peacocks, tails fanning open in an explosion of blue and gold. In flamboyant Seville, even the birds put on a show.

About this week’s guest writer
Abigail King Abigail King is a professional writer with a passion for travel. She left a successful career in medicine to circle the globe, camp in the snows of Kilimanjaro and Patagonia and track down tigers, turtles and panda bears. She then had a hot shower and embraced the city life of New York, Rio, Paris and Tokyo.

Read more about her travels at Inside the Travel Lab, a blog on the art and science of unusual journeys.

Follow Abigail on Twitter.

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12 Responses to “My velvet escape travel tip: Sevilla”

  1. 20/11/2014 3:19 pm

    Sevilla is great! But indeed, in summer, extremely hot! Try to avoid July and August!

    If you have some more time, don’t forget Cordoba en Granada, just 1 hour away by car / train and also worth the visit. Smaller than Sevilla, but still very nice. More info on our blog:

  2. velvet 24/08/2011 2:51 pm

    It’s scorching in Innsbruck. Pffffff!

  3. Abi 24/08/2011 1:02 pm

    Sooo hot right now…I’m fleeing to hopefully a cooler Austria!

  4. Rachel 24/08/2011 7:58 am

    You´re are so right Abby, Seville is intoxicating and addictive but best, for me anyway, when the heat of the summer has abated a little.

    Seriously don´t go unless you´re immune to addictions!

  5. nest hostels 25/07/2010 4:01 pm

    I got to tell u that in Granada there is one of the best hostels … The white nest is just an amazing place to rest, to have fun and to meet great people. It is located in the heart of the Albayzin just a few meters of Paseo de los Tristes and the Alhambra palace. So I recommend you to stay in Hostels Granada.

  6. Lisa @ The World is Calling 25/04/2010 2:12 am

    Mmm…totally makes me want to go. Making notes…

  7. Abi from Inside the Travel Lab 10/03/2010 1:48 pm

    Thanks – it’s a fascinating place – but not all that easy to travel around in the summer heat!

  8. Travel Blogs 12/01/2010 4:19 pm

    That street with the oranges looks so much like Rome heading to Piazza Bologna

  9. Adam Axon 11/01/2010 4:54 pm

    Thanks Abigail, you do a great job of making Seville sound appealing!

    One of my friends absolutely loves Seville. It’s definitely one of the places I want to spend some time in when I finally get into Spain!



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