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31+ Things to Do in Seville

Seville is one of Spain’s most beautiful and popular cities, attracting tourists from around the world. This gem deserves a lot of time, and to fill it, Seville offers a great selection of activities for visitors.

Places to See

Museums

Activities

Seville is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to and it has a tremendous amount to do surrounding its rich art and history. It’s an art, history, and architecture lover’s dream city, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to visit it.

What is your favourite thing to do in Seville?

Posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 in Destinations
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Highlight: Ronda

Ronda is a small town in Andalusia and it’s a popular spot for tourists, especially because of its super tall bridge. I opted to go here as part of a day trip but I have to be honest; the blog posts I found made it sound like there wasn’t much to do in this small town. When I got there as part of an organised trip, we were given a good walking tour and a little over an hour to explore. That was not nearly enough time. The town actually has a large number of things to do, especially for people who love architecture.

With all my highlight blog posts, I aim to tell you what I did. However, I also hope to inform you about what I missed.

Ronda

A little bit of history: Like many other Andalusian towns, Ronda has a lengthy history that dates back to prehistoric and Roman times. It fell into the hands of the visigoths, the Arabs, and the Christians. In 713, Ronda was even the capital of a province called Tacoronna – however it was never a super important centre. Bullfighting even originates as an organised sport in Ronda. Dating to the 18th century, Ronda holds Spain’s first bullfighting ring and they celebrate their heritage with a festival (more below). More recently, Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles spent a lot of time in Ronda. You can see their sculptures in the city today.

Unfortunately, the city suffered an earthquake within recent centuries – probably the one of 1884 – that destroyed much of the town. Though you’ll see Ronda is quite beautiful, the town did need to be rebuilt and most of it is not very ancient.

Ronda Ronda

Of course the main attraction of Ronda is the bridge, which actually is very impressive in person. It’s called Puente Nuevo and it was completed in 1793 to connect the “old town” and the “new town” together. If you’re inclined to get a complete photo of the bridge, you can take a path down at the intersection of Calle Tenorio and Calle Sor Angela De La Cruz. The photo area takes about 20 minutes to get to from the bridge itself, but does of course involve a steep uphill climb back. You can also get good views at Casa don Bosco (more on that below).

Ronda

The city is super pleasant to walk around. If you want a good view of the countryside, Mirador de Ronda has a beautiful garden with a cliff overhang. It’s right next to the bullfighting ring of Ronda, the oldest one in Spain. You can still visit the bullfighting ring but they actually don’t have bullfights here except for during their big festival, Feria de Pedro Romero. Here you can also see some statues of Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway. Our tour guide said that you can also take the elevator atop Hotel Catalonia Ronda to get a view inside the ring if you want that photo.

Bullring, Ronda

Mirador de Ronda

Some other popular places to stop by include Iglesia de la Merced and Iglesia de Santa Maria la Mayor. The latter is also located on a picturesque square. Some less popular spots to see include two older bridges, Puente Viejo and the Arab Bridge, which isn’t super attractive but is centuries old! Many people also don’t realise that Ronda still has its old walls. If you go towards the south of the town, you can see Puerta de Almocábar and some of the old city walls. They date back about 800 years!

In this area, you can also see the ruins of Castillo del Laurel and the Alcazaba.

Iglesia de la Merced, Ronda Iglesia de Santa Maria la Mayor, Ronda

There are also several buildings you can go into. I opted to visit Casa don Basco, which has great views of the Puente Nuevo without the walk. It’s a house museum which is very cute, but is not particularly special against some other places. However, the gardens are small but absolutely gorgeous. The tiles, the view, the flowers, the fountain, and the alcove – they’re all very delightful. Entry is only about 2 euros so I highly recommend stopping by. Other travellers on my tour opted to see the Casa del Rey Moro, which they enjoyed as well. What’s unique is that it’s a water mine, and you can go down and see the river from the house. It looks very beautiful in pictures.

Puente Nuevo, Ronda Casa don Bosco, Ronda

Also beautiful in pictures, Mondragon Palace also looks amazing. I wish I’d had time to visit here as well. Also worth mentioning are the Arab Baths, which are well preserved and – as you can guess – date back centuries to the Arab rule of Ronda.

Ronda

Ronda also has a few smaller museums and places to see, but it really is a charming place to walk around. I really enjoyed it and wish I could’ve stayed to see a few more sites. If you go to Ronda, which I do recommend, you should spend several hours or a day there. A lot of people stop by to see the bridge but there’s so much more to Ronda than that.

Have you ever been to Ronda? What did you think?

Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 in Destinations
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Highlight: the Alhambra

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Alhambra in Granada is often deemed one of the must-sees of southern Spain. It’s an architectural splendor with very well preserved palaces and gardens. It’s the most visited monument in Spain and is very well deserving of the title.

The Alhambra

Please note that this sells out months in advance so you will need to book your ticket ahead of time.

The Alhambra

Andalusia’s history revolves around its many kingdoms and the changes that occurred over time. The Nasrid Kingdom was an Islamic one and was the last Muslim state in western Europe. In 1238, the Sultan made Granada the seat of the court. He chose to build on top of a hill, which as you can see today is very grand and also quite beautiful. The Alhambra (meaning “the red” in Arabic) was intended to be a fortress and was built to be much like a palatine city. Of course the palaces were built to house royalty but also had amenities for the others who lived on the property. The Nasrid Empire fell in 1492 and the Catholic Monarchs made construction changes to the great structure already there to make it more Christian. However we can see today that its Muslim origins are much more prominent.

The Alhambra was neglected until the mid-1800s, when it became a popular tourist site as it still is today.

The Alhambra

The Nasrid Palace is absolutely gorgeous, and I cannot stress that enough! Though it feels like one big palace, the Nasrid Palaces actually consist of the Mexuar, Comares and Palace of the Lions. You start your tour off in the Mexuar. This was built in the early 1300s for administrative use, but its beauty sets the tone for what you’ll see during the rest of your visit. Since it’s one of the shortest areas in the palaces, without such high ceilings, you can see much more detail along the ceiling and the top of the walls. Absolutely gorgeous.

Detail, Alhambra Detail, Alhambra

The Comares Palace came a few decades later and was intended to separate the public and private spaces. The most recognisable space is the Court of the Myrtles, which wraps around a large pool of water. However, the most divine space in my opinion is the Throne Room. It’s large and though quite dark, there is an incredible amount of detail in this space. It’s exemplary of why the Alhambra is so well visited. It also has a unique roof/ceiling made of intricately carved wood (I think).

Court of the Myrtles, Alhambra

Detail, Alhambra Detail, Alhambra

The Palace of the Lions is the most iconic interior (exterior?) of the Alhambra. The courtyard has porticos that are festooned with divine carving. The centre is the namesake, a fountain with lion statues. Each of the 12 lions is actually different in some way. Water flows in four directions from the centre, which is symbolic of the four rivers of Muslim paradise. Of course, getting water to the top of a hill/mountain was a great feat in history, so this space would’ve been even more impressive centuries ago. There are a few rooms off of the courtyard, all very well preserved and carved. My favourite feature is the muqarnas ceilings, which is also described as “honeycomb.”

Detail, Alhambra Court of the Lions, Alhambra

One of my favourite spots in the palace was the Hall of the Kings, which is another highly festooned area that actually has a few Christian paintings in the alcoves. It’s one of the only times you remember that this place was once converted to a Christian space. I also really liked the Hall of the Two Sisters. It too is exquisitely decorated. This is where you’ll start your exit.

Hall of the Kings, Alhambra Hall of the Two Sisters, Alhambra

Towards the end of your tour, you can walk through the Christian rooms. Some were closed off when I was there. Though their history is still fascinating, these rooms aren’t much compared to the others. You can also see the baths before exiting to the beautiful gardens. I recommend spending some time here as well.

Gardens of the Alhambra

Without a ticket, you can explore the Charles V Palace. It’s a very grand square and circular palace that was erected in 1527, and it was actually intended to be a symbol of religious unity as King Charles V decided to not tear down the spectacular work the Muslims created. It’s a very Italian-style building, as it was built by an Italian. You can only go inside a small portion of the Palace to see some artefacts in a small museum.

Charles V Palace, Alhambra

Your ticket also includes entrance to the Alcazaba, which is the ruins of the fortress and palatine city. You can clearly see how the centre was laid out, but it is a ruin so it’s slightly less exciting than the palace. There’s also the Generalife, which you’ll actually have to access outside of the Alhambra grounds. Admission is included in your ticket.

Alcazaba, Alhambra

You will need to buy tickets months in advance so please purchase them as soon as you can!

Also, let me warn you that this is a very very steep climb. I walk a lot and am pretty healthy but it was difficult for me. I’d recommend taking the shuttle or bus up. There are a few places around town where you can catch them.

Granada

The city of Granada is also beautiful and has a lot to do. It deserves more time than I gave it. If you’re a slow traveller or are looking to get to know the city, you’ll need a full day in Granada alone without the Alhambra.

Granada, Spain

Granada, Spain

Granada has been a fortified site since the 800s, only a few centuries before the Alhambra was built. Much of its history revolves around the Alhambra.

Granada has many gates, one of which being the Gate of Elvira. This is a large gate that today stands between the old parts of the city and the new parts. Another place to visit is the Cathedral of Granada. Though the area surrounding it is quite touristy, it’s also beautiful and gives off a medieval town feel since the streets are so narrow. The souvenirs here consist of pottery and nuts, so it’s also fun to window shop and see all the ceramics and housewares, and try a few snacks.

When you pass to the other side of Calle Gran Via de Colon, the feel becomes much more modern and this area is more prone to restaurants. This is where you can go up to Albaicin, the old part of town that you can see in many views from the palace. It is a residential area so much slower. However, if you go to the Mezquita Mayor de Granada or the Mirador San Nicolas, you can get fantastic hillside views of the Alhambra. It’s a quiet but nice walk up, and for a fit person may take about half an hour.

Granada, Spain Granada, Spain

There’s also a handful of small house and art museums to visit around Granada. I wanted to visit Carmen de los Martires but it was closed when I went by. However, the Alhambra was so magnificent that it sucked up a lot of my energy for appreciating interiors that day. I needed some time to process the beauty I’d just beheld before moving onto another architectural highlight. I almost did a Hammam (Turkish bath), which would’ve been a great way to relax and rest my sore body. I did one in Seville (blog post coming soon) and recommend it.

I really enjoyed the Alhambra and haven’t geeked out over a place as hard in a long time. Architecture and history isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I feel like even the nonchalant would enjoy this splendor. If you couldn’t tell by now, yes, I do highly recommend visiting!

Court of the Lions, Alhambra

Have you ever been to the Alhambra? What did you think?

Posted on Thursday, March 5, 2020 in Destinations
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