This weekend, I returned to Spain’s lovely Andalusia region and visited Sevilla and Cordoba. Both cities lie along the Guadalquivir River. My first stop was Sevilla, which is actually Kansas City’s sister city. The famous Giralda Tower in Sevilla, once the tallest tower in the world, has a replica in the Kansas City Plaza.
The tower is attached to the beautiful and enormous cathedral that was built over the footprint of the mosque that was built by the Moors. I went on an illuminating tour of the city that explained the city’s influential and complicated history over about the last 1500 years. Sevilla lies in a strategic place along the river. The city has been ruled by Romans, Moors, and Christians. At one point, the city held Jews, Christians, and Muslims living in the same city without conflict.
I spent the next morning in the incredible Real Alcazar of Seville, a palace again originally build by the Moors. The style, called mudejar, is distinct and so beautiful.
Although the architecture was so beautiful, my favorite place in the palace was the gardens. The walled garden grounds are expansive. I went early enough in the morning that there were fewer people around, and it was a very peaceful place. I so easily could transport myself back in time with the absence of city noises. I’m sure it was quite the luxury being royalty and living there.
Sevilla was an influential city in the 1500s and 1600s because it was the only place where trade with the Americas could legally take place. This made Sevilla a very important commercial and cultural center. Related to trading in the Americas, the Archivo General de Indias (General Archive of the Indies) stores more than 80 million pages of documents in regards to the Spanish presence in the Americas and in the Phillipines. It was fascinating seeing plans, reading letters, and viewing city schematics from hundreds of years ago. The building neighbors the cathedral and is beautiful in its own right. Below, you can see the grand staircase and the courtyard.
Another famous place in Sevilla is the Plaza de España. The plaza is in the middle of a large park. In its center is an enormous town hall; the outside is decorated with alcoves for each of the fifty provinces in Spain.
I found Valencia!
Sevilla has an important role in Spanish history, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see it for myself, wander its winding streets, and hear some of the many stories from the city.