Seville, the largest city in Southern Spain, was founded by the Romans, and later fell under Moorish control in 712 while they ruled Spain. After the discovery of the Americas, Seville became a vibrant economic, cultural and artistic center. Nowadays, the city boasts a rich culture that is deeply indebted to the past but fully invested in the present. For those arriving in Spain, Seville can be quickly accessed by the Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) rail system that operates between Madrid and Seville.
In the heart of Seville, La Brunilda, a cozy tapas place with high ceilings and exposed brick walls run by chef Diego Caminos and wife Esperanza, an expert enologist, features a chalkboard menu, which offers a modern take on traditional tapas. Standouts include the duck confit with carrot purée, the grilled presa Ibérica with sweet potato, the chipirones with eggy migas, the grilled octopus, and the best snack-sized beef burger in the city, which is served on a black sesame seed bun with soy mayo and sweet potato fries. La Brunilda offers daily specials, and a spectacular wine selection, courtesy of Esperanza.
Casa de la Guitarra
In 2010, the UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. No trip to Seville would be complete without taking in a flamenco show, such as the ones showcased at Casa de la Guitarra. Located in an eighteenth-century home in the old Jewish neighborhood of Santa Cruz near the cathedral, Casa de la Guitarra, headed by award-winning guitarist José Luis Postigo, offers a master class in all things flamenco, the folk music tradition of Southern Spain, including guitar playing, singing, and dancing. Casa de la Guitarra features two one-hour shows daily at 7:30 pm and 9 pm. The center also displays a priceless collection of Spanish guitars. The center also offers private shows for groups, and flamenco guitar and dance lessons for all levels. Guests are asked to book ahead.
The Real Alcázar, featured on Game of Thrones, was originally built for King Peter of Castile on the site of an Abbadid Muslim residential fortress, which was destroyed after the Christian conquest of Seville. The palace is a preeminent example of Mudéjar architecture. The top levels are used by the royal family as their official residence in Seville. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, the Alcázar features several sections, including the Puerta del León, the main entrance that features a 19th inlaid tile mural of a crowned lion holding a cross in its claws, the Patio de las Doncellas, which includes lavish reception rooms and a large reflecting pool with gardens on both sides, and The Salon de Embajadores, a richly decorated room, which was used in 1526, by Emperor Charles V and Isabella of Portugal to celebrate their marriage.
Perro Viejo, a trendy new eatery, is popular among upwardly mobile young Sevillanos. Featuring a sleek yet inviting interior with three floors built around a central courtyard with an olive tree, the restaurant is headed by chef Antonio Martín, who was raised in the US and learned his trade in Spain. Favorites include the black rice with saffron aioli, char-grilled ribs, chicken skewers, smoked sardines, braised leeks with truffle hollandaise, and the city’s best patatas bravas. For dessert try the torrijas, which are similar to French toast and topped with cinnamon and sugar. At Perro Viejo, the service is impeccable and the wine list is superb.
Seville offers a wealth of cultural and artistic treasures at every turn. The city is home to numerous museums, such as the Museum of Fine Arts of Seville, which was established in 1835 and holds masterworks by Murillo, Pacheco, Zurbarán, and Valdés Leal, as well as Flemish paintings of the 15th and 16th centuries. Other museums include The Archaeological Museum, showing collections from the Tartessian, Roman, Almohad, and Christian periods, The Museum of Arts and Traditions, The Andalusian Contemporary Art Center, The Flamenco Art Museum, and The Bullfighting Museum, in the La Maestranza bullring. Local festivals include the Bienal de Flamenco, touted as the biggest flamenco event worldwide, the Holy Week in Seville, which features traditional music and art, and the Seville Fair, which includes a week of dancing, drinking, and socializing while dressed in traditional flamenco attire.