Seville (Sevilla), Spain
We chose Seville (or Sevilla), the seat of Andalusia, for the millennium celebration, and with good reason! Seville is a beautiful city with an air of romance that captivates its visitors. Even though it's a large metropolis, we felt its special Andalusian charm (in the middle of winter no less)! The acclaim of Don Juan and Carmen made this town famous for romantic images of orange trees, mantilla-clad beauties, flower-filled patios, and the passionate castanet-clicking flamenco dances.
We arrived in Seville on the evening of December 30, leaving us one day to organize our Millennium Eve activities. The only regret I have about visiting during this time is that nearly all the attractions were closed. Nevertheless, we had a grand time here, and it was the best New Year celebration I've ever had.
We stayed with a wonderful family while in Seville near Plaza Macarena, a family that just reinforced the Spanish's reputation as the friendliest people in Europe! Mrs. Rodriguez was a French lady who rented us her two spare rooms for a few days, and we communicated using French! Her son Miguel was a tour guide and spoke very good English. He came to meet us at the bus stop, took us to dinner at a local pub, and hung out with us until midnight! In the morning, we woke late, but a FEAST of a breakfast was waiting for us on the table. We love this place!
This is a picture of the Torre del Oro (tower of gold) on the bank of the Guadalquivir River. Built in the 13th century, it was once covered with golden tiles (hence the name). Now it's a museum (closed for the new year of course).
This is the bull ring in Seville (closed). We chose a charming little restaurant (El Patio Sevillano) near here for our celebration dinner and flamenco dancing.
The façade of the gothic Catedral. This is the largest gothic building in the world and the third largest church in Europe after St. Peter's in Rome and St. Paul's in London. It claims to house the remains of Christopher Columbus. Unfortunately, it was closed and we couldn't explore its rich cache of historic artifacts. There are also too many buildings close by or I would have gotten a much better picture of the church.
The only tourist attraction we were able to find open today is the Reales Alcázar, a 14th century palace and the oldest royal residence in Europe that's still in use. Ferdinand and Isabella welcomed Columbus here after his return from America. It evokes images of the Alhambra in Granada. Here we are near its entrance.
Inside the Alcázar are beautiful gardens, ponds, courtyards, and buildings. You can see the Moorish influence in the lacy arches in front of the buildings.
A beautiful pond in the Alcázar with a statue in the middle.
The Alcázar has a prominade surrounding some of its gardens. We strolled down this walkway, and here Scott pauses for a photo.
This is part of the palace gardens (Jardines de Murillo).
A photo of a guard tower at the edge of the Alcázar.
Beautifully sculpted evergreens in the garden.
The most famous monument in Seville is La Giralda, a 12th century Moorish tower next to the Catedral. There are 16th century bells inside, and it offers a commanding view of Seville. But of course it was closed. Bummer!
By this time we were frustrated with everything being closed and headed for one site that we knew would be open -- the park! A starving mother cat and her kitten try to make do in the winter. They live in the park next to Plaza de España. I wished we had some food with us!
This is a front view of the gorgeous Plaza de España, a semicircle of fabulous Renaissance architecture. Now it's a government office building. It was built for the 1929 Spanish American Exhibition, and resides in a corner of the Parque María Luisa.
At the ends of the semicirclular building are these beautiful Renaissance style towers.
A panoramic (sort-of) view of the Plaza. At the base of the arches are 50 alcoves richly decorated with tile murals depicting scenes from each of Spain's provinces. It's a great place to take a rest and watch the tourist and locals stroll by. You can rent rowboats here and explore the waterways inside the plaza and the park.
A winter scene in Parque María Luisa. This was once a royal park dedicated to María Luisa, the sister of Isabella II. Now the park is open to the public.
Michelle and June resting in the park. A beautiful calico cat followed us around in the park after this photo.
Michelle feeds doves in the park at Plaza America. She patiently tries to get the doves to land on her. Unfortunately bunches of crazy kids keep scaring them away as soon as they get close to her.
A charming little church (Basilica Macarena) was open near where we stayed. This is a picture of the gilded main altar inside.