Cadiz is your gateway to this storied land and the city of Seville. Mention Spain and the images that inevitably spring to mind are images of Andalusia – shadows falling across the bullring, the staccato rhythms of flamenco, the waft of orange blossoms from a Moorish garden.
Visit Seville’s massive Alcazar fortress, modeled on the legendary Alhambra Palace of Granada. See the city’s cathedral, a 15th-century Gothic masterwork that boasts a Moorish patio, fountain, and minaret. Seville is also the legendary home of Don Juan, Bizet’s Carmen, and Rossini’s Barber of Seville.
Cadiz is one’s of Europe’s oldest inhabited cities, dating from 1100 B.C., and your gateway to Seville and Andalusia.
A SEVILLANO PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Sevillanos are very well-known, throughout Spain and the wider world, for their fierce pride in their city.
They are, first and foremost, from Seville; secondly, from Andalucia; and a distant third, from Spain. Goings on in Madrid are of little interest to a Sevillano, while Barcelona may as well be in another country.
For them, life revolves around tapas (see below, Anyone for Tapas?), bullfighting, Semana Santa and Feria. In the summer, there´s the beach – in Cadiz or Huelva regions and all winter long, they discuss and plan their Feria outfit endlessly – color, cut, hem length, and accessories, with the atmosphere reaching fever pitch as Spring arrives and the whirlwind of Seville´s annual social events season gets underway.
Sevillanos see no need to venture beyond their Sevilla, where things stay the same year after year, and change is not generally welcomed. Visitors to Seville will find this attitude both endearing and exasperating, but always intriguing.
Sevilla is beloved of movie and TV directors for its range of well-preserved buildings from every era and style, from medieval to regionalist.
Parque Maria Luisa´s Expo 1929 buildings are popular spots: Plaza de España, with its bizarre architectural hotchpotch of sweeping circular façade, neo-Moorish arches and Venetian bridges, was planet Naboo´s Theed Palace in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and the presidential palace in The Dictator. In the classic Lawrence of Arabia, its Palacio Español doubled as the Cairo Officers´ Club, while the park´s Plaza de las Americas was Jerusalem, and the nearby Casino was Damascus Town Hall.
Casa de Pilatos was used in the crusades movie Kingdom of Heaven, starring Orlando Bloom, as well as in 1492: Conquest of Paradise, about Christopher Columbus (see the Cathedral-Columbus Controversy, Fact 7). Some Lawrence scenes were also filmed here, while the Alcazar appeared as the court of the King of Jerusalem in the Kingdom. And most notably, scenes from Game of Thrones were also filmed at the Royal Palace.
When you visit Seville, you will undoubtedly go out for tapas. These small, tasty dishes, now found all over the world, originated in Sevilla. As with most traditional and much-loved activities, theories abound on the word´s origin- some say it started off as a slice of ham or bread, used to cover a wine glass as a lid (tapa), to stop dust or flies getting in; others, that since people often drink standing up, they had to put their plates on top of their glasses Whatever the truth, tapas are a way of life here – you arrive at a tapas bar, order some dishes to share, eat, drink, talk, and then go on to the next place.
The activity even has its own vocabulary: tapear is to go out for tapas, tapeo is the activity itself, while a tapeador is someone who eats tapas. Typical local tapas in Seville include spinach and chickpeas, baby squid, and Iberian ham.