Hotel Alfonso XIII
When you think of Spanish culture, does flamenco, bullfighting, paella and Hispano-Moorish architecture come to mind? Many of the things we identify with Spanish culture are largely of Andalusian origin. Andalusia is an autonomous community in southern Spain’s prestigious Iberian Peninsula and is the most populous of the autonomous communities in the country. It is officially recognized as a historical nationality and its capital is the lovely city of Seville.
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Andalusia is home to some astonishing architecture, such as the Alhambra in Granada, the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Royal Alcázar of Seville. The Royal Alcázar (sometime known as Real Alcázar) is one of the most distinguishable and beautiful structures in Spain. Exemplifying both Moorish and Christian architectural designs due to its lengthy history, this current-day palace presents an incredibly rare mélange of cultures, religions and artistry.
The palace as it exists today was restructured in the 14th Century for King Peter of Castile-Leon upon the remains of a Muslim residential fortress destroyed after the Christian conquest of Seville. The King employed many of the same artists from Granada’s Muslim Alhambra to Seville to work on the Alcázar, hence there are notable similarities in its incredibly unique style.
Today, the Royal Alcázar is a World Heritage Site with public and private tours taking place Monday through Saturday. Numerous companies offer guided tours to teach visitors about the amazing architecture, historical significance and lovely gardens.
The Royal Alcázar’s exquisite tile work both in and outside of the palace are dazzling. Vivid yellow, green, orange and blue designs line the palace walls in intricate patterns and images, as well as the benches, fountains and floors of the gardens outdoors. The palace grounds are composed of numerous gardens and in one, a peculiar fountain towers amongst the flowers. The fountain is actually part of an ancient musical instrument, one of only four hydraulic organs in the world. It dates back to the 17th Century and plays its music using air and the fountain’s water pressure. This incredible palace is still frequented by Spain’s royal family as the official residence in Seville, making it the oldest European palace still in use.
The Royal Alcázar’s exquisite tile work both in and outside of the palace are dazzling.
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A short walk through cobblestone streets lined with little shops will lead you to the Santa Cruz quarter where you’ll find Tablao Los Gallos Flamenco. Known for the best flamenco show in Seville, perhaps in all of Spain, this little tablao holds magnificent shows nightly. Flamenco is a form of rhythmically embellished dance that involves Spanish guitar, singing, feet stomping, jaleo (vocalizations and clapping) and pitos (finger snapping).
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Each evenings’ shows combine a selection of the best “palos flamencos” and Tablao Los Gallos prides itself on how truly authentic and pure its flamenco show remains after 53 years. It has become the longest running tablao in Seville, and many of the artists here have won national and international awards.
The shows are captivating. Multiple dancers, singers and guitar players take turns on stage and the women wear beautiful billowing, ruffled dresses used to accentuate their dance with intensity and fervor. All of the artists exhibit such powerful passion as they vigorously stomp, sing or strum their guitars on stage. The dominant tone of the performance alternates between fervor and despair, projected through their furrowed faces, intense stomping and clapping, and anguish in their songs.
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After taking in a traditional flamenco show, wander back to your hotel through the lit streets and stop by a tapas bar for some sangria and chacinas (cured meats). Many of the tapas bars in Seville, and Spain in general, have meats hanging from the ceiling. It’s quite the sight and shows how seriously the Spanish people depend on and love pork and other cured meats.
Another great way to conclude a night in Seville is to get carried away—in the most romantic way—through the city by horse and carriage. This form of transport (for tourists) is prevalent in Seville and dates back to around 1880 when King Alfonso XII reigned in Spain.
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When you’re finally ready to retire, we recommend the best hotel in Seville, Hotel Alfonso XIII. It is an exquisite, historical building that was constructed to house international dignitaries for the 1929 Ibero-American Exhibition. The hotel has undergone three renovations since, retaining its amazing Moorish/Andalusian flair, and is now one of Marriott’s Luxury Collection Hotels. It is centrally located, just walking distance from the Royal Alcázar, the Guadaíra River, shopping, flamenco and tasty tapas. Throughout its history, numerous royal dignitaries and celebrities have stayed at Hotel Alfonso XIII; we suggest you join them.