Most of our posts are about our British adventures but every now and then, we like to take you somewhere a bit further away so we’re off to Seville!
A gastronomic walking tour of Seville
I travelled to Spain for an overnight strategy session for the day job but in between the strategising, we managed to take in the sights.
I only really had an afternoon to explore, so was delighted to hear we were booked in for a walking tour with Devour Food Tours.
The company provides 3-4 hour strolls around the city with local guides filling you in on the history and traditions with stops at local bars for tapas and drinks. What’s not to like?!
I must admit I knew very little about the southern Spanish city other than its association with oranges and flamenco. And while those two things featured a lot on the trip, I discovered that Seville is about so much more.
Kicking off the tour in El Rinconcillo, Seville’s oldest bar founded in 1670, we sipped vermouth as our passionate and entertaining guide set the scene for the afternoon ahead.
The traditional tipple has experienced somewhat of a renaissance over recent years in Spain.
Infused with botanicals such as cinnamon, cardamom and ginger, bars create their own unique vermouth and I was pleasantly surprised by the sample on offer.
As with many Spanish drinks, vermouth is often enjoyed with ham. In El Rinconcillo, like most bars in the city, pig legs hang from the ceiling ready to be sliced.
Being a veggie, I didn’t partake but our guide had been briefed so a tasty spinach dish was served up for me.
We then set out into the city and wandered down gorgeous street after gorgeous street with history oozing from every corner.
We learnt lots such as Seville’s Arabic influences after being conquered by the Moors in 712. That influence is reflected in many of the city’s churches which were former mosques.
And we were told that the trees of juicy looking oranges remain so full due to the sour taste of the fruit. Tourists may be put off from picking them but that’s good news for Britain’s love for marmalade!
My favourite part of the tour was the stunning old Jewish quarter. Next to a square lined by orange trees, we heard the story of Susana Ben Susón, better known as La Susona.
The legend has it that at the start of the Spanish Inquisition, Susona’s father was one of the leaders plotting a Jewish fightback. She feared the direction the conspiracy was heading in and told her husband who informed the authorities and Susona’s father was sentenced to death.
She felt so guilty for betraying her father that she hid in a convent and requested that her head be hung from the door of her house to remain people of her betrayal after she died. A plaque now marks the place where it is believed her skull was displayed.
At the heart of the city is the spectacular Seville Cathedral.
The largest gothic cathedral and third largest church in the world, it’s on the site of the Aljama mosque, built in the late 12th century by the Almohads, the ruling Moorish dynasty.
The cathedral is home to the remains of Christopher Columbus, a fact which was disputed for a century by Cuba and the Dominican Republic but in 2006 researchers confirmed that Spain has the right bones.
It’s hard to describe in words just how stunning the cathedral.
Our brilliant tour finished in Taberna Álvaro Peregil, a tiny bar which is so small our group filled the space immediately.
It’s famous for homemade vino de naranja (orange wine) which it has been selling since 1904. We enjoyed some alongside yummy Manchego cheese (video evidence below) and tomato gazpacho soup.
Plaza de España
Before heading back to Bristol the next day, I managed to fit in a quick visit to Plaza de España, built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929.
The square is a huge semi-circular brick building with ornately decorated alcoves representing Spain’s 48 provinces.
We even got a taste of flamenco (see a video clip below) as we strolled around in the warm afternoon sunshine (in sharp contrast to the pics of Bristol in the snow Nina had sent me that morning!).
36 hours was nowhere near long enough for a visit to Seville.
I couldn’t stop telling Nina all about when I got home so we must go back!
El Rinconcillo, the oldest bar in Seville
The legend of Susona, Barrio Santa Cruz
Taberna Alvaro Peregil