By Regina Winkle-Bryan
When I first moved to Spain six and a half years ago, I went to Sevilla with a friend. It was February, and the southern city was gray, cold, and rainy. We saw the sights, ate tapas, and even managed to see an authentic flamenco performance at some dive with sawdust on the floor and cheap beer.
The highlight of the trip for us both, was El Real Alcázar. Being off-season, we had the enormous palace and acres of gardens to ourselves. He and I spent hours there, wandering the tiled halls, sitting beside bubbling green fountains, and talking about the eccentric Kings that lived in
El Real Alcázar over the years. Though it was a good trip, I did not leave Sevilla then with an urge to return. Maybe it was the weather that colored my impression of the place?
Recently, I went back to Sevilla (or Seville in English), more or less by coincidence. The trees lining the boulevards were in bloom, the sky was a rich blue, a breeze blew the heat from the streets, and I was enchanted. It seemed like a totally different place than it was four years back. Or maybe I am different? Either way, I was sold. Sevilla is worth a good week of exploration, and deserves the reputation it has as being one of Southern Spain’s most beautiful cities.
After tapas, we went to El Real Alcázar again. This time I got the audio guide (I have a thing for the guided tour!) and wandered around the massive palace with the guide stuck to my ear. I learned a lot, but would like to point out that the audio guide in no way matched up to the numbers occasionally placed around the palace. It was all very confusing.
Also, I found the audio guide a tad on the dramatic side, to the point of being funny. Who writes those guided tours? Was it meant to be sarcastic? If you can bear it then get the audio guide, but if you are impatient and easily annoyed by badly written script then skip it, and be your own guide through El Real Alcázar.
When we left El Real Alcázar I wondered if I did not in fact like it better than Granada’s Alhambra. Both are magnificent, but there is something about the Alcázar that is so elegant, rich, and textured and somehow more intimate than the Alhambra. What do you think? Have you visited these historical Spanish sites?
More on El Real Alcázar Here: http://www.patronato-alcazarsevilla.es/