Why go to Seville?
What I love best about Seville is that even after 18 years it can still take my breath away. The architecture is stunning, the parks and squares are both beautiful and inviting, and the sky is almost always a beautiful bright shiny blue.
People come to see the many impressive monuments and museums in Seville, but one of the most pleasant pastimes is to just throw away your map and enjoy wandering through the labyrinth of small winding streets and little squares that make up the Barrio Santa Cruz and the old Jewish Quarter. At almost every turn there is something unexpected to be seen, a glimpse of a patio through an open door, a rooftop terrace, a fountain or a statue, or you can sit outside a bar or cafe, and watch the world go by for a while.
Having said that, there are actually some monuments in Seville that shouldn’t be missed. The Cathedral is a massive Gothic masterpiece and it is truly worth the long climb up to the top of the Giralda Tower for the best view of the city. Don't worry, there are ramps going up rather than stairs, which makes it much easier. The Royal Palace (Alcázar) and Gardens are exquisite, and the first time I laid eyes on the Plaza de España I was well and truly gobsmacked.
The Holy Week Processions
The Easter Week celebrations in Seville are the most popular and well-known in all of Spain. For a whole week there are processions and more processions - it's really non-stop. Even if you aren't religious it can be quite an amazing experience, though don't expect to see the "real Seville" during this time.
The Feria de Abril
The April spring fair dates back to when it was first a livestock market held in the Prado San Sebastian - these days it's more an opportunity to socialise in typical Sevillano fashion. The present-day feria takes place in a large area at the edge of Los Remedios where casetas are set up, horses are paraded during the day, and people dress up in their flamenco attire to dance and sing and eat and drink the night away.
People come to Seville for a chance to see real live flamenco, and there are several places in town where they can do so, but for me the very best opportunity is during the Biennel de Flamenco which is held every other year starting in September.
Seville is the birthplace of tapas and there are tapas bars and restaurants galore here. Best to check inside before taking a seat, or a place at the bar - if the place is full of locals then you are more likely to get a good meal. You can find everything from typical old bars serving basic traditional fare to modern trendy gastrobars that offer tapas with a twist. I like a bit of both, especially as they are all using fresh Mediterranean ingredients.
With an average of over 320 sunny days a year the odds are pretty good that you will get some nice weather while you are here. There are occasional rainy winters, and in July and August the heat is tremendous, but for most of the year it is very pleasant for walking around town and also sitting outside on the many terraces for something to eat and drink.
People in Seville live out in the streets and enjoy a laid-back lifestyle that is much envied by those from colder climates and more reserved cultures.
For about three weeks every spring (usually late February to mid-March) the orange trees are in blossom and all the streets in Seville smell like heaven. They say that orange blossom (azahar) is a natural sedative, which may account for its soothing effect. All I know is that the gentle fragrance filling my home and the streets always makes me smile and it probably goes without saying that this is my favourite time of year.