Beautiful Orange-Scented Seville

OK, I know I said last month that Rome is one of the best cities in the world for strolling. But I think Seville may be even better. There’s plenty of history and good food and wine. Many streets in the center of the city are pedestrian-only, so you don’t have to dodge cars as you wander around. There are lots of parks and gardens, and in spring, the blissful scent of orange-tree blossoms fills the warm (but not yet hot) air. 

Seville is the only place I’ve seen where people tile the bottoms of their balconies as well as the tops. So don’t forget to look up!

Almost everywhere you turn, there is beautiful or fanciful architecture: brightly colored tiles, intricate iron gates, huge windows that project out like balconies, cool interior patios filled with flowers. There’s a Moorish palace of incredible detail, one of the most beautiful bell towers in the world, Renaissance buildings decorated in a riot of carving, a cathedral designed specifically to impress the world with its size, scores of dramatic churches, and grand buildings from the 1910s and 1920s that are pure fantasies of architecture.

You can see all those things during the day, but evening is when Seville is at its best. Everything in this city encourages that Spanish family tradition, the evening stroll, or paseo. This time of year, it doesn’t get dark until almost 9 p.m., and stores (which line the pedestrian streets rather than being clumped in some faraway mall) stay open until 8 or 9. The bars and restaurants that dot every corner have tables or counters outside, where you can stop for a drink and small plates of food (tapas) before you wander on. Paseo is an evening institution, meeting up with friends or family before the late dinner hour (typically about 10 p.m.).

Much more than we do elsewhere, Melissa and I wandered all over central Seville until midnight and never felt unsafe. There’s too much life in the streets and plazas, even on an ordinary weeknight, to feel like you’re on your own. Of course, that’s partly because hordes of other tourists love Seville too.

A typical bar where people stand at the counter and have coffee, fresh orange juice, other drinks, and snacks, such as slices of ham (note the ham legs hanging above)

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