After Malaga, the drive led north through the Sierra Nevada mountains to Seville, a two lane road that winds through wonderful valleys and gorges. Although TomTom said that it would take two more hours, it doesn’t: traffic flows nicely across the desert plains on the north side of the highlands, and the views are so much better.
Seville is an absolute delight: a fanciful city of blue tile and orange stucco walls. The old core reminds me of Venice: the streets are narrow walks open only to pedestrians, lined with shops and homes and everyday life. Orange trees line the boulevards, and extensive gardens to sit and watch the people go by. The city is very compact and easy to walk, warm and welcoming morning and evening.
The Cathedral has the largest interior space in Europe, walls coated with gold and ceilings arching yellow far overhead. Four huge figures bear the sarcophagus of Columbus; a massive carved wood organ set in rose marble dominates the center of the nave. The adjacent Giralda has a ramp that curls easily up to the bell tower, allowing for an easy (and free) walk up to wonderful views of the city.
The Real Alcazar is a beautiful Moorish-style palace surrounding extensive sculpted gardens. I hadn’t realized how dramatic sightlines could be within a building: every arch frames a view, lines of geometric tiles lead room to room, arches draw the eye up, mosaics draw the eye down. The courtyards and galleries are regal without losing human scale, and it’s worth hours taking it all in.
It also had one of the more pointlessly amusing translations to help tourists with Spanish.
I could easily have spent twice the time exploring the city, and felt like I especially didn’t really get to sample the food adequately. In any case, I highly recommend it as a getaway destination.