Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.
We had such little time in Sevilla and Granada (only three nights total!) that I feel almost embarrassed in writing this entry. There’s so much more to see and explore in the Andalusia region of Spain that we certainly barely even touched even half of what these cities have to offer. That I think, would have to wait until a future trip – perhaps a month-long driving excursion across southern Spain?
I loved our stay in these cities, more so than our stay in Madrid. Part of this was increased confidence in our ability to make ourselves understood in our limited Spanish! We’d gotten comfortable with the idea of ordering tapas for meals, and had a great meal at Duo Tapas in Seville, a modern tapas restaurant recommended by our Airbnb host. We also had a more traditional tapas meal in the centre of town (photos in the below gallery) which I can’t give a glowing review of – I think I prefer modern interpretations of tapas more so than the traditional!
In Granada, we lucked out by finding some genuine nun cookies, and finished with a simple dinner at a local restaurant – salad and baked potato. Interestingly, many of the restaurants in Granada seem to be Middle Eastern or North African in nature – a reflection perhaps on the city’s long history of Muslim (I hesitate to use the word Moorish, which I’m uncomfortable with!) influence.
This influence can be seen throughout both cities, not just in the restaurants available but also in the architecture and design. The Alhambra in Granada is of course the famous example of royal palaces in the Arabic style in Spain, but as I was unable to buy tickets to enter (note to others – if you want to go, buy your tickets online weeks in advance, not three days before!), we settled for going to the Alcazar in Seville which is still impressive but not on the same scale.
The tiling on the streets and buildings, the design of buildings around a central courtyard – all these are remnants of the Muslim influence and rule of this area dating back almost a millennium. Visiting Sevilla and Granada is almost what I would imagine visiting Morocco to be like – but I’ll let you know for sure after February when we’ve been to Morocco!
One particular highlight for me was visiting the Cathedral and Royal Tombs in Granada. I’d read a lot about Isabella of Castile and Fernando of Aragon in the past, initially prompted by my interest in the English Tudors and Katharine of Aragon, their daughter. To see the actual effigies, tombs, and lead coffins of these two great, though religiously fanatical and absolutely xenophobic and prejudiced, rulers was quite a thrill.
So in summary, Sevilla and Granada have a bit to offer everyone. For the history nuts like me – fantastic insights into the past of both Arabic and Catholic rulers. For those who like to eat – some innovative modern tapas restaurants. For those who love to party – a late night bar and restaurant drinking culture, with some bars featuring signature flamenco shows that don’t start until midnight! I can’t wait to return to Andalusia in the future for a longer stay.