Only in Seville - all you need to discover this amazing city
by Matilda Hickson
The Only In guide books are a joy to anyone who is interested in discovering unique locations, hidden corners and unusual objects that make up the history of a city.
Based on a bend in the Guadalquivir River, Seville has long been coveted as a staging post and has seen numerous visitors. From the Poenicians in the 8th century, the Romans and Visigoths to the Abbadids, Almoravids and the Almohads (who made Seville their European capital), they have all left their mark.
The author offers fifty five interesting and different places or cultural aspects to explore, which include the cathedral and the Royal Palace, and other more well-known Seville landmarks, but with a different perspective to the other guide books. There is also a handy map on the inside front cover, marked with all the places mentioned in the book. The guide book is a slim volume which makes it easy to carry with you, and not a heavy burden which you wish you could leave behind.
The Only In guide books are fascinating to read, whether you are able to visit the cities they cover or not. You can be sure that the author, Duncan J.D. Smith, has done his homework to bring you the wonderfully unique entries for your itinerary. For example, there is the Medieval shipyard, which is described as 'one of Seville's architectural gems (which) lies hidden in plain sight'. Situated near the Alcazar, it has recently been restored and will hopefully be re-opened to the public later in 2022. It orginally lay between the city walls and the Guadalquivir River. It covered a staggering 3.3 acres and consisted of seventeen brick-vault sheds. Each was large enough for the construction of a galley and set perpendicular to the sadly riverbank to facilitate easy launching.
The brick vaults in the Medieval shipyard. Photo: (c) Duncan J.D. Smith
Other favourite entries include the weekly Historic Thursday Market in Seville's northern neighbourhood of La Macarena (where you can find replacement hands for effigies of the Virgin) and the beautiful gardens of The Palacio de las Duenas. The house was built in the late 15th century, and was home to the Pineda family, Lords of Casabermeja, near Malaga. Unfortunately they had to sell their palace to raise ransom money for a family member imprisoned by the Moors. It was bought by Catalina de Ribera (1447-1505), widow of the Governor of Andalucia, Pedro Enriquez de Quinones, and it was her descendants that shaped the palace into the building we see today.
It has been open to the public since 2016 and is a mixture of styles: Renaissance, Gothic and Mudejar (Christian Moorish). At the heart of the palace is a leafy courtyard or Patio Principal leading off the patio is a series of grand rooms containing art, antiques and ceramics accumulated by the Dukes of Alba, together with a selection of their letters and family photos. Despite being hemmed in by other buildings, the author loves the gardens, which are filled with lemon trees and towering palms which transports the visitor from the dusty city outside to a tranquil and beautiful oasis inside.
The garden of The Palacio de las Duenas. Photo: (c) Duncan J.D. Smith
From Europe’s oldest royal palace (the Real Alcazar) and its beautiful cathedral (described as ‘Seville’s architectural superlative) and Moorish minarets, the city also boasts Spain’s oldest tapas bar, the world’s largest wooden structure, and the former royal cigar factory which was inspiraton for the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet.
This guide book is fascinating, well-reseached, a delight to read and thoroughly recommended. Now you can explore Seville’s grand palaces and secret convents, artistic havens, secluded patios and fervent traditions, either from your comfortable armchair or in person. Tick off your discoveries as you go and revel in the wonderful history and culture of this city that is brought to you by the Only In guides.
Only in Seville
Author: Duncan J.D. Smith
Publisher: The Urban Explorer
For more information, visit the Only In Guides website.