Exploring Seville, Spain

A tour of historic Seville

Seville is the capital of Andalusia region in southern Spain. A historic city popular with tourists, it’s old town contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Sevilla Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies.

My wife Glenda is Hawaiian-Filipino and her Filipino ancestry trace back to Seville with a migration around early 1890s during Spanish colonial era. With her recent DNA test showing her still 1/4th Iberian and her middle name (Sevilla) still bearing the heritage, a trip to Seville was an obvious choice. And when we landed she was beaming at the airports large signboard!

We arrived in Seville from Atlanta via Lisbon, Portugal. The airport is well organized and have a delicious restaurant right next to the security checkpoint!

We decided to stay at the historic old town and took a 30 min taxi ride from the airport. Some areas in historic district are only accessible on foot which was a treat exploring the historic wonders!

Musician playing Spanish guitar by the cathedral

After freshening up at the historic Murillo apartments, we started our walk toward Plaza de Colone for our bus tour around the city.

The nicely laid out historic district is an enjoyable experience including Street side Flamenco dance.

The Hop on hop off bus tour took us all around the city with an audio guide explaining notable sites.

Getting a sit at the upper level in good weather is best to enjoy sightseeing in the bus tour
The famous bull fighting arena of Seville
The blending of Muslim and Spanish design is prominent in Andulasia

The Seville harbour, located about 50 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, is the only river port in Spain. The river splits the city in two distinct regions.

The River Guadalquivir made Seville an important City during the Spanish Golden age back in 16th century
The famous Macarena church housing the priceless gold statue of Virgin Mary brought out during the annual procession
An example of modern Seville from the 1992 Expo that gave rise to the Technology district

After the bus tour and quick lunch, we headed to the Royal Alcazar for a guided tour. The palace grounds has been in existence since 10th century during Muslim Spanish rule and there are even remnants of walls from the Roman period. It was rebuilt in it’s current Andalusian Mudejar style by King Pedro I in late 14th century. More recently the palace interior and garden were filmed for the HBO hit series ‘Game of Thrones’.

Real Alcazar, palace of the Spanish monarchy for 5 centuries
Patio de las Doncellas courtyard
One of the access-gates (b. 14th century) to Salón de los Embajadores in Palace of Peter of Castile
The famous Royal gardens featured in the fictional kingdom of Dorne in HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’
The Royal bath and reflective pool
The interior facade by the pond of the Royal gardens where they still have live fish!
A photo op for the ladies next to back facade of the garden of Real Alcazar

One of the big attraction of Seville is it’s amazingly diverse and colorful cuisine. Tapas was invented in this city during the Spanish Golden age. Below are a few delicious samples!

Simone checking out the tasty treats at a Spanish bakery
Anadlusian Breakfast at a cafe
Tapas!!
Eggplant and red bell pepper dish
Dinner in the historic district next to our Murillo apartments

Exploring Seville was a memorable experience for us. The charm of it’s old town cobblestone streets, historic architecture and delicious food makes it a must see in any Spanish trip.

Courtyard of the historic Murillo apartments
Historic old town Seville at night
Stage and lobby at a historic 17th century Flamenco apparel factory, now a hotel
Shops line up the streets connecting old town to Plaza de Colone

We also took day trip to nearby Andulusian white villages of Zahara and Grazalema and historic Ronda.

White village of Zahara Della Sierra
White village of Grazalema
Historic Ronda

Finally, check out the below video clip for a live experience of our tour in Seville. Enjoy!

Exploring Seville – A Video Blog

Marseilles – Basilique Notredame de la Garde

video blog of the most iconic church of Marseille

Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde is a Catholic basilica in Marseille, France built in 19th century. The site of a popular Assumption Day pilgrimage, it is the most visited site in Marseille. It was built on the foundations of an ancient fort at the highest natural altitude of 149 meters (489 ft). Buildings in Marseille are not allowed to exceed this height. It is built from limestone outcropping on the south side of the Old Port of Marseille and offers the only panoramic view of the entire city including the old port, cruise port, isles of Monte Christo, the famous fish market and old town Marseille.

Doge’s Palace in Venice

A tour of Venetian history

The Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) is one of the main landmarks of the city of Venice. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice, opening as a museum in 1923.

The palace bell tower has a musical chime that echoes within these boundaries.

The history of a residence for the Doge in the current location goes back as far as 810 A.D. Doge Agnello Participazio moved the seat of government from the island of Malamocco to the area of the present-day Rialto, when it was decided a “ducal palace” should be built. No trace remains of that 9th-century building as the palace was partially destroyed in the 10th century by a fire. Around 1172 A.D., Doge Sebastiano Ziani inititated reconstruction work that would drastically change the entire layout of the St. Mark’s Square. The new palace was built out of fortresses, one façade to the Piazzetta, the other overlooking the St. Mark’s Basin. Between 1340 and 1430 A.D. further reconstruction was done to transform it into a Gothic style palace.

The bridge of sigh at the palace prison where Casanova was once imprisoned.

Refurbishment works were being held at the palace when on 1577 a third fire destroyed the Scrutinio Room and the Great Council Chamber, together with works by Gentile da Fabriano, Pisanello, Alvise Vivarini, Vittore Carpaccio, Giovanni Bellini, Pordenone, and Titian. In the subsequent rebuilding work it was decided to respect the original Gothic style. Since the 16th century, the palace has been linked to the prison by the Bridge of Sighs.

Violent fire in 1483 and then again in 1547 forced further repair and reconstruction work.

As well as being the ducal residence, the palace housed political institutions of the Republic of Venice until the Napoleonic occupation of the city in 1797. In 1866 Venice became part of Italy. By the end of the 19th century, the structure was showing clear signs of decay, and the Italian government set aside significant funds for its restoration and all public offices were moved elsewhere except the State Office for the protection of historical Monuments, which is still housed at the palace’s loggia floor. In 1923, the Italian State entrusted the management to the Venetian municipality to be run as a museum.

Watch the clip in below link of our tour of the palace to learn more!

Venice at night

The beauty of Venice really shines at night. We took the following pictures one evening taking the Vaporatto (water taxi) ride near the train station, then going out into open ocean passing the cruise port, and getting off at the mouth of the grand canal near Plaza San Marco.

We finished the evening with a walk over Academia bridge to admire the view of the grand canal and having dinner at Plaza San Vidal.