They say that Sevilla simmers but at night it becomes an intoxicating cauldron filled with dama de noche, a fragrant flower vine that grows everywhere on trees in Andalucia and emits its perfume only at night; and, of course, with the scent of oranges. The trees grow in the streets, and while their fruit is sour and unpalatable, the Seville orange's scent is so intense, it was coveted in ancient times for its use in body-oils.
Sevilla has been inhabitated since the 9th century; Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and Christians have all at one time called this city home. It was named Hispalis by Julius Cesar; toward the end of the Roman Empire, it was one of the most important cities of Empire and center of Christian activity in the Iberian Peninsula before its conquest by the Moors in 711. The Plaza de Espana in the photo to the right, built in 1929, honors both Spain and the city's incredible historical past with mosaics surrounding an impressive palisade.
Like most Spanish cities, Sevilla had a rich centuries-long tradition of Jewish livelihood and wealth, which was tragically lost under the reign of the Catholic monarchs. The quarter has greatly changed and now houses some of the most expensive real estate in the city. Still, as you walk through its narrow streets, past brightly painted houses with Moorish-arched windows hidden by celosias (shutters) you can feel the ghostly remnant of a time when different faiths and races thrived in harmony in Spain, creating one of the most splendid and evanescent civilizations the world has ever seen.
The Cathedral of Sevilla is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, spanning several blocks and festooned with gargoyles, turrets and buttresses. Built upon the remains of a central mosque, the Cathedral carries its Islamic foundations within the orangerie outside its gates and decorative brickwork. Since 1568, the Cathedral's tower has been crowned by an airy belfry with a bronze weather vane known as El Giraldillo, which has lent its name to the tower La Giralda, known as one of the most famous belltowers in Christendom.
I'll post next about the incredible Royal Alcazares of Sevilla. For now, I leave you here with a photo of a palace in the casco viejo, or historic