Essentials Getting there
British Airways (0344 493 0787; ba.com), easyJet (0330 365 5000; easyjet.com) and Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair. com) all fly to Seville from London Gatwick. Ryanair offers an additional service from Stansted. Remondo 19; 0034 954 224 990; hdmaria.com). Kirker Holidays (020 7593 1899; kirkerholidays.com) is offering three-night stays at the same hotel from £498 per person. The price includes flights, transfers and daily breakfast. sun. All along the retail avenue of Calle Sierpes, white drapes are strung between the buildings at roof level – canvas guardians protecting the shoppers below. Calles Rioja, Rosario, O’Donnell and Tetuán are similarly enhanced and, together, they create a labyrinth of covered walkways that seems to mimic the souks of Marrakesh. The echo is appropriate as Sierpes funnels me south into the arms of North Africa – the Alcázar smiling as Seville’s key example of a building designed to withstand the weather.
In part, the smile conceals a lie. While the palace was certainly founded in the Moorish era – and plays up to these origins in its sighing arches and alcoves – much of its fabric dates to the 14th century, when the Spanish crown had seized control. It was Pedro I who commissioned the iconic Patio de las Doncellas, with its long reflecting pool, pale marble walls and shaded perimeter – acknowledging not just the beauty of the former regime’s style of construction, but also its pragmatic benefits. Even in November, it feels noticeably colder inside the courtyard.
Beyond the walls of the Alcázar, drifting away to the west, Seville meets the flow of the Guadalquivir (technically the Canal de Alfonso III, a side-branch of a river that dissects the city in two channels), and changes pace. On the far side of the soupy green currents, Triana keeps its own counsel – not so much a neighbourhood as an outlying enclave, imbued with its own attitude and identity. It has traditionally been a place of sailors and dockers – 300m and yet a world away from the sophisticates and perfumed courtiers of Centro. But if some of its coarseness has been leavened by money and modernity, its togetherness is still visible on the hard line of Calle Pelay Correa as it runs parallel to the water. Midway along, two adjoining tapas bars, Bar Bistec and Bodega Siglo XVIII, duel for customers, their wares imprinted on chalkboards – sardines and prawns, anchovies, squid, saltcod. The rivalry, though, is friendly, the crowd outside spilling through both doorways. A Sunday fiesta is in motion, pinned to the Iglesia de Santa Ana, opposite – a celebration on the street, in spite of the date on the calendar. And there is that colour once more, the walls of the church an undiluted orange.
A block north, Calle Pureza carries me west, past cycle workshops and square-cut houses – until, on Plaza del Altozano, Triana embraces its gentrification. Opened in 1823, the Mercado de Triana must once have been a workhorse, a slurry of fish guts and manual labour. Now it deals in weeknight cookery classes at the Taller Andaluz de Cocina, and in those ubiquitous oranges – even if, these days, they are present at Bocasú, a patisserie where foodsmith Manuel Jara crafts chou-pastry nuggets, glazed and filled with custard, in a rainbow of flavours – apple and raspberry, as well as clementine.
Elsewhere in the market, an outlet is selling Christmas gifts. These are cute trinkets and wood toys, but the display is dusted with fake snow – and, momentarily, the incongruity makes me laugh. In Seville, the concept of a frosty winter is so implausible that it has to be fabricated. November temperature: The Majorcan capital is a fabulously Spanish city whose huge cathedral La Seu may just be the country’s most impressive. Es Baluard (esbaluard.org) is a modern art gallery, tucked into a 16th-century fortification. palmavirtual.es The four-star Art Hotel Palma, injected into a restored 19th-century palace on La Rambla, serves up double rooms from £123 (telegraph. co.uk/tt-artpalma).