Churches and Parks in Seville

There's still so much to tell you about Seville! This time we're going to talk about some beautiful churches, the UNESCO World Heritage cathedral, an odd religious experience, and some stunning areas of greenery and open spaces!
We have two 360 videos for you this week, one about the religious buildings and another about the parks.

Let’s start at the UNESCO World Heritage cathedral in the centre of the city, which may well be the main tourist spot in Seville and something you simply can’t miss if you ever visit. This huge cathedral is the centrepiece of the city and is magnificent from every angle.
When they were planning the design, the city elders supposedly said, “Let us build a church so beautiful and so magnificent that those who see it finished will think we are mad.” I think they nailed it!
The cathedral took over a century to build, finishing in 1506. Imagine being involved in the construction at the beginning, knowing that you and your children were unlikely to see it finished. There’s something incredibly noble about these buildings that spanned the generations. I can’t even imagine working on one project for longer than a few months without changing to something new. The modern condition is almost the opposite of these generational construction projects.
Originally a mosque stood in the same spot, but it was knocked down to make room for the world’s third biggest cathedral (although some argue it is the biggest!!)
42 meters high and with over 80 chapels, this truly is a beast of a religious building and was so intricate and beautiful, it touched our hearts. We spent so much time walking around it, sitting by it to eat or drink, and just marvelling at its beauty. You can’t miss it when you’re in Seville, and why would you?!
Besides the cathedral, there are over 100 churches in Seville of all different styles and designs. Mudéjar architecture (a Moorish design) is lovely and there were many fine examples across the city. The main stand-out church for me was the Church of St Louis of France, a Jesuit church, which is no longer in use as a religious building. It’s run by the municipality and is free to enter on a Sunday afternoon. With an amazing facade and beautiful altars, it’s well worth the trip.

I mentioned at the beginning that we had an odd religious experience. This encounter involved buying biscuits from a nun. Although it doesn’t sound that strange, we did not actually see the nun, and had to place the order through a sort of lazy Susan, revolving door, type thing. It was very strange and interesting...The biscuits weren’t half bad either!

On the other side of that hatch is the nun with her biscuits! Very mysterious.
Now let's move on to the parks. Another absolute must in Seville is the stunning Plaza de España, built in 1928. This is a truly sublime area situated within the Maria Luisa park. The Plaza de España complex is a huge semi-circle with buildings running around the edge, accessible over the moat by bridges representing the four ancient kingdoms of Spain. In the centre is the Vicente Traver fountain. By the walls of the Plaza are many tiled alcoves, each representing a different province of Spain.
This is a shining example of why 360 is perfect for seeing a place virtually. The panorama was incredible to behold and this is one of the most breath-taking man-made places we've seen in Spain (and that's saying a lot!)
We'd also really recommend a visit to the world's largest wooden structure, called the Metropol Parasol. This structure is beautiful from street level, looking like giant mushrooms, which is why it's known locally as "Las Setas" (the mushrooms).
It's well worth paying a few euros to go to the top, as you get a magnificent view of the city and you can see the intricate design of the Metropol Parasol in all its wooden glory.
That’s about that for this weeks. We had such a good time in Seville and we’ll be back next week to talk about bullfighting!
Here are a few more photos, and don’t forget to watch the 360 experiences!

One of the many chapels in the cathedral

This is the church where the secret biscuit nuns live!

Alcázar of Seville

Today we're going to take a peek at a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Seville called the Alcázar. This beautiful palace and grounds were originally built in the 8th century, although most of the buildings there today are much newer than that. Don't forget that you can immerse yourself in the Alcázar in our 360 video series, designed for virtual reality users!

This is one of the key tourist sites to visit when in Seville (and is not free, by the way) so expect crowds during the busy summer months. I would also recommend taking a picnic into the Alcázar so you can have some food in the beautiful grounds that surround the palace - you'll probably be in there for a few hours so why not?

What makes the Alcázar so special is the architecture. It is one of, if not the finest example of Mudéjar architecture, which is a style created by the Moors (Muslims) that remained on the peninsula in the late medieval period, despite the Christian reconquest. It is so beautiful that the Christian rulers of Seville wanted this style in their palace, and hired Muslims to help them build the Alcázar. This combination is a fine example of how integrating cultures can have a sublime result both functionally and aesthetically.

The palace has many rooms that have history leaking from the walls but the main part I took away from it was the intricacy of the design. These long projects of construction and design that spanned generations show off the human ingenuity that is possible, even without the benefit of modern technology.

In the gardens there was all sorts of wildlife, including peacocks and a variety of fish. It was also the setting for the filming of Dorne in Game of Thrones, so it was cool getting a personal view of that.

All in all it was a lovely way to spend five-ish hours in Seville and well worth the entrance fee and time spent making the 360 immersive video of the site.

Next week we'll look at another UNESCO site in Seville and explore the plethora of churches and religious buildings that make up a large proportion of the beautiful buildings in the city. Until then.

An introduction to Seville

This week we're starting a new collection of blog posts, in which we'll be exploring the autonomous region (equivalent of a US state) in southern Spain, Andalusia.

Andalusia is spectacular, with a history so deep and interesting, it's difficult to know where to start. But since our Andalusia adventure started in Seville, the capital of the region, it seems as good a place as any to begin this series.

We've recorded some amazing 360 VR footage to accompany each blog in this series so check that out on YouTube to really get a feel for what this region is like. Katie and I had a lot of fun making these cultural 360 trips and we'll be continuing our VR adventure for the foreseeable. We now have over 7000 followers on SamsungVR and we're about to make our first short film…Exciting times indeed!

But enough about us, let's get stuck into Seville! With around 700,000 people (and seemingly just as many churches), it's the fourth biggest city in Spain. There's a lot of history and culture to absorb, and a lot of small places to stop and have a tapa and a caña (little beer). This is one of the many reasons that Seville has so much appeal to us and the millions of tourists that visit each year. There's also the laidback atmosphere, glorious weather, of course, and the special architecture that dates back centuries.

Andalusia was the first region conquered by the Moors and this history is shown in the design of the buildings. We're going to be exploring this a lot more, particularly in next week's post about the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Alcazar!

We did find some interesting and more modern architecture as well, such as this old cigar factory, which is now part of the University. I'm a big fan of industrial architecture… These huge projects really grew the wealth of an area at the beginning of the industrial revolution. I think I like them so much because I'm a chemical engineer and I enjoy large, beautiful factories that have such a unique design and purpose to them.

I also found a couple of strange structures, such as this wonderful bridge.

Close by was an old, abandoned space travel museum. It now looked desolate and there was an eerie feel to the place, sort of like being in a post apocalyptic world…I think seeing a very futuristic building that is now shut down just has that impact on your brain.

We spent a lot of time in Seville, as we wanted to get to know this jewel in the south of the country. Two separate trips, miles of walking, and hours of researching means we'll be bringing together an exciting few posts and 360 experiences over the next few weeks. As always, thanks for reading and we'll shall meet again on the page soon.

This circular plaza had a very busy flea market going on, with some interesting treasures... this old and very ornate matador outfit!

How grand is this is the old tobacco factory?! Imagine going to uni in there!