Alc√°zar of Seville

Today we're going to take a peek at a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Seville called the Alc√°zar. 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 Alc√°zar 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 Alc√°zar 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 Alc√°zar so special is the architecture. It is one of, if not the finest example of Mud√©jar 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 Alc√°zar. 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 ca√Īa (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!

Tenerife: Parque Rural de Anaga (8/8)

The final part of my epic Tenerife tour concludes this week with a visit to the phenomenal Anaga Rural Park!

The beauty of this part of the island would take a thousand words to describe… So I'll use a photo instead.

This national park, very close to the capital, Santa Cruz, has gorgeous jagged mountains that look like broken shards to pottery rising from the ground. Simply stunning. See it for yourself in our 360 video.

As well as mountains, the park is home to laurel forests that are 40 million years old…living fossils, so to speak.

When visiting the park I also drove along the coast, stopping in a few small towns and I was just in absolute awe. Of all the things I saw in Tenerife, this part of the island and Masca were the most beautiful in my opinion, along with the views from Teide.

This trip reopened my eyes to travelling again… I mean, they hadn't been shut for long but the peace of mind that comes from taking in this natural beauty cannot be understated. The older I get, the more time I need in nature, without speaking, without a podcast in my ear, simply alone with nature.

Lucky for me, I would be heading back to mainland Spain and going on an epic trip around Andalusia, the southern region of Spain, known for its beauty and cultural interest. I would get time alone in nature, as well as exploring the cultural hotspots of Seville and Cadiz with Katie.

I just feel very grateful to be living this life of adventure - thank you all for reading.

See you next week!