Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Executive summary by darmansjah

SEVILLE Best for flamenco.

SEVILLE is the soul of Andalucia, and flamenco is its soundtrack. This beguiling city, southern Spain’s largest, is Andalucia at once writ large and in microcosm: grand tapestries in stone-monuments to Spain’s Islamic and imperial Christian past – watch over intimate squares, all dressed in white and shaded by orange trees.  But architecture tells only half the story in this place where so many peculiarly Spanish passions-bullfighting, fiestas and flamenco – find their most vivid expression.

It was in the area surrounding Seville that flamenco was born among gitanos (Roma People) in the late 18th century. And to this day the true of flamenco’s authenticity, the guitar legend Paco de Lucia told a Spanish newspaper in 2009, is that it must ‘sound like Andalucia, its people and its traditions.’

Tablao el arenal, has been a flamenco dancer for 25 years

Passion stands at the heart of the genre. ‘Up on stage, I’m in my own world,’ says Maria Jose Vargas, a bailaora (flamenco dancer) at Tablao El Arenal: admission, show and drink $41; Calle Rodo 7; performances at 8pm n 10pm daily.., who has been dancing flamenco since she was 10. But whenever I catch a glimpse of someone crying in the audience, that’s when I know I’m dancing well.’

The live show at the Tablao-amid a formal, slightly old-world atmosphere, with bow-tied waiters and hand-painted posters from early 20th century Seville – is love and tragedy rendered in musical form. Dancers such as Maria Jose, with her head as still as a sprinter’s, flowers in her hair n polka dots on her dress, share a public camaraderie on stage with black-suited male guitarists and singers. The delicacy of the hands and mesmerizing quickness of the feet, the overwrought facial expressions and rapid shifts in tempo produce a performance in which the distance between ecstasy and agony is barely discernible.

Casa Anselma, in the old barrio of Triana, is a favourite of flamenco aficionados, and even the odd professional, who give impromptu perfromances.

The tablaos (flamenco shows) can be expensive, but come with a guarantee of professional performers. In contrast, crowded flamenco bars with no scheduled performances carry a magical spontaneity. Casa Anselma -: admission free, Pages del Corro 49; open from midnight Monday to Saturday, - across the river in the old flamenco barrio (district) of Triana, is beloved by aficionados who every night launch into impromptu performances.

And, according to Maria Jose, therein lies Seville’s secret as Spain’s top flamenco destination: ‘Seville is special, partly because of flamenco’s strong roots here, but also because there’s so much more variety than anywhere else. N in a special Seville touch ,we dress up for the occasion.’

El Rinconcillo : one of Seville’s oldest tapas bars specializing in cured meats and cheeses; tapas from $2.45.

Hotel Amadeus Music of a different kinds is the inspiration for the family-run Hotel Amadeus, where some of the rooms have been soundproofed for piano or violin practice. The rooms are fine adaptations of an 18th-century sevillano mansion, and the location – in the heart of the Barrio de Santa Cruz but slightly removed from its clamour – couldn’t be better (from $99).

If there is one city in Andalucia that most perfectly combines all the flavours of southern Spain, Seville wins out. Here you will find tapas and flamenco, magnificent architecture and the rich legacies of Moorish times. Make Seville the first stop on your perfect to Andalucia.

Seville airport deals mostly with domestic flights. The easiest way to get to Seville is to fly to Barcelona from Singapore or Malaysia via Singapore Airlines. Then take a connecting flight to Seville on AirEuropa, AirBerlin or TAP Portugal.

Seville’s fine public transport includes buses, metro and trams (one trip tickets start at US$1.40). airport buses to the bus station cost $2.45, a taxi $21.50.  Pick up Andalucia and Spain guides, and Robert wilson’s thriller : The Blind Man of Seville or see Spain info for more information. 

‘The air soft as that of Seville in April, and so fragrant that it was delicious to breathe it. ‘ Christoper Columbus.

Seville grew rich on the trappings of Spain’s empire – Christoper Columbus set sail from here – and the historic Archivo General De Indias is the main archive on Spain’s American empire (admission free; Calle Santo Tomas; mcu.es).

The huge Catedral De Sevilla has priceless paintings and the tomb of Christopher Columbus. The Giralda, once a Mosque minaret, is a fine piece of Islamic architecture (admission $9; Calle manuel Rojas Marcos).
All things flamenco fill the newly opened Museo Del Baile Flamenco, housed in an 18th-century building. As well as displays, there are performances, classes and workshop ($11).

Not far from the Museo del Baile Flamenco in the city centre, Pension Casa Sol Y Luna is in an early 20th-century home, with Spanish-British owners, which is filled with period furnishing (from US$41).

Located in an historic building in the heart of Barrio de Santa Cruz, a five-minute walk from the cathedral and the Alcazar, Hosteria Del Laurel has bright, spacious rooms with marble floors (from US$124).

The four-star Hotel las Casas De La Juderia has gorgeous rooms surrounding a series of patios in Barrio de Santa Cruz. The rooms are decorated with antique furniture and paintings (from US$125).

At Catalina the best fresh ingredients and high-quality traditional cured meats and cheeses are presented in creative and unusual combinations (tapas plates from $10; Paseo de Catalina de Ribera 4).

A seventh-generation family tavern sold to the forebears of the present owners in 1850, and decorated with tiles dating from the 17th century, El rinconcillo is a bastion of old Andalusia (tapas from $2.45, mains from $15).

Andalucian-style fine dining is given a contemporary Basque twist at Restaurante Egana Oriza. Dishes include a terrine of foie gras with hoey, and lobster with herbs (mains from $23-$33; closed Sunday).

Extraverde is a fresh addition in Barrio de Santa Cruz. This bright modern bar and shop specializes in a choice of olive oil, and the ingredients and drinks that best complement it (tapas from US$2.45; Plaza dona Elvira 8).
Close to flamenco spot Tablao el Arenal, tapas bar Meson Cinco Jotas features great wines and Andalucia’s finest food. Tapas include Iberian pork sirloin in Pedro Zimenez wine (tapas US$4; Calle Castelar 1).

A wine bar since the mid-19th century, Casa Morales, in El Arenal, has changed little. Huge tinajas (earthenware jars)  carry the day’s chalked-up tapas choices (half plates US$12; closed Sunday; Garcia de Vinesa 11).

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