Believe it or not, Andalusia is among the 30 happiest places in the world! Although Málaga stands out as the happiest city in southern Spain, Seville, as the proud, ancient capital of Andalusia, is aiming for the stratosphere, showered with all the glittering honours it is due.
The inimitably joyful and vibrant character of this jewel-like city permeates every beautiful street and plaza, as does the delicate, sweet scent of orange blossom, elegantly drifting through the city. The Andalusian capital is celebrated the world over not only for its spectacular cathedral, where Christopher Columbus lies, and its picturesque Moorish Alcazar, but also for its perennially convivial atmosphere. How much this deliciously accommodating ambiance is helped by the fabulous Andalusian custom of ‘siestas’ is still up for debate!
Image from Humphrey Muleba
Seville’s most beloved monument is still very much alive and kicking. The mythical Guadalquivir River regally winds its majestic way through the city, casting glimmers of golden light in its wake along its lusciously verdant banks as it passes a seemingly infinite array of monuments, providing deliciously cool respite during the sweltering summer months. For many years this sparkling city was the gateway to the New World and the countless exotic riches that filled it, and the Guadalquivir became the vital path of trade, playing a crucial role in many of the city’s most significant historic moments and in many ways giving birth to Seville’s long-held status as the wealthiest and most powerful city in Europe during the 16th & 17th centuries.
In order to best qualify what makes a city the ‘happiest’ place in the world, sociological experts subjected a percentage of the population to a survey, in which their personal satisfaction is logged, taking into account important, highly specific factors such as the climate, work opportunities, cultural life, historical value, gastronomy, and technological advancement.
Image from Darwin Vegher
The results of this survey were resounding. Without a doubt, sevillanos are positively delighted with the quality of life that their golden city generously affords them, gracefully balancing the historical opulence of ancient Hispalis, the pride of of all sevillanos, with Seville’s intoxicating, tangibly progressive future at the fore-front of design and technology. This manifests itself perfectly on Seville’s Plaza de la Encarnación, where one encounters ancient, beautifully-preserved Roman remains directly underneath the canopies of the ultra-modern Metropol Parasol – locally known as Las Setas, or mushrooms, due to the distinctive shape of its vast wooden canopies and supporting pillars, which also boast unrivalled panoramic views of the city.
Aside from their love for Seville, the famous character of Andalusians is always underscored by a distinct positivity and joviality, and distinct talent for raising everything up for celebration, from the humble tapa to the sacred religious figures and floats that dominate the streets during the incense-laced proceedings of Semana Santa.
The sheer calibre of the innumerable restaurants, bars, bodegas, and tavernas that adorn every nook and cranny of the city is a splendid, sumptuous reflection of the deeply Sevillian love for gastronomy and local products of the highest quality, which Andalusia is blessed with in abundance. These, in tandem with the inherently gregarious and congenial nature of the city and its inhabitants, make Seville a wonderfully sociable city, where visitors are swiftly and warmly enveloped into its lustrous bosom.
Image from Fabio Ballasina
To experience this ravishing, distinctly Sevillano form of happiness, we absolutely recommend that you visit the central barrios of Santa Cruz, Alameda and Triana – the cultural and historic epicentre of Seville. Here, it is almost a rite of passage that you get happily lost amidst its exquisitely winding streets and dreamy plazas with their delicately tinkling fountains, accompanied by the passionate sound of flamenco, always in the near distance. These areas provide an idyllic back-drop as you make your leisurely way around an incredible array of sights, elegantly punctuated by stops here-and-there to sample local gastronomic luxuries, such as sumptuous jamón iberico de bellota, sherry straight out of Jerez, and – needless to say – an astounding assortment of mouth-watering tapas!
One of our absolute favourite gems within this treasure-trove of a city is the charming, unchanged bodega El Quita Pesares. Located in the beautiful neighbourhood of Santa Catalina, this beloved institution is famed not just for its extraordinarily delicious tapas, but for its eclectic, charismatic owner – a celebrated Sevillian poet and singer – who humorously serenades his guests as he serves them, deftly weaving many a witty, side-splitting remark into the mix, perfectly capturing the moment. It is very possible that you will feature in one of his rhymes, which is a pleasure and an honour that you simply cannot miss!