I was born in a city called Maracay, about one hundred kilometers from Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. A city that, after the wars, became populated by numerous European immigrants, from which the Spanish stood out. One of the most iconic structures of the city, regardless of whether the practice is politically correct or not, is the bullring. A beautiful edification that is said to be made in the image of “La Maestranza” in Sevilla.
As chance would have it, I was born and raised right in front of that bullring. My upbringing and my childhood were very defined by that Spanish culture. I learned how to ride a bike around that bullring, my mother used to, and still does, play the guitar, play the “castañuelas”, and dance flamenco. I was raised amongst bullfighters and flamenco dancers and as a child I always dreamed of exploring Spain.
I went to live in Paris for a graduate program in 1991 and my first vacation in Europe was in Spain. I visited Sevilla for the first time, and it was very impactful for me to see a city that I had gotten to know through stories, pictures, and movies. Its architecture of course makes it worthy of being a UNESCO cultural heritage site. Its great palaces, its beautiful streets, the Guadalquivir river that divides Sevilla from Triana, walking through Santa Cruz marveling at the doors and facades of the different houses and mansions are just some of the city’s scenic views that take your breath away. Amongst my favorite spots are the Alfonso XIII hotel with its timeless elegance, the Plaza Espana and the pavilions from the 1929 Ibero-American Expo that decorate the city with the spirit of fraternal nations, the great Maestranza, a cultural icon of the city, and last but not least, the Cathedral with the Giralda and the Alcazar, which are probably the most beautiful historical landmarks I have ever seen.
Going to Sevilla is like taking a trip through time. Not only is its architecture beautifully preserved and perfectly representative of its identity, but its customs and traditions are brought alive time after time every year. Visiting the city during the Easter processions and going on the Rocio pilgrimage is still in my bucket list, but the April fair is one of my favorite events of the year which I try to attend every time I can. At the fair the entire city and people from all over the world gather for a week in an atmosphere of music, dance, celebration, and tradition. The fairgrounds are crowded by booths owned by families, corporations, and organizations where members and guests come together. You see people dressed up in traditional fashions and in horse-drawn carriages on the streets, dancing flamenco all in beautiful synchronicity and enjoying their traditional tapas and rebujitos, the favorite drink of fairgoers.
These events, monuments, and symbols all pay tribute to the identity of the region. This identity is so embedded in every aspect of the city that it makes going to Sevilla more than just a trip, it is experiential tourism. Few cities in the world are able to keep their traditions alive and thriving as Sevilla can. I have visited every chance I get and will continue to do so. The city holds such a place in my heart that I do not rule out one day being able to retire in it. The respect for tradition, the candor of the Andalusians, the spring trees full of oranges as they invade the streets with their scent, are just some of the reasons why Sevilla has the most special color.