If you’re thinking of going to Seville during July or August, think again.
I found myself with some time off in Spain, as I was waiting for the teaching year to begin in October. Seville was a place I’d dreamt of for years, so I contacted Cat Gaa from Sunshine and Siestas – an expat who calls Seville home – who told me “August in Seville – yikes! It’s hot.”
Further research brought me to the Lonely Planet forum, where one reader hissed that in summer “Seville is like walking on the sun”. The UK’s Independent then shared with me the commonly known phrase that Seville is “the frying pan of Spain”. I then found out that Seville is thought by many to be the hottest city in Europe.
What was I thinking then, when I decided to take my family on a four day trip to Seville in late July? It gets pretty hot in Australia where I’m from and we’re familiar with 40 plus temperatures. She’ll be right I thought. As it turned out, things weren’t so right at all.
I booked accommodation in the Casco Antiguo, the old quarter of town in the centre which, as I discovered, is quite large. Seville is big! The city centre from our place in Calle Relator was about three kilometres, and in temperatures hovering around the mid-40s this walk turned out to be a flaming fiasco.
We also had a four-year-old with us, who was getting red in the face even when we were resting in the shade. So we decided to board the city tourist bus. Tip: take the red bus, not the green and yellow one, as the red buses have roofs and run more frequently. However, not every red bus had a roof and I roasted myself on the rooftop on several occasions.
Stepping off the bus at Seville’s famed Plaza de España, we encountered a fountain that was great to look at, put our faces into and which offered temporary respite. We then decided to hire a boat and splash about in the plaza’s moat, although that was hard work and I ended up overheating at Olin for misbehaving, much to the disapproval of passersby. Following this, we managed to hide in the shadows of the plaza for a short time.
We then thought it a good idea to explore Maria Luisa Park (Seville’s largest park) just across the road, which it was, however after an hour or two traipsing around in mid-40s Celsius, action had to be taken. We sought solace in the nearby aquarium – Acuario de Sevilla – which had air-conditioning.
While we thought Seville’s aquarium was overpriced, it provided temporary immunity from the sizzle and spit of the Sevillian sun. Olin, our four-year-old loved it too. From that point on, we sought out everything cold and watery-looking in the city, in between shady interludes and big guzzles of water. A few of those were:
The vending machine just across from Jardines del Cristina next to an ice-cream shop which sold beer for one euro. Beer! I’d never seen anything like it. Just pop a coin in and grab a beer. Why didn’t we have anything like this in Australia when I was underage drinking?! I deposited my money without hesitation and slurped the cool, crisp contents of the can rapidly and with great pleasure.
Next we went to one of Seville’s best ice-creameries – La Fiorentina – where we were served up some fresh cups of sweet frostiness which was all too fleeting. I enjoyed my cup of apple crumble ice-cream until we were forced back out into the unforgiving furnace of Seville’s streets.
We then staggered towards the Alcázar of Seville which is a royal palace established by Muslim kings. It’s just magnificent and I thought even better than the Alhambra. There were lots of water features, water-based sculptures and cool, shady alcoves. I enjoyed watching water shoot out of old pipes and plummet into olive green pools. Then I came across the hydraulic organ fountain dating to the 17th-century, which is triggered by hydraulic air pressure that’s produced by water.
Long Moorish pools then appeared before my eyes, followed by tunnels of greenery. Of course all this helped a little, but when it was over we trudged the three kilometres back to our place (the buses were infrequent). And although the sights were grand, spending the next three days exploring Seville in this way was just too much.
It scarred my view of this wonderful city, one I had dreamt of visiting for years and it wasn’t much of a holiday. My family did get back to Seville in the cooler months, when I was teaching English in rainy Gijón, Asturias, in Spain’s far north. Of course reports returned that Seville was much better then.
I still haven’t made it back. If I’d listened, perhaps my memories of Seville would be unblemished. Take it from me, and the others I’ve mentioned here who warned me in vain. Don’t visit the frying pan of Spain when it’s smoking. Just don’t. However, if you foolishly did and you find yourself reading this during a Sevillian summer scorcher, cool down in some of the places I’ve mentioned here.
Here’s a couple more city havens (virtually next door to each other) that might just save you:
- Mercado Lonja Del Barranco – a market with a great choice of food, wine and air-conditioning.
- Torre del Oro – a medieval watchtower with an interesting history and air-conditioning.