by Michael J. Shapiro | March 01, 2014
A mere two-and-a-half-hour ride from Madrid on the AVE, Spain's high-speed train, gets one to Seville, capital of Andalusia.

The historic section of this beautiful city is an alluring labyrinth of narrow streets winding through 1,300 years of architecture, spotlighting Moorish, Gothic and Renaissance influences. But the city is not without modern, whimsical touches. Case in point: Metropol Parasol, aka Las Setas ("the mushrooms") de Sevilla, an enormous, 85-foot-high series of wood mushrooms that stretches for nearly 500 feet, with various walkways along the top affording spectacular views of the city; event spaces can host up to 400 people, and there is room for 3,000 in the plaza below.


  • spain 1
    Spain’s AVE high-speed trains make the southern region of Andalusia easily traversable. Seville is just a two-and-a-half-hour ride from Madrid.
  • spain2
    The historic center of Seville is a pleasure to explore on foot, a labyrinth of narrow streets and historic architecture.
  • spain3
    You can see the evolution of the city in the Alcázar of Seville, a royal palace and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here the region’s Arabic, Renaissance and Baroque influences converge.
  • spain4
    The Arabic influence pervades inside the Alcázar, although Jewish and Catholic symbols are present throughout the intricate designs of the interior’s tile and woodwork.
  • spain5
    Modern touches of whimsy can be found in Seville, too, as is the case with Las Setas (the mushrooms) de Sevilla, enormous wooden structures with a view (and with event space).
  • spain6
    Córdoba, only 45 minutes by AVE train from Seville, also has a picturesque historic section with beautiful courtyards and strong Moorish influences.
  • spain7
    The rolling hills southeast of Córdoba are home to olive groves and large haciendas — such as Yeguada de Torrehermosa, a facility that breeds Spanish thoroughbred horses and occasionally hosts events.
  • spain8
    Trainer Alfonso Crespin shows the beautiful horses of Yeguada de Torrehermosa to small groups and prospective buyers.
  • spain9
    The port and beach resort city of Málaga is about an hour from Córdoba by AVE train. The birthplace of Picasso, Málaga is home both to traditional bull rings and high-rise resorts.
  • spain10
    Málaga is a popular cruise destination with a marina and a row of restaurants from which Spanish sunsets may be viewed.