A new season has just begun: autumn is here! A season in which cities like Madrid and Seville take on a special relevance. With temperatures still warm and skies that intensify light and beauty, this is the perfect time to visit. The same sky, yet different, unparalleled.
Travelling becomes especially rich and rewarding in cities with an intense cultural background. Cities like Madrid and Seville, joined together in just over two hours with the AVE, or high-speed rail link. Simply strolling through the streets in either of the two affords us a pleasure nobody should do without.
A different take on the great artists residing in their museums; a visit to the bars and cafés where our best authors used to meet; enjoying the traditions and the best events on the cultural agenda of each of these cities. All together making up that “other” trip to the very heart of a city, leaving behind the usual official tourist trail. So that once under the skin, you can delve deeper and really understand what makes these cities great.
Some skies are misty, greyish blue and full of clouds, such as those painted by Diego Velázquez. Many of these can be seen in the Prado Museum, which houses a vast collection of the works of this Sevillian painter from the time of his arrival at the court of Philip IV until his death, and whose masterpiece, “Las Meninas”, still instils admiration in the art world.
And there are those other skies, this time clear, clean, of an intense azure blue and with the chiaroscuro of Bartolomé Murillo’s Immaculate Conceptions, which we can contemplate in the city of Seville. The city which in a few months’ time will be celebrating the 4th centenary of the birth of this talented artist with an extensive programme of exhibitions and activities. Perhaps his greatest work is the “Colossal” Immaculate Conception presiding the altar of the former Mercedarian church, today one of the halls of Seville’s Fine Arts Museum (Museo de Bellas Artes).
One same sky shared by two cities. A celestial dome spanning one of the most impressive chapters in the art and culture of Spain, preserving it for us to enjoy.
An experience which comes to life in Francisco de Goya’s frescoes at San Antonio de la Florida. In the literary rooms of the Café Gijón in Paseo de Recoletos. And along this green boulevard which takes us to Madrid’s Art Route, where we will find the Thyssen Museum, CaixaForum or the Reina Sofía Art Centre, amongst others. History, modernity and the avant-garde go hand in hand.
Seville provides its own experience, which starts by recovering The skies we lost, by Joaquín Romero Murube. A much-admired writer and poet, former conservationist of the Royal Palace (Reales Alcázares) of Seville. It was through him that poets such as Federico García Lorca came to know of this monument, today a listed World Heritage site, one of the most visited in Europe. A poet and writer who drove Seville’s literary spirit, who at his peak met in Seville’s Atheneum with the youngsters who would years later make up the bulk of the literary movement Generation of 27. A meeting which came about thanks to Seville’s literary atmosphere, and which was hosted by the bullfighter Ignacio Sánchez Mejías.
Sánchez Mejías was a key figure in bullfighting, but he was above all an intellectual, the person who brought together famous bullfighters Joselito El Gallo and Juan Belmonte, a unique threesome in bullfighting circles whose footprints can be traced back to the Maestranza Bull Ring. This old bullring, built on Baratillo hill, holds memories of history, together with pictures of today, all of which can be seen in its museum.
Walking through the same streets as the Nobel laureate Vicente Aleixandre, close to where the Roman columns built on the corner of Mármoles street stand silent witness to Rome’s period of glory in Seville. View the unique Ruins of Italica (in the nearby town of Santiponce). The birthplace of emperors, now marking the 1900th anniversary of the death of Trajan and the rise to power of Hadrian, the emperor who transformed it into a universal city and one of the most dynamic in Hispania. A town now applying for Unesco World Heritage status, slightly more than a century after being declared a National Monument.
A unique, inimitable city, the legacy of Trajan and Hadrian closing the circle on this other walk through Seville “with the airs of Andalusian Rome”, as Lorca, that great poet from Granada, would write in one of his greatest works –and, indeed, of the whole Generation of 27–, his lament for the death of his much-admired Ignacio Sánchez Mejías.
And so ends our literary, poetic and pictorial proposal, taking in Madrid and Seville, which offers our guests a unique experience this autumn. A richer experience, if you let yourself be carried away to learn more about the people we have mentioned, and track their footprints in the city. A few pointers to aid the traveller in the enthralling adventure of travelling.