Originally published in OUT June/July 2009, issue 185
Seville might lack the cosmopolitan glamour of Barcelona and Madrid, but it exudes an old-world romance all its own. Often called the Paris of Andalusia, the narrow cobblestone streets of Santa Cruz and the riverside caf?s and flamenco bars of Triana make it one of the country's most beautiful cities.
Seville's 2000-year history can be read in its striking architecture -- from the grand gothic Catedral de Santa Mar?a de la Sede to the Mud?jar design of the Reales Alcazares palace, the city's Moorish and Christian past is literally carved in stone. But the beauty of Seville isn't confined to the relics of bygone eras -- see the Santiago Calatrava-designed bridge, a growing list of ultramodern hotels (like the Gran Meli? Col?n), and the Museo de Bellas Artes, Spain's second largest art museum after the Prado.
The city's thriving gay nightlife centers around La Alameda de H?rcules, a large square lined with bars and caf?s, where most nights you can find young Spaniards sipping tinto de verano (a mix of red wine and Sprite-like soda) at Caf? Central or El Bar?n Rampante. Seville even offers two bear bars. And don't be fooled by the sleepy streets at 2 A.M. Behind closed doors, discos like Itaca and Isbiliyya keep the party hopping all night with Spanish-flavored techno and international club tracks.
The Bite El Burladero Tapas y Tintos
Calle de Canalejas 1; +34-954-50-55-99
Located in the Gran Meli? Col?n, it fuses classic Spanish tapas with Michelin-rated chef Dani Garcia's avant-garde liquid nitrogen cooking. Try the cherry gazpacho with cheese snow.
Calle San Fernando 41; +34-954-22-72-54
Situated in the conservatory of a restored mansion next to the Alc?zar gardens, it retains an old-world ambience that captures the city's spirit and is a favorite of Sevillanos for its wide variety of dishes, from foie gras to wild boar and a number of pescatarian delights.
The Groove Itaca
Calle Amor de Dios 31; +34-954-90-77-33
While this gay club's decor leaves something to be desired, its thrice-weekly parties pack in the hot Andalusian locals. Stick around for the 2 A.M. curtain call with the city's finest drag acts, like Angelita. Just don't mention the Macarena.
Calle Alameda de H?rcules 93; +34-954-37-59-92
This hole-in-the-wall dance bar in the heart of the city's thriving gay strip, La Alameda de H?rcules, is tinted with classic Spanish decor -- Damascus wallpaper and sultry red lights -- perfect for dancing to hard techno beats.