10 Things to see and do in Seville
If you have the opportunity to make a trip to Seville, you should not miss certain museums, squares, monuments and neighbourhoods that are full of art and colour, and that have a great value for this beautiful city and for the whole country. At any time of the year Seville has a special colour and these are our recommendations: 10 things to see and do in Seville.
LA REAL ALCÁZAR
The Alcázar of Seville has always been used as accommodation for kings and high personalities. It is made up of various buildings from different periods. The original fortification was built on an ancient Roman and later Visigothic settlement. It later became an early Christian basilica (San Vicente Mártir), where San Isidoro was buried. The Real Alcázar of Seville began to take on its present appearance after the city was taken by the Arabs in 713.
One of the palaces surrounding two courtyards dates from the same period as the Alhambra in Granada. Important craftsmen were sent by the Nasrid King Mohammed V to carry out the work. After the Reconquest of the city in 1248, the Reales Alcázares belonged to successive monarchs. Alfonso X the Wise carried out the first reforms, creating three large Gothic halls. Later, Pedro I decided to build the marvellous Mudejar Palace.
Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Real Alcazar has also been the setting for several productions such as El Reino de los Cielos, Alatriste and Game of Thrones.
CATEDRAL Y GIRALDA
Also known as the Cathedral of Santa María de la Sede, it is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the third largest Christian temple after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London. Since the conquest of the city on 23 November 1248, the building of the aljama, or Great Mosque, became the cathedral of the archdiocese of the Kingdom of Seville.
The Giralda is the bell tower of the cathedral. It was once the tallest tower in the world at 97.5 m high, and is one of the most famous images of the city and of Andalusia as a whole. The tower is made up of two different bodies, although perfectly united, showing a perfect example of the melting pot of cultures in the city.
ARCHIVO DE INDIAS
The General Archive of the Indies in Seville was created in 1785 at the request of King Charles III, with the aim of centralising in a single place the documentation relating to the administration of the Spanish colonies, until then dispersed in different archives: Simancas, Cadiz and Seville. The Casa Lonja de Mercaderes in Seville, built during the reign of Philip II between 1584 and 1598, was chosen as the archive’s headquarters, a task it still performs today.
The archive holds some 43,000 files, with some 80 million pages and 8,000 maps and drawings, mainly from the metropolitan bodies responsible for the administration of the colonies. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, along with the Cathedral and the Reales Alcázares. Inside is the central courtyard, built in stone and of ample proportions, with arches supported on pillars with half-columns. The building’s current main staircase, designed by Lucas Cintora, stands out.
TORRE DEL ORO
It is an albarrana tower located on the left bank of the river Guadalquivir, in the city of Seville, next to the bullring of the Real Maestranza. It is 36 metres high. It closed off the passage to the Arenal by means of a section of wall that joined it to the Torre de la Plata, which formed part of the walls of Seville that defended the Alcázar. It is a tower made up of three sections. The first section, which is dodecagonal, was built between 1220 and 1221 by order of the Almohad governor of Seville, Abù l-Ulà.
It seems to owe its name “Torre del Oro” (Tower of Gold) to the golden reflections produced by the tiles that covered it at the time.
The Plaza de España is a spectacle of light and majesty. Framed in the Maria Luisa Park, this square was designed by the great Sevillian architect Anibal Gonzalez as an emblematic space for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929. The result was a plaza-palace that is unique in the world. Its proportions are lavish; it has a total surface area of 50,000 square metres, making it undoubtedly the most imposing square in Spain.
Along the entire perimeter of the square there is a 515-metre-long canal, which you can travel along in a boat. Without doubt, a romantic experience.
The four beautiful bridges that cross the canal represent the ancient kingdoms of Spain.
Two tall towers stand at the ends of the square, giving a perfect balance to the whole. These towers can be seen from all over Seville.
The porticoed gallery that separates the open space of the square from the building invites you to walk through it. Admire the impressive coffered ceiling…
The Plaza de España has enchanted several film directors. This monument has been the setting for famous films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
EL PARQUE DE MARIA LUISA
The Maria Luisa Park is the most famous park in Seville and one of its green lungs. Formerly the private gardens of the Palace of San Telmo, they were donated to the city in 1893 by the Infanta María Luisa Fernanda de Borbón (Duchess of Montpensier). They were reformed by the French engineer Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, curator of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, who gave them a romantic touch, inspired by the gardens of the Generalife, the Alhambra and the Alcázares in Seville.
In the park were opened the squares of Spain and America, built for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929, which are one of its main attractions. Its fountains give that arabesque touch that adds sound and peace to the relaxation that can be enjoyed among its many tiled and detailed benches, depicting works of literature and other arts, where you can rest peacefully.
The Metropol Parasol is already an emblematic urban space that is beginning to establish itself in the world’s imagination. It is a covered elevated square, it is the largest wooden structure ever built (which you walk on as if you were walking on the roofs), it is a formidable viewpoint, it is a traditional market and a Roman site that can be visited (the Antiquarium), it is a building that houses restaurants and bars, and attracts hostels and specialised shops. And then there is its spectacular design, the work of German architect Jürgen Mayer, which has become popularly known as The Mushrooms.
MUSEO DE BELLAS ARTES
It was established in September 1835 and officially inaugurated in 1841. It is located in the Plaza del Museo, which is presided over by a sculpture dedicated to Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. It is an essential museum for learning about Sevillian Baroque painting, especially by Zurbarán, Murillo and Valdés Leal, as well as 19th-century Andalusian painting. The building that currently houses the Museum was originally built as the convent of La Merced, for the Order of La Merced Calzada de la Asunción, founded by Saint Pedro Nolasco during the reign of Ferdinand III.
The collection of 17th century Sevillian paintings is particularly noteworthy, including works by the most representative Spanish painters such as Murillo, Velázquez, Zurbarán and Valdés Leal.
BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ
Santa Cruz is Seville’s most historic quarter. It occupies part of the old Jewish quarter of the city. It breathes art and history and you will be able to contemplate some of the most beautiful corners of the city. Some of these places are: the Plaza del Triunfo, where you will find the three monuments declared World Heritage Sites in Seville, the Real Alcázar, the Archivo de Indias and the Cathedral; the Plazuela de Santa Marta, the Patio de Banderas, the Calle Agua, the Plaza de Santa Cruz and the Calle de las Cruces, among others. The best thing is to enjoy the neighbourhood by day and by night, and savour some tapas in one of its establishments.
BARRIO DE TRIANA
Without a doubt, the Triana neighbourhood is one of the most legendary in Seville. Strolling through its streets you will get to know the purest essence of Seville. You must visit the castle of San Jorge, the alley of the Inquisition, the Market and the Triana Bridge, which gives access to the neighbourhood from the other side of the Guadalquivir River.
So far our recommendations, but you know, these are just a few. I’m sure there are still places to visit and enjoy. And if you don’t have accommodation, you can visit our website www.tessvacacional.com and look for your ideal accommodation to spend a few days in this beautiful city.