Seville, the capital of Andalucia, is a compact, pedestrian-friendlymcity offering visitors a rich cultural heritage where ancient architecture and beautiful gardens offer the backdrop to an unforgettable Spanish holiday. When you tell someone in Spain you’re planning a visit to Seville their eyes typically bulge and they immediately ramble on about how insanely hot the city is. As you stroll through Seville’s streets you’ll find ample shade, a sweet breeze, and traditional shops selling decorative fans which are an essential purchase if you’re here during the oppressively hot summer months.
Seville’s historic centre features some of Spain’s most sought after sites: a colossal Gothic cathedral, lush Mudéjar palaces, and winding medieval lanes. Seville’s wildly popular Flamenco Dance Museum allows you to tap into the region’s heart pumping tradition, while old aristocratic mansions offer a step back into a bygone era, now transformed into boutique luxury hotels and posh fine dining restaurants.
Things To Do In Seville
Corral Del Rey
The city’s star attraction is the Seville Cathedral which occupies the site of a great mosque built by the Almohads in the late 12th century. For architecture fans a visit to the cathedral offers a fascinating study into the building’s synergy between its Moorish muslim past and current Christian design (which began in 1401 and took over a century to complete). It’s ranked as the largest cathedral in Europe, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore its Gothic immensity. Not to be missed: La Giralda (the bronze weathervane that crowns the bell tower), the monumental iron gate of Capilla Mayor, and the stunning Tomb of Columbus, his coffin which can be seen carried by bearers representing the kingdoms of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarra.
Horticulture hounds encounter a lush oasis in the heart of Seville at the palatial Real Alcazar. In 1364 Pedro I ordered the construction of a royal residence within the palaces which had been built by the city’s Almohad rulers. He hired an army of craftsmen from Granada and Toledo who created a jewel box of Mudejar patios and halls. Skip through the property today and you’ll find gorgeous gardens, frothing fountains and intimate architectural interiors, which were most recently was used as a location in Game of Thrones.
Taberna del Alabardero
The upstairs dining rooms of Taberna del Alabardero, an elegant town house near the Plaza de Toros, have earned a reputation as one of the finest restaurants in Seville. Regal and resplendent, with everything from the walls and fabrics to the plush carpets awash in vivid red, this is the kind of place where servers donning formal attire deliver white glove service to foodies in the know. Everything is prepared and served by the faculty and students of the hotel and hospitality school, started here many years ago by a priest looking for a way to give street kids some marketable skills.
Plaza de Espana
In 1893 Princess Maria Luisa donated a section of the Palacio de San Telmo to create the awe-inspiring Plaza de Espana. Landscaped by Jean Forestier, director of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, the playful Plaza de Espana is decorated with regional scenes painstakingly painted on ceramic tiles. Tourists visit both day and night, waiting in long lines to hire row boats that you can romantically splash under ornate bridges via a shallow, manmade river.
If you’re looking to indulge in a romantic cava-splashed sip at sunset book a table on the spacious terrace at Abades Triana. The restaurant sits perched over the Guadalquivir River and offers jaw-dropping views of the city’s iconic Torre del Oro.
Plaza del Toros
If you’re curious about Spain’s bullfighting heritage stop by the Plaza del Toros. Seville’s 18th-century bullring, one of Spain’s oldest, features an eye-popping Baroque facade decorated in white and ochre. Purchase a ticket to the museum and you’ll enjoy an informative tour which traces the sport’s history and includes a collection of memorabilia featuring costumes, posters and bull’s heads, as well as paintings of some celebrated Sevillano toreros such as Juan Belmonte and Joselito El Gallo.
Seville’s Museum of Fine Arts
Set in the old Merced Calzada Convent, which dates from the beginning of the 17th century, Seville’s Museum of Fine Arts features a collection that includes works that date from the Gothic period all the way to the 20th century. It features numerous rooms where you can admired celebrated works by artists such as El Greco, Pacheco and Velazquez.
Soho Benita is home to Seville’s thriving artisan community – and a testament to the city’s entrepreneurial flair. The bohemian hood is the perfect place to stroll if you like to spend afternoons on holiday shopping for locally crafted fashions and footwear.
El Baron Rampante Gay Bar
If you’re looking to enjoy a late night spent sipping gay cocktails on a pretty patio Seville has a small but lively LGBT community. Stroll over to Alameda de Hercules and you’ll find a tiny street (Calle Arias Montano) which plays home to a string of gay bars. The most popular is El Baron Rampante, which features an al fresco patio on both sides of the street. Local beer bottles sells for 1 Euro so it’s a great spot to people watch while on the search for your Spanish Prince Charming.
Sabor a Espana
If you’ve got a sweet tooth be sure to stop by Sabor a Espana, located next to Seville Cathedral. This Spanish confectionary features an open kitchen and sampling station where you can watch staff prepare local faves such as candied sunflower seeds and nougat. The gift shop is teaming with sweet treats perfect for tucking into your suitcase to enjoy with family and friends once you get home.
Setas de Seville
The city’s most photographed contemporary architectural landmark is the whimsical Setas de Seville (also known as the Metropol Parasol). These massive checkerboard mushrooms were designed by architect Jürgen Mayer, and is dubbed the largest wooden structure in the world. Take the elevator up to the top and you’ll find a rooftop bar as well as a winding pathways which allow you to perch over the city to enjoy an unforgettable panorama.
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Flamenco Dance Museum
Andalucia’s greatest gift to the art world is the fact that it is the birthplace of flamenco. There’s no better place to educate yourself and experience Spain’s iconic heart-thumping footwork then at Seville’s Flamenco Dance Museum. Arrive an hour before your scheduled performance and enjoy a stroll through its interactive museum. You’ll appreciate how different aspects of the celebrated dance have been influenced by a handful of cultures: the Greeks brought the castanets (percussion instruments which dancers clap in their hands), Arabs provided the singing and guitar heritage, Gipsies from India incorporated the arm, hand and shoulder movements, and after the French invasion dancers began dramatically tapping their feet.
While Seville has endless options for those looking to enjoy a midday snack my favourite spot for tapas was the tiny dining room found at Casa Placido. Soak up the ambiance inside and you’ll find an old school bar and a dining room covered in vintage flamenco and bullfighting posters. Order a nice tall glass of cerveza and slice through an addictive plate of flamenquin, a deep fried delight featuring breaded pork loin wrapped around fine Iberico ham, and stuffed with pickled green pepper and oozing manchego.
Oenophiles looking to zip outside the city for a swirl and sip should drive to the quaint town of Umbrete to enjoy a tasting at celebrated winery Bodegas Salado. Originally founded in 1810, the award wining winery has been passed down through five generations of the Salado family. Highlights from the tasting room include the region’s classic young white Turdetano, a sparkling Umbretum Brut Nature, and a range of fortified wines crafted in the Sherry-style.
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