Last year I made a spur of the moment decision to visit Southern Spain, Andalusia to be precise. Direct flights were unavailable at the time (it’s easier to get there now, thanks to Ryanair) so we had to fly to Madrid and then catch a train to beautiful Seville, one of the best cities I’ve have the privilege of visiting. Andalusia is a gorgeous region with lots of delicious food, breath taking architecture, and lots of charm and personality. It’s the home of tapas, the ever passionate Flamenco, and the magnificent Alhambra. A warm, yellow and gold region filled with energy and character.
In the article below I’m just going to outline what I think are the best things to do and see whilst visiting this amazing city. I only spent three days in Seville, which is a fair time, in my opinion, to get to see most of the main attractions as well as enjoy the laid back setting that is so synonymous with Andalusia.
Accomodation: Casa de Luz Sevilla – was slightly apprehensive about this apartment as it did not have any sort of rating on booking.com at the time. The photos of the place looked great, and the location was just fantastic, only a couple of minutes away from the Seville Cathedral and Alcazar. The price for three nights was on the cheaper side (cost around €340.00 for three nights), so we went for it. And we were not disappointed! The place looks like it’s been newly refurbished, has air conditioning, a lovely internal courtyard (perfect for enjoying breakfast), a huge bathroom with a walk in shower and double sinks and a very comfy double bed! It also has very good wifi and a microwave and cooking hobb, fridge/freezer and a dishwasher, as well as a washing machine! Real value for money! Location was as described, right within the old town centre and only 400m away from the main square! Our host, Alberto, was helpful and accommodating, very punctual and friendly. It was a very welcoming and positive experience!
As I already mentioned, I chose to stay 3 nights in Seville. Our first evening there comprised of just walking through the old town and taking in the golden evening hues. It gets dark late here in May, so we had plenty of time to walk along the orange coloured streets and enjoy the warmth of the Aldalusian sun. There are ample tapas bars where you can enjoy some tasty treats, along with a cool jar of Sangria!
There’s tons to do in this amazing, yellow city! But here’s a list of the must visit places too see whilst in Seville:
- Real Alcazar – aka. Alcazar Palace: If you have just one day in Seville, this is the place you just HAVE to see… A feast of gorgeous architectural design known as mudejar – a Muslim and Christian artistic fusion unique to Andalusia – and lush gardens make this place look like heaven on earth… You can choose to explore the complex on your own or use an audio tour to guide you through the luxurious rooms of the palace like the Salón de Embajadores (Hall of Ambassadors) and the Patio de las Doncellas (Patio of the Maidens). To gain access to the Cuarto Real Alto (the Upper Royal Quarters), you’ll need to buy a guided tour ticket. For the Game of Thrones fans, this place is a MUST VISIT! It’s where most of the “Dorne” scenes were filmed. You can easily recognise which areas were used in which scenes, so it was a fun experience for me, a bonafide GOT geek! You could easily spend hours in the place, exploring every nook and cranny of the palace and its surrounding gardens (which are huge), would easily take half a day. Expect long queues to get into the palace, especially during the spring/summer months, so getting there early would be a ideal. The Alcazar opens every day at 9:30AM, getting there before 9:00AM is best so you can queue up and get in before the crowds.
Catedral de Sevilla and La Giralda – The Cathedral of St. Mary of the See is impressive to say the least. It is the third-largest church in the world as well as the largest Gothic church with the total area occupied by the building being 23,500 square meters. Along with the above mentioned Alcazar, and the General Archives of the Indies the cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inside the cathedral you’ll find a massive monument, housing Christopher Columbus. His tomb is held aloft by four allegorical figures representing the four kingdoms of Spain during Columbus’ life, Castille, Aragon, Navara, and Leon. It was designed by the sculptor Arturo Melida, and was originally installed in Havana before being moved to Seville after Spain lost control of Cuba. The Dominican Republic actually claims that Columbus’ remains never made that final trip back to Spain because in 1877, workers in the Santo Domingo cathedral discovered a container of remains labelled “The illustrious and excellent man, Don Columbus, Admiral of the Ocean Sea”. Ever since, the Dominicans have claimed that Spain transported the wrong remains out of Santo Domingo in 1795 – a fact which, if true, means that someone else entirely lies in the imposing tomb in Seville’s cathedral! Whichever the case, it is definitely a magnificent structure to behold, so make sure to have a good look at it while you’re there. As I already mentioned, the cathedral itself is a massive structure, full or ornate art work and gothic sculptures. Make sure to look up whilst you’re visiting. Swallows have found the high ceilings and arches of the huge cathedral to be very convenient nesting spots, so the building itself is full of the beautiful little birds (they’re my favourite) flying around up high. The Giralda, a former minaret, is the bell tower of the cathedral. You can climb all the way to the top of the tower to take in some bird’s-eye views of the city by going up a series of ramps within the tower. That’s right, NO STAIRS! Apparently, when it was being built, the sultan ordered for 35 ramps to be erected, instead of steps, so that the muezzin could ride a !!HORSE!! to the top to recite the Adhan (call to prayer)… So there you have it, no excuses, now you have to get up there!!
- Plaza de Espana – Located near the Santa Cruz neighborhood in the Parque de María Luisa, the building were constructed for the world’s fair to showcase Spain’s role in history, industry and technology. The buildings are a rare and beautiful example of the Regionalist Revival style of architecture, which is characterized by a use of local materials. Today, the structures serve as government offices. It’s a bit of a walk to the plaza from the historic centre, especially on a hot afternoon. So make sure to have a bottle of water with you. Once you’re there you can stroll through the area, enjoy the surrounding parks and even row a little boat alone the man-made waterways of the plaza!
- Torre del Oro – Seville’s owes its successful maritime trade to its navigable river, the Guadalquivir, which offered ships more protection than a traditional European port. For centuries, a heavy chain was strung across the river from the tower to protect the city from seafaring invaders. Today you can visit the watchtower, which has now been converted into a maritime museum that outlines the river’s importance throughout Seville’s history. You can also enjoy some gorgeous riverside and city views from atop the roof viewing platform. A stroll down the river is definitely the best way to spend a relaxing late afternoon/evening in Seville. Whilst in the area, make sure to pass by the Mercado Lonja del Barranco. A food court in a handsome glass-and-wrought-iron pavilion near the Isabel II bridge, with stalls serving everything from gourmet seafood salads and avocado wraps to tortillas, cakes and craft beer. Out back you can enjoy a fresh cocktail and enjoy the soothing river breeze, that’s what we did! 😉
- Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza – Being an animal lover, I am extremely ANTI animal cruelty, so I passed on this one. Even so, I do think that the bullring represents a very important and undeniable part of Spanish life and tradition. This one is the oldest bullring in Spain, seating up to 14,000 individuals, and dating back to 1758. I just strolled around the area, taking in the architectural presence of the building, which still functions as a bullring every Sunday from spring to fall. Of course, visitors don’t need to watch a bullfight to learn more about this age old tradition. The adjacent museum exhibits artifacts and information about famous bulls and matadors. Tickets include admission to the museum and a guided tour of the ring.
- Metropol Parasol – Designed by German architect, Jurgen Mayer-Hermann, and located at La Encarnacion square in Seville’s Old City district, the Metropol Parasol is actually described as the largest wooden structure in the world! Nicknamed the Incarnacion’s Mushrooms, this structure is said to have cost over 50 million euros and is home to a marketplace, an antiquarium, a restaurant and an open air plaza. Walking under the mushroom like structure is surreal experience, especially seeing as it’s located in such a traditional, old-school area. Definitely worth looking at.
- Flamenco!!! – Seeing a Flamenco show in Seville is an ABSOLUTE must! Despite the passionate flamenco’s argued origins (some say Jerez, others Seville, some Granada…), Seville is the perfect place to see a show. There are various options to choose from in this city, with numerous establishments advertising a ‘more authentic’ experience of the performance. On doing a bit of research work, I decided to book my first flamenco experience online with Casa del Flamenco. The venue is absolutely gorgeous, set in an Andalusian patio in the charming Santa Cruz neighbourhood. Casa del Flamenco is famous for not making use of microphones or amps, just natural acoustics and powerful musicians at their best. The performance we saw was breath-taking. The power of the performance was stunning, the passion of the performers infectious. It really was a great experience and I highly recommend this one. Try to get there a bit early (about 15/20 minutes in advance), This way you can be first in line, and get to choose the best seats! 🙂
So there you have it! Just a few things to do and see on a short visit to this amazing city! Seville is quite a large place, so if you’re short on time and don’t want to walk as much get on one of those “hop-on-hop-off” buses. Yes, I know, very touristy, It’ll take you around all the main sites, so you can pick and choose what to do and see at your own time!
Enjoy your trip!
PS. One final note!! You simply MUST try the ice cream in Seville. I know gelato is an Italian thing, but boy… the ice cream here was the creamiest, richest, most delicious I’ve ever tasted! That’s right, competing with Florence and Rome here people!!! So do try it out. It’s worth the calories! 😉