Another day in lock down, another chance to catch up on travels past. I’m currently sitting here watching Netflix, drink in hand, reminiscing on a trip to Seville.
Seville is the capital of Andalusia – an historic, atmospheric region in southern Spain. We combined our visit to Seville with trips to Cordoba and Granada to get a feel for the area. We loved the combination of cultures; Moorish castles, palaces, baroque churches and modern cities- as well as the tapas and flamenco of course!
We spent 5 days in Seville at a leisurely pace, but you could easily do everything I list below in a shorter time. I found part of Seville’s charm to be relaxing, eating, drinking, and taking it all in from a nice tapas bar – so I enjoyed the slower pace. Whether you’re visiting Seville for a short break, or as part of a bigger trip, here are 10 things to do when you’re there.
1. Plaza de Espana
The Plaza de Espana is a semicircular complex completed in time to be the centrepiece of the Spanish Americas fair which was scuppered by the Wall Street crash. It has towers, fountains, stairways, brick and tile work and alcoves for the different provinces of Spain and is a flamboyant example of civic pride. The design is a mix of 1920s Art Deco and mock ‘Mudejar’ (Moorish architecture). You can even hire a boat and row / pedal on the lake in the middle.
Also on the site is the Mudejar Pavilion which is now a museum. You can then also visit the Parque de Maria Luisa nearby which was also designed for the Spanish Americas fair. It incorporates earlier buildings originally built for the Spanish Royal family.
2. The Alcazar
Rulers of Seville have occupied the Alcazar site since Roman times. Successive Moorish rulers including the Abbadid and Almohad dynasties continuously enlarged and improved the site to create a massive citadel. The present structure dates from the Christian period post 1248. The history and architecture are fascinating and photos don’t do it justice; definitely a highlight of our visit.
It’s also worth buying tickets in advance as the queues get long and it’s a popular site.
3. Metropol Parasol
People either love or loathe this structure. I was in the former category – I loved it, especially coupled with the fact you can have drinks on the deck! It was fun to climb around but the structure is incongruous with its surroundings which it dwarfs. I also think its worth visiting at sunset to see the sunset and the lights coming on on the structure.
4. Hotel Alfonso XIII
The Hotel Alfonso XIII is Seville’s grandest hotel, and this is where we enjoyed a delicious cheese and dried fig platter in sumptuous surroundings. Definitely recommended.
5. Cathedral and La Giralda
The cathedral is built on the site of the original mosque. Inside is a 19th century mausoleum to Christopher Columbus which may or may not house his remains which been variously interred in Valladolid, Seville, Hispaniola, Havana and Santo Domingo. Appropriate for an explorer!
You can also climb La Giralda, the bell tower which was formerly the minaret of the mosque that once stood here. It’s an interesting climb as well as you climb up via ramps which wrap around the inside of the tower, rather than lots of steps. But don’t be fooled – it’s still hard work on the thighs!
6. La Cartuja
La Cartuja is a museum of modern art on the other side of the river. It used to be a monastery which was sold to become a ceramics factory which closed down so the building is now a quirky museum of modern art. It’s a bit of an odd place, but we liked it.
7. Torre del Oro
Torre del Oro is a watch tower and was originally part of the Alcazar’s fortifications. It was later used as a repository for gold brought back by the Spanish explorers, and as a prison in the Middle Ages. It’s a nice place to visit, with some lovely views from the top and a small maritime museum inside which is well worth a visit.
8. Tobacco Factory and Carmen opera trail
The Tobacco Factory is the largest building in Spain after El Escorial in Madrid. It was built in the 1750s and is now part of the University of Seville. It also features in the Opera ‘Carmen’. There is a Carmen opera trail around Seville taking in all the sites mentioned in the opera. There is even a statue of Carmen opposite the bullring; so if you’re in to opera, it’s a great city for it.
9. Casa de Pilates
Casa de Pilates is the finest remaining private mansion in Seville dating from the 16th century. It features brilliant azulejos (tiles) and patios (courtyards) so typical of Spanish dwellings. It is still lived in today.
10. Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija
This aristocratic 16th-century mansion houses everything from Roman mosaics, Mudéjar plaster work and Renaissance masonry. Its former owner, the late Countess of Lebrija, was an archaeologist and she filled many of the rooms with treasures from her travels. A lovely place for a visit.
Thank you for reading! Seville was a city we really fell in love with – and I hope that comes through in the post. If you ever get a chance to visit this amazing place once lock down is over, hopefully this post can be helpful. Stay safe and happy travelling everyone!