Seville’s rich heritage results from the melding of a myriad of cultures including Phoenician, Roman, Visigoth, Arab, and Jewish. Located in southwestern Spain, Seville is a 2.5-hour train ride from Madrid or a 1.75-hour flight from Barcelona. Birth place of Flamenco, the city is also the inspiration for countless operas including Carmen, Don Giovanni and The Barber of Seville. Its architecture weaves Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles into a colorful and vibrant tapestry. Seville straddles the Guadalquivir River with walk-able bridges connecting the historic city center with the lively Triana neighborhood.
Food is a main attraction – a mix of traditional and more innovative cuisine can be found in every corner. Tapas is the hallmark and each establishment proudly puts its heart and soul into its own specialties. With an excellent year-round climate, take advantage of plenty of outdoor dining on terraces and in hidden courtyards. Nightlife in Seville has its own special charms – the restaurants and bars spill out their patrons into the many squares that dot the city. It’s easy to join in on the vibrant lifestyle and “alegría de vivir.”
After a day of sightseeing, there’s plenty of shopping along charming cobblestone streets and picturesque winding passages. Pedestrian-only areas offer an eclectic mix of popular Spanish brands (Zara, Mango, Desigual), international retailers, and local artisans selling ceramics, olive oil, chocolate, orange blossom fragrances, flamenco fashion, leather goods, musical instruments, and embroidery. As you wander the city’s endless, twisting streets, Google Maps often proves useless—bustling streets quickly lead to petite passageways barely the width of a sidewalk and not easily tracked by any app. But, wander you must, since this is the best way to embrace Seville’s hidden treasures.
Museo del Baile Flamenco:
Located in an eighteenth-century building, learn about the origins and evolution of Flamenco, the different categories of this passionate dance, and witness the passionate artistry live in a nightly show.
Barrio de Triana:
On the west bank of the river, this neighborhood has many beautiful churches including the Chapel of the Sailors. Famous for its pottery, pay a visit to the Triana Ceramic Centre, housed in a former ceramics factory.
Plaza de Toros:
The most important bullring in the country has a capacity of 13,000 seats. Not up for a bullfight? Visit the museum with an array of sculptures, costumes, and bullfighting paintings on display.
Catedral de Santa Marìa de la Sede:
This is the largest Gothic church in the world and the third largest after the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica. Built on the site of the Almohad Mosque, remains of this mosque are still preserved in its minaret, symbol of the city. Head to the top for excellent views of the city.
The oldest palace in Europe, it remains a royal residence where Spain’s royal family stays when visiting Seville. It’s actually a group of palaces and gardens built in different eras dating back to the tenth century. Watch Game of Thrones (The Water Gardens of Dorne), or the movie Knight & Day for scenes filmed here.)
Santa Cruz District & San Bartolomé District:
These districts make up the city’s old Jewish quarter. Wander through lovely squares like Plaza de Doña Elvira, Plaza de la Alianza and Plaza de Santa Cruz. Visit the Interpretation Centre of the Jewish Quarter: a permanent exhibit which reveals the legends of the Sephardic community that inhabited this quarter.
Archive of the Indies:
In 1795 by order of King Carlos III, all documents relating to the discovery of America were collected and stored in this Renaissance building where 43,000 files are kept.
Where Aire Street and Marmoles Street meet, there are three famous Roman columns that belonged to a second century temple built by Hadrian. (During our stay at Palacio Marmoles, we walked by this historic site almost daily.)
Maria Luísa Park:
Over 340,000 square meters, it was the headquarters of the Latin American Exhibition of 1929. The main attraction is the Plaza de España with its gorgeous brick and ceramic panels. In the avenues adjacent to the park are the pavilions of the countries that participated in the exhibition including America, Argentina, Guatemala, Brazil, Columbia, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Chili, Uruguay, and Portugal. (Star Wars fans, you will recognize Plaze de España from Attack of the Clones— it’s where Anakin and Padmé arrive on Nadoo.)
Torre del Oro:
This stone tower, dating back to the thirteenth century, houses the Naval Museum which documents the nautical history of Seville, an important inland port.
The main festival of the city, it melds together rituals, arts, and celebrations. Sixty religious brotherhoods parade and proceed throughout the city streets in this season of penance. Easter Sunday begins the bullfighting season which lasts through October. Following Easter is the ever-popular April Fair, a colorful explosion of fiestas, parties… and dresses!
Hop on Hop Off Bus:
For a fun city tour on a double-decker bus, sign up for a one- or two-day ticket. (Your ticket will include some excellent complimentary walking tours throughout the city.)
A collection of four tapas restaurants sprinkled throughout the city. All offer excellent food in an authentically local setting.
This beautiful tapas restaurant is nestled in the courtyard of the Hotel Palacio Pinello. The setting is bright and minimalist – an nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the city streets.
Can’t say enough about our amazing Devour Tours Tapas tour – a great way to get a truly authentic taste of the city. It’s a must for your Seville itinerary.
This Spanish fashion designer has several locations throughout the city all offering simple but chic designs for men and women.
Il Corte Inglés:
Spain’s largest department store, there are two locations in Seville within blocks of each other. One focuses on home decor and housewares, the other features a gourmet food hall, and fashion and accessories for men and women including Spanish brands Bimba Y Lola, Jocavi, and Cuplé. On the top floor there’s a roof top restaurant with a bird’s eye view of the city.
Mercado El Postigo:
Browse the airy courtyard of this gallery space which brings together a group of artisans selling hand-made jewelry, pottery, and fashion accessories.
This vaulted, looming wooden structure located at La Encarnacion Square was designed by the German architect Jürgen Mayer and nicknamed “the Mushrooms.” It has received a lot of attention (and criticism) for its avant-guarde design. Inside is the Central Market, featuring 40 different stalls with an array of merchandise: fruits, game meats, fish, seafood, pastries, and of course the famous hand sliced Jamón Ibérico – Iberian cured ham made from acorn and chestnut fed pigs.
Lovely men’s shirts, silk ties, and furnishings locally made and at affordable prices. Located nearby to Plaza de Jesus de la Pasion.
Convento Madre de Dios de la Piedada:
What beer is to Trappist Monks, sweets are to the Convent Sisters – baking fulfills their requirement of prayer and work, and doubles as a source of income. Wooden turnstiles create privacy and allows them to sell the sweets unseen. You might have to visit them daily since the pastries on offer change often. Many of the recipes hail from Jewish traditions since most convents housed Jewish women escaping persecution during the 15th century.
Seville has no shortage of accommodations. To name just a few: the luxurious and iconic Hotel Alfonso XIII; the beautifully appointed and well located Gran Melia Colon; or for a unique stay, check into Palacio Marmoles, an apartment/hotel, originally an 18th century palace and private home, transformed into seven exquisite apartments each with well-equipped kitchens and lovely furnishings, and all with access to a rooftop terrace with views of the cathedral.
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