Seville is one the most beautiful cities in Spain; its architecture, its extremely rich history, its food, its weather, its friendly and warm people, and, of course, flamenco! Unfortunately, these are also reasons for the city to be crowded and very touristy.
There are always ways to get around these minor problems. My tips are:
1. Buy tickets for the most important monuments in advance and get the Fast-Track or Skip-The-Line ones.
2. If you don’t get the tickets in advance, wake up super early because otherwise, you will have to stand in line for hours which will mess up your itinerary (especially if you have limited time in the city).
3. To escape from the tourists and see the authentic Seville, go to Triana. Of course there will be tourists, it is a very popular part of the city, however, you’ll do more mingling with locals here than anywhere else in the city.
4. Walk until you drop dead! If you do, chances are you will get lost and that is the moment when you discover the narrow non-touristy streets.
5. One more thing to consider is that the parks and plazas might be closed due to weather, especially if it’s windy.
And that’s it… Without further ado, let’s dive into day 1!!
PS: There’s a lot of history coming your way!!!
We arrived at Seville at around 3 pm and went directly to see the Setas de Sevilla (Mushrooms of Seville). This wooden structure, located in Plaza de la Encarnación, is also known by the name of Metropol Parasol and it is said to be the largest wooden structure in the world with dimensions of 490 by 230 feet and a height of 85 feet.
The Setas de Sevilla were designed by the German architect Jürgen Mayer who was chosen to develop the project after winning an international bidding competition.
The structure is divided into 4 sections. Level 0 (underground) houses the Antiquarium where Roman and Moorish remains are displayed in a museum; level 1 (street level) is the Central Market; levels 2 and 3 are panoramic terraces (and a restaurant) where you can enjoy one of the best views of the city center.
A small building located in the heart of the city is believed to be the place where the painter Diego Velazquez was born.
Take into consideration that this a house facade and not a museum; you won’t even be able to go inside. However, as it is very challenging to find it, you will get lost in the little narrow streets of Seville and will discover a different side of the city that you’ll fall in love with.
Since 1985, the house belonged to the famous designers Victorio y Lucchino and was used as the brand’s headquarters until 2013 when they had to sell it; it has been closed ever since. It is upsetting to me that this place with so much history is not open to the public. I would have loved to see the way this genius lived his firsts years, or maybe see an exhibition of his work, but is closed.
Nevertheless, not all is lost. Currently, there is a crowdfunding campaign going on to find collaborations and/or sponsorship in order to turn this building into a world reference center in the study and dissemination of the work and life of one of the greatest painters of all times.
Triana is known in Seville as “the independent republic of Triana” due to its strong identity, azulejos (tiles), bullfighters, and talented flamenco artists.
In Triana I’ll show you the most important sights however, I want you to get lost and take in the beauty and magic of this town.
– Puente Isabel II (Puente de Triana/ Triana Bridge)
This bridge was built under the reign of Isabel II (hence its name) in 1852 and it is considered the oldest (preserved) iron bridge in Spain. It connects the city center of Seville with the neighborhood of Triana crossing the Guadalquivir river.
FUN FACT: If you stand by the railing of the bridge and people pass walking in front of you, the floor trembles. I didn’t feel it as much with the cars as with the people passing by.
– Capilla Virgen del Carmen
Visiting this little chapel right on the Triana Bridge will allow you to enter the true essence of the people of Triana.
When the bridge was still a floating bridge (made with floats or shallow-draft boats) the Virgin was located in the plaza next to it (Plaza del Altozano). The construction of the current bridge began in 1840 and so the Virgen had to be moved to another chapel until the bridge was inaugurated in 1852. Then, at the beginning of the 20th century, the bridge was to be extended, the chapel had to be demolished and the Virgin was once again moved. The neighbors of Triana were (and are) so devoted to this Virgin that the City Council had to commission the construction of a new chapel to the architect Aníbal González, which was completed in 1928 and it is beautiful!!
– Triana Market
The market is located in the Plaza del Altozano, next to the Triana Bridge and it was built on top of the remains of the Castle of San Jorge, the seat of the inquisitional court. For the Universal Exposition in Seville (1992) and to modernize the market, the remains of the castle and an Almohade cemetery were demolished.
Now, it is the place where you can enjoy delicious tapas, fresh fried fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, and the company of the lively local Andalusian people.
– Betis Street
Calle Betis borders the Guadalquivir river extending from the bridge of Isabel II up to Plaza de Cuba on the south of the city. From this street, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the “Sevillian skyline” and can see many of the most important buildings of the city: the Giralda, the Torre del Oro, the Bullring, the facade of the church of the Hospital de la Caridad or the Maestranza Theater.
Plaza del Triunfo
This plaza was previously known as Plazuela de la Lonja in reference to the Archives of the Indies. Then, in 1755, during the celebration of the Mass of All Saints, an earthquake occurring in Lisbon affected several Spanish cities including Seville and destroyed the chapel where the celebration was happening. In honor to this day, a monument (or Triunfo) was built right in the center of the plaza.
Its importance is due to the fact that it faces three really unique buildings declared by UNESCO as World Heritage in 1987: Archive of the Indies, Royal Alcázar of Seville, and the Cathedral.
Seville Cathedral is the largest gothic building and the third largest Christian building (the Vatican is the largest and Saint Paul Cathedral, in London, is the second). Its construction lasted a century, from 1401 to 1507, and I personally think it was worth it because the building is truly magnificent. “Hagamos una iglesia tan hermosa y tan grandiosa que los que la vieren labrada nos tengan por locos.” (Let us build a church so beautiful and so magnificent that those who see it finished will think we are mad).
The cathedral is home to the 2nd biggest organ in the world which is played twice a year (on Easter and Christmas). The instrument is so big that, originally, it needed 13 people to play it.
Another amazing monument inside the cathedral is the tomb of Christopher Columbus. This incredibly beautiful tomb contains only 20 percent of the admiral’s ashes and it has been proven to be his after a DNA test done in 2003. The tomb was originally installed in Havana and it remained there for 100 years before being moved to Seville after Spain lost control of Cuba. It represents the four kings of the four regions of Spain carrying the tomb of Christopher Columbus (Navarra, Aragón, Castilla, and Leon).
There is much more to see inside the Cathedral of Seville so you should take your time and walk around and inside every little chapel, look up and appreciate the architecture, and definitely get yourself a guide!
Price: 9 euros
Mondays from 16:30 to 18:00: FREE
The Giralda is the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral and it was previously the minaret of the Great Mosque of Seville. During Moorish times, the tower was used as a minaret, to call the faithful to prayer, and also as an observatory. After the Christian Reconquest, the tower stayed as is because of a threat by King Alfonso X preventing the Moorish from destroying it; “if they removed a single stone, they would all be put the sword”. In the mid 14th century an earthquake destroyed it and it was replaced with a way smaller tower.
If you were to climb to the top, which you definitely should do, you would have to go 35 floors up (no elevator!). Good thing, or bad, is that there are no stairs. The tower is made of ramps (35) wide enough to allow two mounted guards to pass. The mounts were either horses or donkeys and sometimes the guards would go up in a cart.
At the top, you have one of the best views of the city, the cathedral, and the Courtyard of Orange Trees. Truly beautiful.
Price: Included in General Admission Ticket (Cathedral)
Plaza Virgen de los Reyes
This plaza is located in the Santa Cruz quarter, in the heart of the city’s old town. In this plaza, as in Plaza del Triunfo, you can find some of the most important buildings of the city: the Cathedral, the Giralda, La Encarnación Convent, and the Archbishop’s palace. You can also find many horse carriages that will give you a delightful stroll around the city in the Sevillian way.
General Archive of the Indies
Registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the General Archive of the Indies houses 43,000 files, with about 80 million pages, and 8,000 maps and drawings illustrating the history of the Spanish colonies in the Americas.
The building served several purposes including a market of merchants (Casa Lonja de Mercaderes) and a painting school founded by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo in 1660. And it wasn’t until 1785 that this historic building was turned into the important Archive of the Indies.
Price: There is no entrance fee and you don’t need to reserve in advance or anything. Visit it!!
Torre del Oro
The Torre del Oro or Gold Tower is a military watchtower built during Moorish occupation by the Almohad Caliphate in order to control access to Seville via the Guadalquivir river and to defend the port of Seville from potential attacks. It has 3 levels, 2 of them dodecagonal (12 sides), each built in different centuries and has gone through many uses such as observation tower, a prison, a chapel, and even a gunpowder store.
Nowadays, it is the Maritime Museum of Seville, small but very interesting, displaying everything navigation related, from old navigational instruments, historical documents, and nautical charts.
Climbing to the 3rd level of the tower will reward you with yet another breathtaking view of the city and the Triana neighborhood.
Price: 3 euros (cash)
Cid Campeador Monument
This sculpture was a gift from the Hispanic Society of America to Spain on the occasion of the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It was done by the artist Anna Hyatt Huntington who had fallen in love with the history and culture of Spain.
El Cid Campeador was a nobleman and military leader of medieval Spain. His name comes from a combination of two words in two different languages. Cid means “the Lord” and it is believed to be derived from the Arabic word al-sayyid; Campeador, on the other hand, is a Spanish word and it means “Outstanding Warrior”. El Cid became a national hero, the protagonist of one of the most significant Spanish epic poems, and a symbol of the Spanish culture.
Plaza de España
This magnificent plaza, even more than ones you have already seen in Seville, is a true landmark of the city. It was designed by architect Aníbal González to be the inauguration site of the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition.
Plaza de España is a semi-circular brick building of 164,042 square feet! All along the plaza, there is a canal of 1690 feet in length which is the reason why the plaza is also known as the Venice of Seville. In this canal, you can rent a rowing boat and enjoy a truly romantic and different experience. Two other important elements are the two tall towers (243 ft) standing at each end side of the plaza that can be seen from all over Seville (from all the viewpoints I’ve taken you through).
Plaza de España is a symbol of regionalism and is characterized by 48 tiled benches that represent the 46 provinces of Spain (excluding Seville) and the two archipelagos (Canarias and Baleares). In contrast, the canal is crossed by four beautiful bridges that represent the ancient kingdoms of Spain: León, Castilla, Aragón, and Navarra.
Even though it is not located in the old town, you HAVE to make time to visit this unique and impressive monument chosen the second best place of interest in the world and the first at European and national level, according to the Travelers’ Choice Awards 2018.
Maria Luisa Park
Maria Luisa Park occupies the grounds and gardens of the Palace of San Telmo. This space was donated to the city of Seville by Infanta Maria Luisa Fernanda, the Duchess of Montpensier after her death for use as a public park.
This park is where Plaza de España is located and it is only one of the many monuments that you can find in the park: Monument to Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, a Spanish Romanticist poet and writer; Monument to Miguel de Cervantes, the greatest writer in the Spanish language (we all know who he was, right?!); The Fountain of the Lions; and the Water-lily Pool.
Maria Luisa Park is Seville’s principal green area and it is beautiful! You can spend here as much time as you want, just take in the beauty of it and relax!
Casa de Pilatos
Casa de Pilatos (Pilate’s House) is a palace built in the 16th century and it is the most important example and reference of Seville’s palatial civil architecture. The palace has floors full Roman mosaics, almost every wall is covered with azulejos (ceramic tiles) in different Mudejar styles (considered to be among the finest in Seville), beautiful high carved wood ceilings, and in the patios, you can find many Roman statues.
The main attractions on the ground floor are the two beautiful courtyards and in the center of the building, as is typical Andalucian architecture, you’ll find a patio surrounded by a series of rooms serving different purposes (ie. chapel, ceremonial room, living room). The first floor has several rooms with a collection of paintings and tapestries dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries and a series of perfectly furnished rooms.
Casa de Pilatos is currently owned and inhabited by the dukes of Medinaceli and therefore, one of the wings of the palace is not open to the public. Also, all throughout the house are many family pictures.
Moreover, several films have been shot here, including Lawrence of Arabia in 1962, 1492: Conquest of Paradise in 1992, Kingdom of Heaven in 2005, and Knight and Day in 2009.
Ground floor + Guided Visit to first floor: 12 euros
Only ground floor: 10 euros
Mondays from 15:00 to 19:00: FREE
*Audio guide included in both prices.
Museo de Bellas Artes
Seville Museum of Fine Arts is the second most important gallery in Spain after the Prado Museum. It is located a bit further away from the city center, in what used to be the old Merced Calzada Convent. If you like art, and more specifically, the art of Spanish artists, then this a must-see. The museum has amongst its collections pieces dating from the medieval period until the 20th century, including brilliant works by brilliant artists such as Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (predominantly), Juan de Vales Leal, Francisco de Zurbaran, Diego Velázquez, Francisco Pacheco, Alonso Cano, El Greco, and many more.
Price: 1.50 euros
Walk around the Old Town (Santa Cruz – Jewish Quarter)
Santa Cruz is the labyrinth of houses and plazas bordered by the Real Alcazar, the Jardines de Murillo, Calle Mateos Gago, and Calle Santa Maria. This is where the second greatest Jewish population in the Iberian Penisula was concentrated (the first one was in Toledo) and is, without a doubt, the most famous quarter of Seville.
– Murillo Gardens
The Murillo Gardens are located next to the Royal Alcázar, next to the Paseo de Catalina de Ribera. The gardens actually belonged to the Alcázar until 1862, when they were donated to the city to be integrated in the Seville Fair. The gardens were previously known as the Retiro Gardens or Orchards and were re-designed in 1915 by Juan Talavera to become what we know today as Murillo Gardens.
– Plaza de Santa Cruz
In this plaza stood, since 1391, the Church of Santa Cruz built on top of a pre-existing synagogue. Then, in 1682, in this church was buried the painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (this is where the Murillo Gardens get their name from; the church is very close to the gardens). The building was demolished in 1814 by the contractor Mayer, creating the Plaza de Santa Cruz, until 1918 when Juan Talavera y Heredia re-designed it.
– Water Alley
The Water Alley is 460 feet long, beginning at Plaza de Alfaro and ending at Calle Vida. The street runs adjacent to the Royal Alcázar’s wall and in its interior were two pipes that led water from the Caños de Carmona to the gardens of the royal palace (hence the street name). Today, you can go for a pleasant walk through the most iconic Seville, leading from the labyrinthine neighborhood that was the Jewish quarter to the broad tree-lined avenues of the Jardines de Murillo.
– Juderia Street
The Callejón de la Judería is one of the exits of the neighborhood of Santa Cruz, which connects the neighborhood with the Patio de Banderas. The street is perhaps one of the most charming of the entire Barrio de Santa Cruz. Its layout and structure are, at least, peculiar.
– Patio de Banderas
The Patio de Banderas has an area of 4728 square feet and is located within the environment of the Alcázar of Seville; it allows passage to the Barrio de Santa Cruz and the Plaza del Triunfo through the Juderia Street and is surrounded by the high walls of the Alcázar. From some places in the patio, you can get excellent views of the upper part of La Giralda.
Royal Alcázar of Sevilla
Created in the Christian era by Muslim workers, the Royal Alcázar of Sevilla is the oldest inhabited palace in Europe (Monarchs of Spain stay here when they visit Seville). Seville’s Royal Palace was originally a Moorish fort built in the 10th century by the first Caliph of Andalucía and is composed of four palaces: Justice Room, Gothic Palace, Mudejar Palace, and House of Trade of the Indies.
But let’s start at the beginning. Seville was conquered in the year 711 by the Arabs who decided to build a palace-fortress on top of the Roman settlement that was on site. In 1248, Fernando III of Castile regained the city and turned the palace-fortress into a Royal Palace. And it was his son, Alfonso X, who ordered the construction of the Gothic Palace. In the chapel of this palace is where Christopher Colombus would pray to the Virgin of la Antigua.
Between 1340 and 1350, the Justice Room was built under the reign of Alfonso XI, and it was the place where the council of viziers met, work that continued under the Christian monarchy. In this palace, the fountain represents life; the fountain itself symbolizes birth, the path of the water symbolizes life, and the outfall symbolizes death. Also, in the Justice Room, there are said to be secret passages that lead to the Gold Tower where there would be boats waiting for the monarchs to escape when needed.
Later on, in 1364, after the earthquake of 1356, which terribly affected the city, King Pedro I ordered the demolition of three Palatine Almohad buildings to build the Mudejar palace attaching it to the existing Gothic palace. In the patio of this palace, called the Courtyard of the Dolls, are hidden in its arches two doll heads and it is believed that the person who finds them will have two years of good luck.
Lastly, in 1503 the Catholic Monarchs approved the creation of the Casa de Contratación de Indias (House of Trade of the Indies), which was an institutional body in charge of promoting and regulating trade and navigation with Spanish territories overseas and which performed tasks of remission and receipt of goods, technical scientific activities and also judicial activities. In this building, the Monarchs also ordered the construction of the Admiral’s Room in honor of Christopher Columbus.
The Royal Alcázar of Seville is one of the most important buildings of the city and one of the most beautiful and full of history but without a doubt, its gardens, with dimensions of 239,502 square feet, are a fundamental element of the Alcázar. They are the oldest in the city and since its creation have undergone great alterations that have transformed their primitive layout.
You will have to spend a few hours walking through this incredible palace but I promise you they will be well-spent hours. You’ll be fascinated by the beauty and the majesty of the Royal Alcázar of Seville.
Ground floor: 11.50 euros
Royal Chambers: 4.50 euros
BONUS: Tablao Flamenco
Flamenco is an experience that you CANNOT skip when you visit any city of Andalusia. There are many Flamenco shows all throughout the city so you will have a lot of options to choose from and I can tell you that each one of them will make you feel a different way and will make you fall in love with the Andalucian culture one “quejio” at a time. We chose Tabalo El Arenal, located in a very centric location. The prices are: Show and Dinner – 75 €; Show and Selection of Tapas – 62 €; Show and Drink – 39 €. Remember this is only one of many options, so do your research, read reviews, and do whatever you have to do to decide for one but please DO attend a Flamenco show.
Seville is such a remarkable city! If you visit Spain, make sure to make it to this marvelous city; I promise you that you’ll be amazed and will want to stay here forever, I know I did!
On the other hand, if you think you have an extra day and would like to get to know another city in Spain, here is a one-day itinerary for Córdoba, another magical city!
Are you planning a visit to Seville after reading this? Let me know if this post has been helpful or if you would like more info! I’ll be pleased to help you!Spread the love: