Like every great city in Europe, Seville has its share of must-see attractions, but the capital of Spain’s Andalusia region also boasts that quixotic quality that travellers yearn for the most: atmosphere. While the city’s lively mix of Gothic, Mudéjar, Renaissance and Modern architecture is dazzling, it’s the lust for life of the Sevillian people that makes a trip to Seville so unique and memorable. There’s an irresistible vitality to Seville that bathes Spain’s fourth-largest city with a warm and sunny glow. Whether swaying to the rhythmic tapping of a flamenco dancer’s nail-capped shoes or dancing the night away at a modern open-air discotheque, it’s hard to sit still in this engaging city.
An overview of the top tourist attractions in Seville:
CATEDRAL Y GIRALDA
The Cathedral of Seville is the third largest cathedral in the world behind St Peter’s in Rome and St Paul’s in London. It is also the largest gothic building in the world. It is the most visited place in Seville.
Its construction started at the beginning of the 15th century on the grounds of the old Mosque built during the Arab occupation. The Catholics wanted to demonstrate Seville´s power and wealth after the Reconquest. According to local oral tradition, the members of the cathedral chapter said: “Let’s build a church so beautiful and so grand that those who see it finished will think we are mad”.
The cathedral’s artistic treasures include works of Pedro de Campaña, Francisco de Zurbarán, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo and others. In the church’s transept lies the tomb of Christopher Columbus.
The Patio de los Naranjos and the most of the Giralda tower are the only structures remaining from that mosque.
The tower was originally built by the moors as the minaret´s mosque with a series of ramps inside so that guards could ride to the top on horseback. The bell tower is capped with a bronze weathervane called El Giraldillo, which is a symbol that represents the triumph of faith.
It was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.
The Alcazar complex of royal palaces, patios and gardens has gone past through many transformations over more than one-thousand-year history. It is considered the old Royal Palace of the world and it is still used today by Spain’s Royal family on some occasions.
In the 11th century, Muslim Moors constructed a palace on the site of a 10th-century fort, which was converted to a Gothic-style structure in the 13th century. One hundred years later, King Pedro hired Moorish craftsmen to rebuild and expand the palace in the Mudéjar style. From the starry design of the domed ceiling in the Salón de Embajadores (Ambassadors’ Hall) to the delicate arches and plasterwork of the Patio de las Doncellas (Patio of Maidens), the Palacio de Don Pedro is considered one of the top tourist attractions in Seville.
Together with the Cathedral and Giralda, it was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.
BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ
It was Seville’s Jewish quarter until the late XIII Century, when synagogues were closed, homes were confiscated and thousands of Jewish people were either killed or forced to convert to Christianity. Santa Cruz has narrow, cobbled alleys and streets, it is filled with orange trees, colorfully tiled patios and small-scale squares as well as a wide array of tapas bars and restaurants. The neighbourhood is perfect for visitors who want to experience the ambience of a medieval Spanish city.
PLAZA DE ESPAÑA
In 1914, Sevillian architect Anibal Gonzalez began designing a series of buildings in preparation for the upcoming 1929 Ibero-American Exhibition. Located near Barrio de Santa Cruz in the Parque de María Luisa, the building was constructed for the world’s fair to showcase Spain’s role in history, industry and technology. Among the exhibits housed in the main edifice were manuscripts written by Spanish explorers Columbus and Cortes. The buildings are a rare example of the Regionalist Revival style of architecture, which is characterized by a use of local materials. Today, the structures serve as government offices.
PLAZA DE TOROS
For visitors who are interested in the Spanish tradition of bullfighting, the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza is a can’t-miss location. It is the oldest bullring in Spain that dates back to 1758. Bullfights are still held here on Sundays from spring to fall and up to 14.000 people can attend them. Visitors don’t need to watch a bullfight, however, to learn more about the 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.