Travel Guides Spain | Guide to Sevilla

Guide to Sevilla

What to do and see in Sevilla?

Sevilla is located in the middle of Andalucia in the South of Spain. It is the only Spanish city with an interior port with the capacity to receive large ships. The airport, designed by the famous architect Rafael Monero, is just 10 kms away. Sevilla's train station is considered to be one of the best in the country. The AVE high speed train places Sevilla just 2 and a half hours away from the capital Madrid.
Sevilla is extremely hot during the summer months with temperatures between 40ºC and 45ºC. Spring is the best time to visit the city, although winter temperatures are generally very mild. Like other Andalucian towns Sevilla represents a mixture of cultures and styles.

The Guadalquivir river divides the city in two and following the Expo in 1992 has become a symbol of the city once again.







 
 



 





 

 








History of Seville

Over its history Sevilla was occupied by the Fenecians, Greeks and Carthaginians. Later in 205 B.C. it was taken over by the Romans. It was during the Roman period that buildings such as the a 'Torre del Oro' were built. The Moors took over the city from the Romans during which time there was great cultural and economic expansion. Finally in 1248 king Fernando III de Castilla conquered the city and it became Christian once again

The Spanish 'Reyes Católicos' were responsible for many of Sevilla's symbolic buildings such as the Cathedral, the 'Casa de Pilates', the 'Casa de las Dueñas', the 'Colegiata del Salvador' and 'la Casa de Contratación'.

It wasn't until the 20th century and the 1929 Expo that Sevilla became the political, cultural and economic centre of Andalucia.


Walks in Sevilla

There are 4 important neighbourhoods in Sevilla. Los Arenales and Santa Cruz are the two where most of the city'simportant historical monuments can be found.


The Arenales neighbourhood: This is the port area. In the 17th century the river and port became blocked and it wasn't until the 20th century and the 1992 Expo that the river was reconditioned and became navegable once again. The bull ring, the 'Torre de Oro', the Maritime Museum, the Magdalena church and the Avenida Cristóbal Colón are all located in this nieghbourhood.Sevilla


The Santa Cruz neighbourhood: This neighbourhood was built on what was once an old Jewish area. It is a very pleasant area to stroll around. It is characterized by narrow streets, pretty houses and typical indoor patios. The Giralda, the Cathedral, the 'Plaza del Triunfo', the 'Reales Alcázares', 'la calle de las Sierpes' (Sevilla's most famous street) and much more are all located here.

Sevilla The Triana neighbourhood: This is the oldest part of the city. It is located to the South of the centre. It has typical narrow, cobbled streets with small shops selling craftwork. There are also many good tapas bars and restaurants. Christopher Columbus lived in the Cartujo monastery in the 15th century which is on the Cartujo island in the middle of the river in this neighbourhood.

The Macarena neighbourhood: This is located to the North of the city. It is an area full of churches, convents, old bars and many more ancient buildings. The Andalucian Parliament has its headquarters here.

 

Things to do and see in Sevilla

Castles and Palaces:

  • Reales Alcázares and Gardens: In 1364 King Pedro I built his palace upon the site of a fortress dating back to the Moorish period. It took just two years to build including the surrounding gardens. Over the years different monarchs added to the palace and gardens. The most outstanding aspects of the whole complex are:

      Sevilla
    • The Alcázares gardens: These are made up of different types of trees, pretty flowers, ponds,fountains, pavillions and terraces.
    • Carlos V Rooms: These consist of bedrooms, a living room and a Royal chapel all decorated with tiles and 16th century tapestries.
    • The Embassador Rooms (Salón de Embajadores): These rooms date back to 1427 - the vault is very impressive with its intricate golden wood work.
    • Carlos V Palace facade: Mudejar, magnificent
    • Patio de las doncellas: You can see very interesting patterns in the stonework made by artists from Granada.
    • Patio del Yeso: This is an exquisite garden in which the flower beds and water channels dating back to the original 12th century fortress have been preserved.
    • Patio de la Muñecas: This patio and the connecting rooms make up the domestic quarters. They get the name from the two faces which are on one of the arches.

  • The Torre del Oro: Avenida de Cristóbal Colón. Located in the Arenal neighbourhood. In the Moorish period it formed part of the walled complex of the Reales Alcazares. It was built in 1220 as a watchtower and there was another identical tower on the otherside of the river, the two were connected by a chain, something which meant that enemy boats would be unable to progress up the river. The small tower in the dome was added in 1760. The tower got its name from the golden tiles which were used to decorate it. The tower now houses the Maritime Museum.

  • The Archbishop's Palace: 16th - 17th century

  • Casa de las Dueñas: A 16th century palace, now the residence of the Duchess of Alba. It has a splendid Andalucian patio and houses many pieces of art beonging to the family.

  • Casa de Pilatos: Plaza Pilatos, 1. Mudejar style, the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Mecinacelli. It is a wonderful building with beautiful gardens and charming patios. It houses an important collection of Roman and Greek sculptures.

  • San Telmo Palace: Avenida de Roma, located in the Santa Cruz neighbourhood, opposite the Alfonso XIII Hotel. It was built in 1682 and was the first naval school in Spain. In 1849 it became the residence to the Duke and Duchess of Montpensier (sister to queen Isabel II). Now it is the headquarters of the President of the Andalucian Autonomous Government. The Baroque, ornate entrance by Figueroa, 1734, is particularly interesting.

  • Condesa de Lebrija Palace: c/ Cuna. This magnificent palace was built in the 15th century. It houses a collection of sculptures and an Italian mosaic.

  • Torre de Don Fabrique: c/ Santa Clara, 40 - this is a defensive tower in a Roman, Gothic style.


Cathedrals and Churches:

  • The Cathedral and the Giralda: The Cathedral, the third largest in the world, was built between 1402 and 1502 in a Gothic style, upon the remains of an ancient mosque. The high alter is spectacular consisting of 44 gold panals each carefully inscribed by Flamencan artists from the 15th and 16th centuries. The remains of Christopher Columbus were brought here in 1891.

    • La Giralda was built in 1198 originally as a minaret. In 1568 the upper part was renovated by Hernán Ruiz and it has remained the same ever since.
    • El Patio de los Naranjos is a patio full of orange trees and a fountain where muslims washed their hands and feet before entering the mosque.

  • Iglesia de la Magdalena: c/ San Pablo, 10. This Baroque church was built by Leonardo de Figueroa in 1709 upon the site of an ancient Mudejar church of which the Quinta Angustia chapel (to the left of the main entrance) is all that remains. The frescos by Lucas Valdés are worthy of attention.

  • La Encarnación Convent: Plaza de la virgen de los Reyes. This is also located in the Santa Cruz neighbourhood. It is an Augustian convent founded in 1385 by Fernán Martínez. The 14th century church is in a Mudejar style.

  • Basílica de la Macarena: c/ Béquer, 1. Located in the Macarena neighbourhood, it is dedicated to the Virgen de la Esperanza Macarena. It was built in a Neobaroque style by Aurelio Gómez Millán. It is adjoined to the Iglesia de San Gil (13th century).

  • Santa Paula Convent: c/ Santa Paula, 11. This convent dates back to 1475. The building is a mixture of Mudejar and Renaissance styles. Inside you can see some important Baroque works of art. The nuns here make some delicious cakes and jams which are on sale to the public. There is also a museum which houses religious objects and works of art.

  • Parroquia de San Pedro: c/ Doña María Coronel, 1.This is located in the Macarena neighbourhood. It was built between the 14th and 15th centuries and you can see a mixture of styles, a Mudejar tower, a Baroque bell and entrance. Diego Velázquez was baptised here in 1599.


Museums:

  • La Cartuja Historical Centre and the Contemporary Art Museum: Cartuja island, Avenida Américo Vespucio, 2. Located in the Triana neighbourhood. La Cartuja de Santa María de las Cuevas, is an ancient monastery founded in 1400 where Christopher Columbus stayed and worked. In the 19th century it was converted into a ceramics factory. The building was restored for the 1992 Expo and it now houses the Contemporary Art Museum.

  • The Bellas Artes Museum: Located in what was once the Merced Convent rebuilt in 1612 by Juan de Oviedo. The three patios full of fruit trees and flowers are definitely worth a visit aswell as the Baroque church with its collection of paintings and sculptures some dating back to the middle ages and many by Spanish artists from the 'Siglo de Oro' such as Murillo, Juan de Valdés Leal and Zurbarán...

  • Carruajes Museum: c/ Virgen de la Consolación, 4. Located in the Cuban Hispanic Institute which is now Real Club de Enganches de Andalucía. It houses a collection of carriages, particularly interesting for those interested in horses.

  • The Maritime Museum: Located in the Torre del Oro, Avenida de Cristóbal Colón, in the Arenal neighbourhood.


Parks and Gardens:

  • María Luisa Park: This park is set within the grounds of the San Telmo Palace, (see San Telmos Palace above). In 1893 the area was given to Sevilla for the creation of a park. Jean Forestier, the landscape designer who designed the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, was given the task of remodelling the park which formed part of the 1929 Great Exhibition. The most interesting parts of the park are the Plaza de España and the Plaza de América where the Art and Popular Customs museum pavillion is situated (Spanish ethnography). The Archeological Museum is nearby in a Neorenaissance pavillion.

  • The Magic Island Theme Park: Located in the Spanish pavillion on the Cartuja island, this park recreates 16th century Sevilla. It has lakes, restaurants and much more for a pleasant day out.

  • Cartuja Isand: Located in the Triana neighbourhood (see La Cartuja Historical Centre above). It was redeveloped for the expo 1992 and now has parks, pavillions, museums and more.

Important buildings and Monuments:

  • La Caridad Hospital: c/ Temprado, 3. Founded in the 15th century by Pedro Sánchez Falconete. It is now a home for old people. The church is in a Baroque Sevillan style. The 18th century square patio with its Italian statues and fountains stand out together with a 13th century arch. In the church there are various paintings by some of the best 16th century artists: Valdés Leal, Murillo…

  • The Town Hall: Plaza Nueva. Located in one of the most important Renaissance buildings in the whole of Spain. The Western facade is Neoclassic and inside is a mixture of styles. It houses paintings by Velázquez, Valdés Leal and Zurbarán.

  • General de Indias Archive: Avenida de la Constitución. Located in the Santa Cruz neighbourhood, in a 16th century building (1598) designed by Juan de Herrera. It houses all the documentation related to Christpoher Columbus' voyage to the new world and the colonization of America. It was king Carlos III who in 1785 decided to put together the archive which contains 86 million transcripts and 8000 maps as well as letters by King Felipe II, Christopher Columbus, Hernan Cortés and Cervantes.

  • Hospital de Venerables: Plaza de los Venerables, 8. Located in the Santa Cruz neighbourhood. It was built by Leonardo Figueroa and opened in 1697. It was formerly used as a home for retired priests but following renovation it is now used as a Cultural Centre which housing exhibitions. The Baroque church hospital is particularly interesting with frescos by Juan de Valdés Leal and his son hijo Lucas Valdés, the sculptures of San Fernando and San Pedro are by Pedro Roldán.

  • The Tabacco Factory: c/ San Fernando, 4. This factory produced ¾ of the cigarettes smoked in Europe in the 19th century. It was built between 1728 - 1771 and is the biggest building in Spain following the Escorial. The building now forms part of Sevilla University.

  • La Real Maestranza Bull Ring: Avenida Cristóbal Colón. The bull ring was built in a Baroque style in 1881 in the Arenal neighbourhood. It is architecturally very beautiful. Together with Las Ventas in Madrid it is one of the most important bull rings in Spain. It has a museum inside.

  • La Real Maestranza Theatre: This theatre was built in 1991 by Luis Marín de Terán and Aurelio del Pozoand. It is the headquarters for the Sevillan Symphonic Orchestra.

Fiestas in Seville:Sevilla The most important and famous fiesta is the Feria de Abril, which takes place two weeks afterEaster Sunday. Numerous stalls are set up in an area on the outskirts of Sevilla where people enjoy eating, drinking and traditional Sevillan dancing from 1pm onwards, sometimes carrying on all night.
Easter Week in Seville:
There are many traditional processions in Sevilla where different groups carry ancient religious statues through the streets. The most important processions take place on Good Friday.
Corpus Christi, This is celebrated in May and June depending on when Easter falls. There are many more local fiestas throughout Andalucia including the famous Rocio pilgrimage in the days before Pentecost.

Shopping in Seville: You can buy everything related to horses and horse riding in Sevilla as well as articles related to Flamenco - dresses, fans, shawls etc. Sevilla also offers some excellent local products such as wines, cheeses, cold meats, cakes and pastries and you can get some interesting hand made arts and crafts (the Triana neighbourhood). There is a Sunday art market outside the Bellas Artes Museum.

Sevillan Cuisine reflects the diversity of the province. Thanks to local agriculture there are many excellent raw ingredients available such as extra virgin olive oil and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Typical dishes include gazpacho, Andalucian stew (chickpeas and vegetables), Flamencan eggs, Sevillan style beef, Sevillan style duck, prawn salad and spicy potatoes. Sweets and cakes from Andalucia are also very good and many have Arabic influences.

Advice for eating out in Sevilla: Tapas is very important to Sevillan cuisine. Good choices are fried fish, cured ham and other cold meats, grilled prawns and calamares. One of the best bars to try in Sevilla is Enrique Becerra, c/ Gamazo, 2. But you will find many excellent small bars tucked away in the Triana, the Remedios and the Macarena neighbourhoods.

Restaurants in Sevilla:

  • La taberna del Alabardero, c/ Zaragoza, 20. (Tel: 954 502 721), reginal cuisine, both traditional and innovative - recommended.
  • La Montería-Casa Joaquín Márquez, c/ Felipe II, 8 (Tel: 954 241 229), traditional Andalucian cuisine;
  • Marea Grande, c/ Diego Angulo Iñiguez, 16, creative Andalucian cuisine using excellent quality ingredients.
  • Becerrita, c/ Recadero, 9, (Tel: 954 412 057), very good traditional cuisine;
  • El Espigón I, c/ Bogotá, 1, (Tel: 954 239 256), an excellent choice for fish and seafood. Good meat dishes too.

The best restaurants in Sevilla Province:

  • La Alquería, c/ virgen de las Nieves, (Tel: 955 703 344), with a very good chef this is an excellent choice for traditional Sevillan and Andalucian cuisine.
  • Los Mosaicos: in Santiponce (Tel: 955 998 101) traditional Andalucian cuisine.
  • Hotel El Manantial de Roya: Pº de la Roya, Estepa (Tel: 955 915 718), traditional cuisine from the area.
  • Casa Leandra: Avenida Libertad, 19, Mairene del Aljarafe (Tel: 954 188 282) traditional Andalucian cuisine.
  • El Rincón de Bernardo: c/ Silos, 39, Alcalá de Guadaira (Tel: 955 680 691) tapas bar and restaurant offering good traditional Andalucian cuisine.
  • Jarra y Fogones: c/ Sevilla, 96, Montellano (Tel: 955 831 046) offers both international and traditonal Andalucian cuisine.

Hotels and Accommodation: See our Guide to hotels in Seville

Areas and villages of interest in the Province of Sevilla:

  • El Aljarafe: A residential area to the West of Sevilla full of orange groves. It also has a mountain range and salt marshes.

    • Santiponce: ITALICA Roman City: This is one of the oldest Spanish Roman cities founded in 206 B.C. by Escipión El Africano. It was a very important city in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. Trajano and Adriano were born here (the latter became an emperor of Rome). However many of the buildings disappeared during the Moors occupation due to the change in the course of the Guadalquivir river. Roman remains include the amphitheatre and part of the wall. All objects which have been found in the remains are kept in Sevilla's Archeological Museum.
    • Umbrete
    • Ginés
    • Palomares

  • La Campiña: This is an extensive area covering 1/3 of the province with a lot of archeological remains. It is also an agricultural area.

    • Osuna: Iberian walls and Roman settlement. This area became well known in the 16th century thanks to the Duke and Duchess of Girón who built the Santa Maria Collegiate in 1539 (it has paintings by José de Riberain) and the University in 1548
    • Ecija: Tarteso origins dating back to the 8th century. Roman remains. In 1966 it became a Historic and Artisitic Centre. It is also known as the 'frying pan of Spain' given the extremely high temperatures in summer. It has 11 Baroque bell towers. The Baroque Palaces of Conde de Aguilar and Peñafor are also of interest.
    • Los Molares:
    • Utrera: Arabic remains
    • Alcalá de Guadaira: Megaliths.
    • Carmona: Things to see include the remains of Roman settlements and an Arabic fort, an 18th century Renaissance town hall, the Santa María La Mayor 15th century church built upon a former mosque of which the patio still remains, the Alcázar de Arriba - a former palace which is now a National Parador and a Roman cemetery.

  • Estepa: This is an area within Campiña.

    • Estepa: Things to see include walls, an Arabic fortess and a Baroque church with a black and white facade. This village is also famous for its cakes and pastries.
    • Gilena:
    • Aguadulce: A summer holiday resort.

  • La Marisma:

    • Aznarcazar

  • La Sierra Norte National Park: It has cork oak trees, elm trees, willows and vultures and eagles and many interesting plants.

    • Alanís: Roman remains
    • Cazalla de la Sierra: The Morena Mountain Range runs between Cordoba and Sevilla to the North of both provinces and forms a barrier between Extremadura and La Mancha. The most populated area in the province is Cazalla de la Sierra which is a popular weekend retreat for Sevillans.
    • Constantina: This is a very peaceful area with some beautiful scenery located to the Southwest of the province next to the Cazalla mountain range.
    • Guadalcanal
    • El Ronquillo: An area with lakes and reservoirs.
    • La Puebla de los Infantes
    • Las Navas de la Concepción: A hunting and fishing area also good for hiking and bird watching.
    • San Nicolás del Puerto: Remains of a Celtic settlement Iporci, later called Villa Fortunada by the Romans.

  • La Sierra Sur: Some very high mountains (1100 metres). Archeological remains dating back to the Bronze age. Ideal for mountain sports: hiking, horse riding, cycling, fishing, hunting etc...

    • The Peñón de Zaframagón Nature Reserve
    • Martín de la Jara: La Laguna del Gosque Nature Reserve, a safe haven for water birds, also the Castellar Cave.
    • Morón de la Frontera: It has an early Christian Visigothic church.
    • Pedrera: La Cruz mountain range and the Arroyo del Buho (thermal waters).
    • El Coronil: Medieval military architecture
    • Pruna and Algamitas: This is where the highest mountains in the Tablón mountain range can be found: El Terril 1129 metres and el Peñón de Algamitas at 1100 metres.

  • La Vega:

    • Alcalá del Río
    • Alcolea del Río
    • La Algaba
    • Tocina

 

Travelling to Sevilla? The following links may also be useful
Guides provinces bordering with Seville and beautiful places in Spain nearby
Travel guides to Spain Travel guides to Spain
Guide to Alicante Guide to Almeria
Guide to Avila Guide to Barcelona
Guide to Caceres Guide to Castellon
Guide to Cuenca Guide to Girona
Guide to Guipuzcoa Guide to Lerida
Guide to Murcia Guide to Tarragona
Guide to Valencia Guide to Zamora
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