Often overshadowed by Madrid and Barcelona, it’s the southern city of Seville that offers the quintessential Spanish experience. Home to stunning Moorish architecture, fiery flamenco performances, mouth-watering tapas and a laid-back Mediterranean vibe, the Andalusian capital is the Spain you see in your dreams.
Here are just 10 of the must-see sights that make Seville one of the best cities in Europe to visit on your next holiday.
1. Real Palace Alcázar
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the best examples of mudéjar architecture in Spain. Mudéjar art and architecture is typical throughout southern Spain and blends Moorish and Christian styles. The Moorish influence of this royal palace is seen in the repetitive geometric patterns created by the multi-coloured tiles and moulded plaster that adorn the building both outside and in, as well as the horseshoe-shaped arches.
From the numerous interior patios, intricately decorated rooms and manicured gardens, this is one of the most beautiful buildings on the Iberian Peninsula and a must-see on any visit to Seville. The opulent gardens captured the hearts of Game of Thrones producers and were used as the Water Gardens of Dorne in the show’s fifth season.
2. Seville Cathedral
A short two-minute walk from the Alcázar, you’ll find the largest Gothic church in the world, the Seville Cathedral. Its austere Gothic architecture is at odds with the light and ornate styling of the neighbouring palace, but that just makes this colossal building all the more striking. Besides the tomb (allegedly) of Christopher Columbus carried on the bronze shoulders of four kings representing the four kingdoms of Spain, one of the highlights of this visit is sure to be a trip up La Giralda. A series of sloping ramps leads you to the top of this 110-metre tower (once the tallest building in the world) for spectacular panoramic views over the city. As the cathedral was built on top of a mosque after the Reconquista, the tower begins as a minaret before an abrupt change to Gothic styling as it juts up towards the heavens, a visual embodiment of the history of conquest and reacquisition that defines Andalusian culture even to this day.
3. Barrio Santa Cruz
Though Seville is famous for its Muslim and Christian influences, a visit to Seville’s Jewish Quarter, located in the vibrant Santa Cruz neighbourhood, is a must. The narrow streets are lined by brightly coloured houses and dotted with quaint flower-filled plazas. This is the perfect place to enjoy a sangria in the sunshine or just explore the local boutiques. The area is also littered with tapas bars that make the perfect place for an evening meal.
4. Tapas, Tapas and More Tapas
Andalusia is the birthplace of tapas, so what better place to sample some of these bite-sized treats than in the capital city of Seville. You can’t take more than a few steps before you run into a tapas bar, and they make the perfect snack while you’re exploring the city.
Have a tapa or two with a glass of sangria on one of the sun-soaked terraces or make it a meal and share a selection of tapas with your travel companions.
5. Sunset at Metropol Parasol
To finish off a day in this enchanting city, head to the famous Metropol Parasol to watch the sunset blanket the Sevillian skyline in a swath of pastel pinks, oranges and yellows. Known by locals as Las Setas de la Encarnación (‘The Mushrooms of Incarnation’s Square”) because of its unmistakeable design, this waffled construction was actually inspired by the vaults of the Cathedral and the native ficus trees in Plaza de Cristo de Burgos. The viewpoint here is one of the most popular places in Seville to watch the sunset.
6. Basilippo Olive Oil Estate
Venture just outside the city to get a dose of fresh country air and local agricultural heritage at the Basilippo Olive Oil Estate. Visit this family-owned and operated business for a tour and tasting of their award-winning extra virgin olive oils.
As a Trafalgar exclusive Be My Guestexperience, you can share a hearty Andalusian meal with the family in their white-washed 18thcentury hacienda and hear first-hand how they are working to keep the olive oil-making tradition of southern Spain alive.
7. Plaza de España
After a day in the countryside, it’s time to explore Seville’s open spaces. Built in 1929 for the Ibero-American exposition, the Plaza de España is a testament to Spanish architecture and industry. A seamless blending of Renaissance and Moorish Revival styles, the gentle curve of the copper-coloured exhibition hall exudes a sense of movement and life that perfectly captures the spirit of Seville.
Snap a selfie on one of the terraces, and then hire a boat for a leisurely row around the plaza’s moat.
8. Maria Luisa Park
Bordering the plaza, spreading to the edge of the canal that slices through the centre of the city, is the Maria Luisa Park. A visual work of art, this park features flower gardens, citrus trees, ponds and fountains that radiate romance and offers a lush green oasis in the centre of the city.
Stroll through the garden by foot or hire a bike for the day to explore this and surrounding sights.
9. Plaza de América
At the south end of the park, the Plaza de América is home to three musuems including the Museum of Art and Popular Custom, a masterpiece of red brick and white and blue tiles that is emblematic of the mudéjaraesthetic. The building is flanked on either side by the Royal Pavilion and the Archaeological Museum.
Also built for the Ibero-American Exposition of ’29, this plaza is speckled by multi-hued rose bushes and is less-touristy than its sister plaza on the other side of the park.
10. Flamenco Show at El Palacio Andaluz
There is no better way to spend an evening in Seville than witnessing the passion, skill and captivating energy of a flamenco show at El Palacio de Andaluz. The ruffled dresses, the polished black shoes, the dramatic lighting and the driving ta ta tatata ta of the dancers is both moving and spellbinding as they tell tales of love and pain using the tapping of their feet, the clapping of their hands, a flick of the wrist and a snap of their fingers. Add the tell-tale melodies of the Spanish guitar, and you’ll be mesmerized from the first beat to the final applause.
See these fabulous sights and more, and discover all the reasons Spain continues to be one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations on one of our hand-crafted Spain Holidays.