Top things to do in Seville

Every city has something that visitors come to see or do. Sevilla has much for visitors to see and do, from its colorful past to today’s vibrant buzz.  If taking in an authentic flamenco performance is high on your list of top things to do in Seville, then a visit to the Triana area of the city is a must.  In the many little bars in the district, authentic flamenco is performed late at night, almost every night.  Bullfights are still very much a part of the Andalusian culture and are very much a part of the famous Feria de Abil (April Festival) held every year in the El Real de la Feria area.  The city of Seville is a vibrant, colorful and exciting place to visit.  Its top attractions and thrilling things to do make any visit an experience of a lifetime.

Top attractions in Seville

Alcazar of Seville

Alcazar of Seville top things to do

The Alcazar of Seville, designed by Moorish Kings in the Mudejar architectural style, is still used today by Spain’s royal family.

You may not know this, but the Alcazar of Seville was where Maria Antoinette of “Let them eat cake” fame was born. King Phillip V and Elisabeth Farnese were in Seville at the time to oversee the signing of the Treaty of Seville.  It was this treaty that officially ended the Anglo-Spanish war of 1727.

Top Things to do in Seville alcazar

The palace and its surrounding gardens have been much sought after by movie directors. In 2005, the court of the King of Jerusalem in the movie “Kingdom of Heaven,” was shot inside the palace.  And in 1962 scenes in “Lawrence of Arabia” were filmed at the Palace, and some scenes in the fifth season of ‘Game of Thrones’, were filmed at the Alcazar of Seville.

In the beautiful gardens, a figure of Mercury stands near the pond that was designed by Diego de Pesquera in 1576. Many historical points of interest are to be found among the many preserved artefacts at the Alcazar.

Plaza de Espana

The park surrounding the Plaza is enormous so if you would like to save your energy until you arrive at the plaza, a fairytale ride in a horse-drawn carriage through the park will take you right into the centre of this amazing landmark plaza.

Plaza de Espana in seville top attractions

The Plaza de Espana, in the Maria Luisa Park (Parque de Maria Luisa),  with its imposing curved central building overlooking the plaza itself, is a well-known landmark in Seville.  The Plaza Espana, constructed in 1928 in time for the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929 has two tall towers one on the north and one on the south end of the central building.  These towers, are so tall they can be seen all around the city of Seville. Around the plaza is a picturesque moat over which arch four ornate bridges leading directly to the central building. These four bridges were erected to represent the first four kingdoms of old Spain: the kingdoms of Castille, Aragon, Navarre and Leon.

Plaza de espana in seville
The tiled walls of Plaza de Espana

The plaza is very impressive and has been used as a movie location for movies such as Star Wars, and Lawrence of Arabia and The Dictator.

The curved central building of the Plaza has a portico at ground level that runs its entire 50000m length and provides excellent photo opportunities.  Along the front wall of the Plaza, there are forty-eight ornate, tiled alcoves each representing one of Spain’s forty-eight provinces. These alcoves, made with such remarkable artistry, are designed to show the history of each of the provinces and are a joy to see.

Seville Cathedral

The full name of the Seville cathedral is “The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See.” This Roman Catholic cathedral is the third largest cathedral in the world and the seat of the Archbishop of Seville. The Basilica of the National Shrine (Our Lady of Aparecida) and St Peter’s Basilica are both larger cathedrals, but neither is a seat of a bishop. This cathedral is also the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and is one of the twelve treasures of Spain.

Top attraction in seville cathedral

This Cathedral was erected during the 16th century. Until that time Hagia Sophia cathedral had always been the largest in the world. On the northeast portion of the church, is the Archbishop’s Palace.

The Cathedral of Seville is also the burial site of Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Columbus, Fernando III of Castille, Elisabeth of Hohenstaufen, Alfonso X of Castile, Pedro I of Castile.

seville-cathedral-one-of-the-top-attraction-in-seville

The Cathedral contains fifteen doors along its four facades, each of which has a particular reason for being there and are named according to their purpose: The Door of Baptism, The Door of Assumption, the Door of the Nativity and so on. The doors were designed by famous artists such as Lorenzo Mercadante, and Pedro Millan. The artistry is magnificent, and the sculptures within the cathedral are priceless artefacts.

Giralda

Top places to visit in sevilla Giralda

While at the Cathedral a must visit is the Giralda (the bell tower).  This Almohad minaret is one of the last three remaining minarets of the era left in the world.  Completed in 1198 and built from ancient Roman ruins, the Tower rises 104.1 meters into the air and is topped by a gloriously ornate belfry which today is decorated with Christian symbols which replaced the original bronze spheres of the original mosque in the time of Ferdinand and Isabella.

Barrio Santa Cruz

When in Seville a top attraction is the Barrio Santa Cruz, the oldest part of the city.  This medieval neighborhood in Seville contains many of the oldest churches in the region many of which were once synagogues as this is the old Jewish quarter.  Encircling this area are the Jardines de Murillo the Real Alcázar and the Calle Mateos Gago as well as the Calle Santa Maria La Blanca/San José.  When in this area another point of interest is the passageway the leads from the Judería which is the part of the Alcázar known as the Patio de Banderas from where you will have a particularly beautiful view of the cathedral.

Barrio Santa Cruz seville best things to do

This old Jewish Quarter is the most tantalizingly beautiful area of Seville and just the place to enjoy the very essence of Seville as you enjoy an excellent tapas at one of the many pavement cafés.  Other top attractions in the Barrio are the Plaza de Santa Cruz and the Plaza de Los Venerables with its many tapas bars and beautiful terraces.  If you are looking for evidence of the great lover Don Juan, there is a statue of this bounder in the Plaza de Los Refinadores.

María Luisa Park

María Luisa Park in seville

María Luisa park runs along the banks of the Guadalquivir River. The grounds of the park were once a part of the gardens belonging to the Palace of San Telmo. These garden areas were given to the city in 1893. You will find lush green areas with benches where you can take time to enjoy the views, and throughout the Park, there are educational panels providing information on the flora and history of the area. There are several historical monuments to visit while you stroll through the park, and you do not want to miss seeing the Fountain of Lions or the Water Lily Pool while you are there.

Metropol Parasol

Metropol Parasol attractions in sevilla

In the old quarter of the city, in La Encarnación Square is this unusual and unique wooden structure composed of six panels. It was designed by the German architect Jurgen Mayer and completed in 2011.  It is the biggest wooden structure of its kind in the world measuring 490 feet by 230 feet and over 85 feet high. Within the confines of this fascinating, unique structure is an open-air plaza designed to accommodate public events. There is also a fine dining establishment and several terraces that offer spectacular views of the city.

Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza

Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza

This late 18th century Plaza is the oldest bullfighting arena in Spain. If you are really keen to experience a bullfight then during the Feria de Abril, this is the venue for these blood-thirsty traditional events. If you are not in Seville in time for the Festival, then you can just concentrate on the museum where there is much on the history of the Plaza.

Casa de Pilatos

Casa de Pilatos

This palace is where the present Dukes of Medinaceli have lived since the title was created by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in 1479. Construction of the palace was begun by Pedro Enriquez de Quinones and later completed by his son Fadrique Enriquez de Rivera who named the Palace after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1519. The building is magnificent and decorated with beautiful tiles called azulejos. This historical monument has twenty-four busts of various Spanish kings surrounding the courtyard fountain. The staircase is decorated with glorious azuleios tiles.  When you enter don’t forget to look up at the ceiling,  as it is as awe-inspiring as the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.

Torre del Oro

Torre del Oro in seville

Certainly one of the top attractions bound to impress, is the 12 sided watchtower, the Torre del Oro in the Paseo de Cristóbal Colón.  The Tower was built during the time of the Almohad Caliphate and is the only remaining part of what was a chain of defenses controlling access to the city.  The tower is built from mortar, lime and pressed hay which gives it its unique color which gives a golden reflection in the river below it.

General Archive of the Indies

General Archive of the Indies

The Archivo General de Indias, once the merchant’s exchange of Seville, can be found in the Casa Lonja de Mercaderes, in the Av. de la Constitución. There are many extraordinary and valuable historical records from the great days of the Spanish Empire in this exquisite building.  The building itself was begun in 1584 but only finally completed around 1629.  

Top things to do in Seville

If you need to take a break from all the sightseeing in Seville, then there is a choice of really top things to do in this marvel of a city.

Ride a four wheel bike:  

If you feel the need to get off your feet but still wish to take in the beauty of María Luisa Park then why not have some fun and rent a four wheeler.  This is a fun way to explore and escape the heat of the day under the bike’s shading roof.  You will need to practise your turning and braking a couple of times before you set off, but you will have great fun with friends and family as you pedal at your own pace through this delightful space.

Stroll through the local food markets:  

Mercado de Triana

There is nothing quite like a Spanish food market and some of the most favoured are Encarnación, Triana and Calle Feria.  Watching locals buy provisions is an education as the Spanish have this down to a fine art, and you can always take a break and enjoy a cooling beer and tapas at the many bars that are an integral part of any food market in Seville.

Relax in a Roman bath:  

 

Picture source :travel.aarp.org
Picture source :travel.aarp.org

 

There are some really top Arab baths (baños arabes) in Seville where you can really kick back, relax and enjoy the full treatment.  After lounging in a warm bath, moving on into a steam room and ending with a professional massage you can take advantage of the tea room where you can enjoy a truly delicious glass of aromatic tea.  There is nothing quite like the experience of a real hammam.

Nightlife and Flamenco:  

Triana neighborhood known by its traditional flamenco
Triana neighborhood known by its traditional flamenco

With energy to spare you may like to take in a little nightlife in Triana where nightclubs open late and the sounds of flamenco fill the air.  The best night spots are in the picturesque street Calle Betis, but be warned there is no point in getting there too early as nightlife in Seville gets going very late and many of the clubs only open at midnight.

Kayak down the river:  

aerial view of the river Guadalquivir as it passes through Seville with canoes and Barqueta Bridge in the background
aerial view of the river Guadalquivir as it passes through Seville with canoes and Barqueta Bridge in the background

To see the city from a different perspective and have a little exercise into the bargain you can take a kayaking tour on the River Guadalquivir.  Most of these tours run for about 2 hours, but you would be wise to stay out of the midday sun.

Buy sweets made from old Moorish recipes:  

One of the top fun things to do when in the old Jewish quarter is to buy sweets in an entirely unique way.  Buying your sweets this way is fun and not at all what you would expect.  At the Convento Madre de Dios – Domincos, the nuns make the most delicious sweets which they sell to passing sweet-tooths from a hole in the wall.  Just put your money down on the Lazy Susan and give it a twirl and then wait to see what delectable delight is returned to you.

Attend Feria de Abril:  

The top thing to do in Seville over the Easter period is to attend the April Festival.  This celebration in Seville is the most vibrant and colourful of all the festivals in Andalusia.  The festival area is filled with striped marquees (casetas) which hold private parties, but don’t despair if you are not on the list of invitees you can take part in the festivities held in the public tents.  If you like wine by the bucketful, then look for the public tent where the wine is drawn up from a well and then poured into buckets, and if you are overtaken by the amount you have consumed you can take advantage of the beds laid out behind the tent.  

After the ceremonial lighting up of the Festivals fairgrounds, the six nights of partying begin.  If you thought you knew how to party, you have a surprise in store.  Eating, dancing, dressing up, and the hubbub of continued chatter, laughter and the rhythmic clicking of castanets make this a party you will never forget.

The Feria de Abril is in every way the very essence of the Spanish soul.

Map of Top Attraction In Seville

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