I can’t wait to go back to Seville and spend another week – or even longer! Seville’s compact nature, strategic position on the Guadalqivir river and history dating to the 10th century CE is reflected in the Moorish influences juxtaposed with Castillian, ancient architecture with contemporary throughout this lovely city.
There is so much to explore from the charming narrow backstreets, where even the locals lose their way, to the amazing architecture of the Real Alcázar (dating to the Middle Ages) , the 15th century Cathedral of St. Mary of the See and the ultra-contemporary 21st century Metropol Parasol, just to start. Seville is pedestrian and cyclist friendly – with Sevici bike share system kiosks throughout the city.
The Real Alcázar compound is amazing – a more intimately scaled version of Granada’s Alhambra. (It gets equally crowded, so plan accordingly. Buy your tickets online and arrive when it opens.) It is a preeminent example of Mudéjar architecture in the Iberian Peninsula, and is renowned as one of the most beautiful.
Fun Fact to Know: Alcázar comes from the Arabic al-qaṣr, (castle or palace, اَلْقَصْر), which is derived from the Latin castrum (“castle”). How great is that?
Immediately adjacent to the complex stands Seville’s Cathedral, an enormous structure whose construction lasted over a century (1401-1506 CE). Isabella and Ferdinand, and Christopher Columbus are some of the notables entombed here. The cathedral is only open to the public at certain times, so be sure to check the schedule.
The Giralda is one of the few remaining parts of the great 12th century CE mosque that originally occupied the Cathedral’s site. Once a minaret, it is now a belltower and a landmark visible from most of the central city — quite useful since, as I alluded to above, Seville is a virtual rabbit warren of small streets
Be sure to visit the Hospital de la Caridad, again a short walk away, and its magnificent chapel. Founded in the 17th century, it features artworks by Murillo, Valdés Leal and Roldán. Proceeds from ticket sales support a home for the elderly poor on the site.
My favorite neighborhood is around the architectural marvel Metropol Parasol at La Encarnación Square. It is better known locally as “Las Setas” — Seta is Spanish for mushroom – get it?. The area is a mix of old and new, with many cafés, tapas bars and boutiques along the tree-lined streets and alleys. (More on that in Foodie Friday | Seville – up next.)
Save time to wander around the Plaza de España in Maria Luisa Park. The pavilion was built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929.
I have barely scratched the surface of Seville’s many charms. I hope you will have the chance to experience them yourself. You won’t be disappointed!