Last week we spent a few days exploring Seville before heading towards the hills of Andalucía, near Malaga. We only spent a couple of days in this charming little city, so there was much to see in a very limited amount of time. However, we did manage to cram a lot in and get a good taste of what Seville has to offer.
Catedral de Santa María de la Sede (Seville Cathedral)
Located at the heart of the city, Seville Cathedral is the largest gothic building in the world and is truly an impressive feature. Once inside, you can wander round the various rooms, admiring the architecture, and through the orange garden in the central court yard. €3 will get you an electronic guided tour and detailed history of each room. Don’t miss the chance to climb to the viewing platform at the top of the bell tower. This is a 37 flight climb to the top but the panoramic views over the whole city are worth it. To be honest, it’s a really easy trip up and down as they’ve made it into a spiraling ramp (rather than a staircase). But make sure to wear comfy shoes so you don’t have to go barefoot (as I saw a few people doing). Although my pictures really don’t do it justice, the views over the city are incredible; you can see all the way to the Andalusian hills in the distance. This is, for sure, a must-see in Seville!
The Royal Alcazar
The Royal Alcazar of Seville is just €2 entry for students (cheaper than the child entry)! This exquisite Palace was intricately designed by Muslim kings and the architecture is beautiful. But the main part of this palace, for me, is the 70,000 square metres of elaborate gardens – well worth the 20 minutes of queuing in 32-degree heat! You could really spend hours here (if it wasn’t so hot); wandering through rows of beautifully crafted green spaces. Each design and feature is so particular and perfectly placed. Water features, palm trees and statues line the walkways making it one of the most beautiful parks I’ve seen – along with Maria Luisa (below).
Just be aware that the entrance is just beside the Cathedral but it’s not so obvious. We walked all the way around the exterior of the walled garden (which is within another garden), for about 40 minutes, before finding the queue, nearly exactly where we’d started. Not a bad place to get lost though!
Park de Maria Luisa
The Maria Luisa park seems almost like an extension of the gardens of The Royal Alcazar, and can be found just next to the Palace. This beautifully designed area is the main park in Seville and, like most of the parks I visited here, was amazingly elaborate. A huge stretch of boulevards and ornate gardens, lined with orange trees in the classic Spanish style.
Hidden within one of these gardens, just before the central entrance to the Plaza España (below), is a small lounge bar. These ‘garden bars’ are a great place to relax under the trees and have a coffee – or cocktail – in the heat of the day. This particular one was surprisingly cheap too! We paid around €5 for four drinks. It was so pretty with lanterns hanging from the trees and a lounge area in the beach bar style with sofa-bed seating under grass parasols. If I was staying longer I’d have definitely come back here!
Plaza de Espana
At the very edge of the Maria Luisa Park is this huge semi-circle structure. This impressive building is lined with intricately tiled alcoves representing the various provinces in Spain. A crescent shaped pool lies at the foot of the Plaza – like a moat – except decorated with ornate tiled bridges which lead towards the main Plaza buildings. You can hire rowing boats here too (it was almost too cliche, with couples rowing along the water). The central point is the huge Vicente Traver fountain which, in the breeze, sprays a welcome mist of water throughout the whole Plaza. Photos really don’t do this place justice!
A huge piece of modern sculpture in the middle of the city! I’m not quite sure who came up with the idea to build this thing but I definitely didn’t hate it. This structure is a giant wooden-looking sculpture, towering over the pretty little streets of Seville’s old quarter. The shape of this really reminds me of Singapore’s Gardens By the Bay (without the musical light show to accompany). Although impressive, it just seems so out of place and completely random among the traditional streets of Seville. However, that being said, it definitely adds something modern and exciting to the area. For just €3, you get to go up the elevator and walk around the winding pathways along the top of the structure – overlooking the rooftops of the City. This ticket also gets you a free drink at the top, and a postcard when you leave – so if you needed a drink anyway, it’s not a bad use of €3!
Seville is a fairly small city, so if you felt like it, you could definitely walk to most of the main attractions. However, in the heat of the day (and on a time schedule), the metro is a great alternative. As it’s a small place, there’s only one metro line running through the City, making it virtually impossible to get lost. There’s also a worker at each station who will practically work the ticket machine for you, if you look like a confused tourist. There were also the equivalent of Boris Bikes, which would have been a fun way to get around and see a bit more!
Barrio de Santa Cruz
This beautiful district of traditional architecture and winding alley ways, is a part of the old Jewish Quarter of Seville. I’d previously read about this area and expected it to be a single street of colourful buildings and coffee shops, but it’s much more! The Barrio de Santa Cruz district extends outwards in all directions with brightly painted houses and intricate balconies. Every side street looks like something off the front of a postcard. It really is a beautiful place. The streets here are lined with cafes and eateries making it lively with locals and tourists throughout the day (except around midday when most places close for the afternoon siesta). This is just next to the entrance to the Cathedral too, so a good place to relax after climbing up and down the bell tower.
Andalusia is said to be the birthplace of flamenco. With this in mind, we toyed with the idea of being the ultimate tourists and heading to a show in the evening. I’m glad we didn’t (as I have a limited attention span), however, there are groups of people putting on shows in the main squares throughout the day, so there’s no chance of missing out.
This was my first time visiting Spain – outside of an A level trip to Barcelona, and this charming little city has only made me want to see more. Even if the locals don’t seem to like British tourists very much, which is understandable, let’s face it. What a beautiful little City – well worth a visit!
Let me know what you think in the comment section below!