Seville City – A Bursting Burg For Over 1000 Of Years!
No trip to Spain will be complete without a stopover in Seville. This is where you go to really experience “Spain.” It is colorful and lively, filled to the brim with fiestas, bullfighting, and flamenco dancing, but – be warned – the temperature can go all the way up in the summer. Scorching heat notwithstanding, there is a lot to see and experience in Sevilla (as it is known in Spanish).
Seville has a storied history stretching back to its founding over 2000 years ago by the Romans. On the other side, Seville has a reputation as a sleepy town, as being a little more old-fashioned than other Spanish cities. The city is not known for the open exuberance of a city like Madrid, but Seville has an atmosphere that is special and worth experiencing. As simple as it sounds, it is true that it is difficult to surpass the experience of walking aimlessly through Seville’s streets.
These avenues are tight and twisting, sometimes turning on a dime, sometimes expanding and then contracting, and then endlessly and surprisingly opening up to new plaza. Some plazas are open and spacious, while others offer little more than a few benches, a fountain and a handful of orange trees providing a welcome canopy beneath the Spanish sun.
Seville’s orange trees are well-known among travellers. They fill the air with the scent of their blossoms in all areas of the town’s center, providing an unexpected sensuous pleasure to everything you do outdoors.
The orange trees of Seville are also well-known for their unique taste. Calling the oranges “tart” doesn’t do them justice- as the taste is closer to lemons than to anything squeezed into a Florida orange juice carton. The locals sweeten their sour fruit by turning them into jam but that shouldn’t stop you from plucking one from a tree and getting a taste for yourself. This is an experience that may not be especially pleasant but which satisfies the curiosity enough as to be a necessary moment during a first trip to this city.
Some may find the cramped and winding streets of Seville overly confusing and frustratingly closed off at first, but it doesn’t take more than an hour or two of wandering before you’ll develop a certain meditative sense of calm- a unique feeling of peace difficult to cultivate when navigating a North American city whose wide-open grid-like rues were designed with the needs of cars.
An ancient city like Seville was designed for people and with no regard to the demands of modern urban life. Overall Seville is a city crafted in a manner that keeps human proportions upfront. At least, most of the Seville has been constructed keeping in mind the needs of the individual or neighborhood.
Must See Seville Attractions
The old Roman city of Italica, just 9 kilometers to the northwest of Seville. Parts of the old ruined city have been excavated and restored, much like Pompeii in Italy, so visitors could get a taste of what life was like in the time of the Roman Empire. It is said that if you want to see what Seville may have looked like in its early days, you go to Italica.
The Alcazares Reales de Sevilla
During their occupation of Spain, the Moors added much to the city of Seville. The Alcazares Reales de Sevilla, or the Alcazar of Seville is a royal palace still used by Spain’s royal family. Originally a Moorish fort, the palace is a striking and rare example of Moorish architecture. As such it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Torre del Oro
Another attraction built by the Moors is the Torre del Oro, or Gold Tower. One of two military watchtowers built to guard Seville’s main waterway, the Torre del Oro is the only one left standing. It served as a prison and then under Spanish rule it became a storehouse for gold and other precious metals brought over from the New World, hence its name.
Cathedral of Seville
After the Reconquista, Seville became Spain’s gateway to the New World. In fact, Christopher Columbus’ tomb can be found in the city at the Cathedral of Seville. The Cathedral itself was built to showcase Seville’s growing wealth as the sole entry point for trade and goods from the Americas. Also known as the Catedral de Santa Maria dela Sede, the Cathedral is the third largest church in the world. Besides Columbus’ tomb, another point worth exploring in the Cathedral is La Giralda. Considered as the city’s most famous symbol, the Cathedral’s bell tower is the minaret from the old Moorish mosque which once stood at the site of the Cathedral.
Plaza de Espana
A more recently-built tourist attraction is the Plaza de Espana. Located at the center of the Parque de Maria Luisa (Maria Luisa Park), the Plaza de Espana was built in 1928 to showcase Spanish products at the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. The place could be a real treat for Star Wars fans; the Plaza de Espana was used as a location for the planet Naboo in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
The Catedral de Santa María de la Sede
The Catedral de Santa María de la Sede, Cathedral of St. Mary of the See, or the Seville Cathedral, is the third-largest cathedral in the world, so its size makes an impact even by today’s standards. This is made all the more impressive compared to the rest of the city’s miniaturized stature. The Cathedral replaced a masque and was expanded in such a manner as to display the city’s wealth and to appear so massive “that those who see it built will think we were mad.”
The Reales Alcázares de Sevilla
The famous Reales Alcázares de Sevilla or the Alcázar of Seville, is a similarly old and expansive building that was originally a Moorish fort that was repurposed into a royal palace. Seville’s local royal family still lives in the Alcazar’s upper levels (making the structure the oldest European palace still in use) while its lower levels and extensive gardens are open to the public for a modest admission fee.
Large garden parks are common in Seville, as its near-tropical climate makes year-round weather conditions optimal for the sort of exotic palms and other flora you’d expect to find in nearby North Africa.
Parque de María Luisa
Parque de María Luisa, the Maria Luisa Park, is the grandest park in Seville and has many monuments, numerous ponds and fountains. Overflowing with all manner of greenery broken up by walkways, pavilions, sun-drenched clearings and the occasional museum, spending the afternoon in the Maria Luisa Park feels like walking through a fairy tale. The park’s northern edge opens up into the sprawling Plaza de España.
The Metropol Parasol
Of more recent construction, the Metropol Parasol is in the old quarter of Seville and was completed in 2011. The Parasol is a strikingly beautiful building whose warping curves stand tall and spread forming the world’s largest wooden structure. The observation decks offer an incredible view of the city yet it’s only when lit up at night that the Parasol really proves modern Seville offers more than old-fashioned charm. On the street level is the Central Market, while an Antiquarium, a museum of antiquities discovered during construction, is located on the underground level. The building is locally known as Las Setas de la Encarnación (Encarnación’s mushrooms).
Seville’s Best Shopping And Dining Places
Spain is renowned for its food and wines and no visit to a Spanish city is complete without indulging in a few quality restaurants. There are quite literally hundreds of restaurants and eateries to be enjoyed in Seville, many of them located within the higher end Seville city centre hotels. Some examples of the best places to try a bite of local cuisine include:
1. La Albahaca. This is one of the most popular fine dining venues in all of Seville and popular with both local gastronomes and visiting tourists who want to try something a bit special. The menu features plenty of authentic Basque dishes and the wine list is excellent. The restaurant does tend to get busy so booking a table in advance is advised.
2. Becerrita. Most people who take a trip to Spain have the intention of sampling the local tapas, and Becerrita is one of the best tapas diners in all of Seville. The wine list is also of the highest quality here too, and again reserving a table is recommended.
3. Poncio. Andalusian cuisine is one of the most popular in Spain, and Seville’s Poncio serves up Andalusian specialties with a little French fusion to them. Poncio is considered one of the most romantic restaurants in Seville and is ideal for visiting couples who might want to enjoy a romantic night out in the Spanish city.
4. Modesto. Another Seville tapas restaurant which serves up more affordable dishes than Ponci, in a more relaxed and communal environment. Popular with both locals and tourists, Modesto offers a great example of quality, value for money tapas.
5. San Marco. Another of Seville’s most popular fusion restaurants, San Marco is situated in a palace dating back to the 1600s and is a beautifully romantic night out. The food on offer includes a blend of Andalusian, French and Italian styles.
Seville’s shopping offers people a little slice of everything, from tourist trinkets to quality department stores, but the city is really famous for its street markets. Some of the best ones to take in on a trip to the city include:
1. Plaza del Cabildo. This Sunday morning market is as much a day out as a shopping trip, thanks to its stalls offering antiques, military memorabilia, coins, stamps and jewelry. Collectors from all over the region attend this market and mingle alongside visiting tourists.
2. Charco de la Pava. This is a flea market which is also held on Sunday mornings, and is another market which acts as both a tourist attraction and a place to pick up bits and bobs.
3. Plaza del Museo. Yet another Sunday morning market which attracts both Seville natives and tourists looking for a few pieces of art to put up on the walls when they get home. Situated by the Museum of Bellas Artes, the paintings and artworks on show are often created by local artists and painters.
4. Plaza del Duque. This market is held on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and is the local Seville equivalent of a hippie market. Shoppers can pick up all manner of hand-crafted and woven items from belts to jewelry, shirts and t-shirts.
5. Calle Tetuan. This market is really a batch of street sellers who can be found most days between Calle Tetuan and Calle Sierpes. They sell leather goods, jewelry and craft items, and since they are not technically there legally, the visitor can occasionally get to see an exciting chase between seller and local police.
Bus Travel in Seville
Buses are the easiest and cheapest way to get around in Seville. If you plan to use them a lot during your stay you can save money by purchasing a bónobus ticket at a newsstand tobacco shop . If you plan to be here for a month it’s a good idea to purchase a monthly pass (abono 30 días). You can find out more about the ticket types and prices below.
- Univiaje, single trip – EUR1,20
- Tarjeta turistica 1 day, unlimited travel for 1 day – EUR4,50
- Tarjeta turistica 3 days, unlimited travel for 3 days – EUR8,50
- Bonobus, 10 trips – EUR6,00
- Bonobus (con transbordo) 10 trips with transfers – EUR7,00
- Abono 30 dias, unlimited travel for 30 days – EUR30,00
The bus network in Seville is made up from circular C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4 buses and north, south, east and west routes. You can catch most city buses in one of four main locations: Puerta de Jerez, Plaza de la Encarnacion, La Barqueta and Prado de San Sebastian.
The bus from the city centre to Seville airport bus costs EUR2.10 single fare, EUR3.70 return or EUR35.75 for a monthly pass. It runs every 30 minutes from the Prado San Sebastia bus station, which is the most central location.
The route from the airport is Seville Airport – Kansas City – Santa Justa Railway Station – Luis de Morales – San Francisco Javier – Carlos V – Prado San Sebastia.
The first bus from the airport is at 05.45 and the last one is at 23:15 Monday to Saturday. On Sunday the first bus is at 06:45 and the last is at 23:45 – running at 30 or 60 minute intervals depending on the time of day.
For more details on all the above telephone: +34 954 720 200 or visit Transportes Urbano de Sevilla SAM – tussam.es
Both stations in Seville are pretty central. Plaza de Armas is about three blocks from the Triana Bridge and Reyes Catolicos, and the Prado de San Sebastian station is close to the university and across the street from the Jardines Murillo.
If you are travelling to Andalucian cities or towns including Algeciras, Almeria, Arcos, Cadiz, Chipiona, Cordoba, La Linea (Gibraltar), Granada, Guadix, Jerez, Marbella, Nerja, Ronda, San Lucar or Tarifa you need to go to the station in Prado de San Sebastian. Telephone: +34 954 417 111
If you are travelling to Aracena, Baeza, Bilbao, Burgos, Caceres, Coruna, Huelva, Jaen, Leon, Madrid, Matalascanas, Merida, Salamaca, San Sebastián, Ubeda or Valencia you need to go to Plaza de Armas. Telephone: +34 954 908 040
You can also catch the bus to the Algarve in Portugal from here. It runs twice daily and goes as far as Lagos and stops at Faro. Fares are Adult Single: EUR16.00 Return: EUR27.20 Child EUR8.00/EUR13.60. For up-to-date prices and timetables visit the website eva-bus.com
Tourist accommodation in and around Seville ranges from large 4 and 5 star brand hotels to cozy family owned and run Bed and Breakfast establishments or “hostals” as they are called in Spain.
Which ever type you choose, prices can vary widely between different suppliers, so it is advisable to use a hotel comparison website.
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