Seville is more than 2000 years old, it is the capital city of Andalusia autonomous region in Spain. If you do not know about Andalusia, then you want to relate tapas and flamenco, fiesta and gypsy! The history of Andalusia is pretty interesting, it was once occupied by the Romans, and later by the Visigoths (nomadic tribes of Germanic peoples). The Moors of North Africa conquered the region in the 8th century and dominated much of the Iberian Peninsula for several hundred years, so expect to see a mixture of Muslim elements instilling in their architecture. These are the top things you should know before you visit Seville.
1. Seville River Cruise
The river cruise is one of the best ways to see Seville from another perspective, a journey along the river Guadalquivir provides a unique insight into the surprising and ancient history of Seville. The Guadalquivir river is a large ancient river that goes through Andalusia and is over 700 km in length and connects the capital of Andalusia, Seville, with the Atlantic Ocean.
Departure point: Torre del Oro Wharf
Duration: approx. 1 hour
2. Palace of San Telmo
This huge building of Palace of San Telmo is painted in distinctive red and dark yellow which runs parallel to the river, as far as Calle de la Rabida. It was built in 1682 to serve as a marine school, it is named after San Telmo, the patron saint of navigators. The old baroque palace is used for regional Government now. Truly stunning architecture.
3. María Luisa Park in Seville
Next door to the Plaza de Espana is the Maria Luisa Park. The large park is located south of Seville’s historic center. It has lots of ceramic-tiles benches, fountains, pools, statue, and monuments. This is a great part to wander around, lots of walking. You can enter the park and go through the Plaza of Espana, about 20 mins walk through the park.
4. Monumento al Cid Campeador (El Cid Statue)
The bronze equestrian is to honor the Spanish Knight El Cid, a Castilian nobleman and military leader in medieval Spain. The Moors called him El Cid, which meant the Lord. El Cid is a famous Spanish national folk hero. The bronze equestrian sculpture rests on a stone platform, located at a traffic intersection on Avenue El Cid. There is another copy of El Cid Statue at Balboa Park in San Diego (USA) which looks exactly the same. El Cid passed away in Valencia.
5. Plaza Don Juan de Austria
A beautiful fountain near the Plaza de Espana & Maria Luisa Park, it is located in the busy junction and roundabout. You can capture the picture from the car or bus, can’t really get close to the fountain due to heavy traffic.
6. Rent a Bike Sevilla
Cycling in Seville city can be fun and less tiring, Seville is quite flat, traffic is also slow so it is quite suitable for cycling. Renting a bike or taking a guided cycle tour is a great way to discover the city and can be quite an adventure.
Bike lanes (above) & Bike Center (below) in Seville
7. Seville horse carriage ride
Horse-drawn carriage tour is popular in Seville, you see it almost everywhere in Seville historical city center. Horse carriage can sit up to six people. It is a fantastic way to see the city on a horse as the speed of the horse is slower compared to the car.
Key landmarks will be pointed out when you pass by. However, please check with the driver if he speaks English and if the horses are in the happy state before you agree for the ride.
8. Chile Pavilion
Chili Pavilion was built in 1929 for the Ibero-America Exposition, a world’s fair that aimed to strengthen the relationship between the countries of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) with the countries of Latin America and the United States. It also helps to promote tourism, create jobs and improve relations with other countries. It is now the School of Applied Arts.
9. Christopher Columbus Monument
In Seville, you will spot several monuments dedicated to Christopher Columbus. What’s the connection between Seville and Columbus?
Some historical background of Christopher Columbus – the Italian explorer who was determined to find a water route west from Europe to Asia, but he never did. Instead, he accidentally stumbled upon the Americas. This guy was buried in Seville, in the world’s most stunning church called Seville Cathedral. He was buried here mainly because Seville was the port from which Christopher Columbus and the Spanish conquistador (professional warriors, using European tactics, firearms, and cavalry/horsemen) set off for the New World, 510 years ago. Christopher Columbus final wish was not back to the Spanish soil anymore, so the interesting part is, his tomb is held up high in the mid-air, not touching the ground of Spanish land. You can see his tomb in the Seville Cathedral.
10. Orange Trees in Seville
When you arrived in the city of Seville, you will notice it is cover with orange trees throughout the city center. The orange trees here are for decoration and the fruits are not suitable for juice or eating because it is bitter. People in Seville have them for the orange smell and beautify the city.
One of the most exciting neighborhood to explore is Santa Cruz with the narrow pedestrian streets and lots of eating and shopping. Of course, there are other important historical sites such as Alcazar of Seville, Seville Cathedral, Casa de Pilatos and many more. One of the highlights in Santa Cruz is to do a walking tour in this neighborhood.
Seville Cathedral is said to be the third-largest church in the world. What made it stands out is the tall minaret but turned Bell Tower now. It was originally built as a minaret between 1184 and 1198 during the Moorish period. It was a mosque turned into a church. It is better to get your ticket in advance that way you can walk straight in with a pre-paid ticket avoiding long queue. The chapels and artworks inside out will leave you speechless. You can either get audio or get an English speaking guide to explain to you about the Cathedral of Seville.
Originally is the minaret of the Aljama mosque but now it is bell tower of the Seville Cathedral – the Giralda means “she who turns”. Do look up and spot a female figure bearing a cross, the weather wane will help to measure wind direction and one of the first weather instrument ever used.
“Royal Alcazars of Seville” is a royal palace in Seville, Spain. It is situated near Seville Cathedral so you can visit together. The Alcazar of Seville is built for Christian King Peter of Castile. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe. (Alcazar means- a Spanish palace or fortress of Moorish origin.)
The Archivo General de Indias is also located near Alcazars of Seville. The architecture is beautiful and you know it is an important building from the outside. The Renaissance building houses many records of historical significance related to the Spanish conquest of South America and trade with America. However, most records are in Spanish. The good thing is there are no fees to enter so just walk in and have a look at the artifacts and paintings, use the bathrooms.
Flamenco is something you can experience in Seville, as it is originated here, in the Andalusia region. The flamenco music and musical instruments were modified and adopted by Christian and Jews, and later by gypsies becoming hybrid music. Seeing an artist move her skirt or flamenco dress during the dance is a real marvel, especially when accompanied by a singer and a live guitar.
Casa de Pilatos is a stunning mansion with one of the largest azulejo collection in the world. You can spend the whole day looking at the details from the floor, tiles and the ceiling.
18. Plaza de España
The Plaza de España is one of the top highlights in Seville. It was built for Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, which was held in the Andalusian capital and located in Maria Luisa Park. Many movies used this Plaza for filming and one of them is Star Wars. I feel like Queen Amidala of Star Wars walking through the semi-circular gallery of the Plaza de Espana. In Seville, you can experience a film-based journey.
Christopher Columbus, colorful azulejo tiles, tapas, horse carriage, flamenco & orange trees are the things that I can relate to when I think of Seville city in Spain. What about you?