Seville, the capital of Andalusia in southern Spain, is a city that truly captures the spirit and essence of Spain. Known for its rich history, culture, and beautiful architecture, but we only had 24 hours before we needed to head to the airport for our flight to Morocco. Come along as I see all that I can on an overnight stop in Seville.
Seville has a rich and diverse history, spanning thousands of years. The city was founded by the Romans in the 1st century CE, and has been ruled by the Visigoths, Moors, and Christians over the centuries. The city played a crucial role in the discovery of the New World, as Christopher Columbus received funding from the Spanish monarchy in Seville for his famous voyage.
The culture of Seville is a blend of different traditions, including Moorish, Jewish, and Christian influences. The city is famous for its flamenco music and dance, which originated in the Andalusian region. Seville is also known for its traditional bullfighting, which takes place in the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza.
Seville is home to many unique events and traditions that attract tourists from all over the world. One of the most famous events is the Semana Santa, or Holy Week, which takes place in the week leading up to Easter. During this week, the city comes alive with processions and ceremonies, featuring elaborate floats, religious statues, and traditional costumes.
Another unique event is the Feria de Abril, or April Fair, which takes place two weeks after Holy Week. The fair is a week-long celebration of local culture, featuring flamenco music and dance, traditional costumes, and plenty of food and drink. The fair takes place in a large fairground, and visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities, from bullfighting to carnival rides. We missed these events but if you are considering visiting Seville during this time, be aware that hotels and events are booked often up to a year in advance, and prices are at their highest.
Seville is home to many beautiful and historic tourist sites, ranging from grand palaces to stunning cathedrals.
One of the most popular sites is the Real Alcázar, a Moorish palace that was built in the 14th century. The palace features beautiful gardens, intricate tilework, and grand halls, and is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Spanish history and architecture. Check out my post on the palace here.
Catedral de Sevilla
The Cathedral of Seville, also known as the Catedral de Santa María de la Sede, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Seville. This stunning cathedral was constructed in the 15th century and is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. The cathedral is home to many significant features and artworks, including the tomb of Christopher Columbus and the Giralda bell tower.
Columbus' tomb is located in the north transept of the cathedral and is a stunning masterpiece of funerary art. The tomb was designed by Arturo Mélida and features four figures representing the kingdoms of Castile, Leon, Aragon, and Navarra. Visitors to the cathedral can pay their respects to Columbus and learn about his contributions to the history of Seville and Spain.
Another significant feature of the Cathedral of Seville is the Giralda bell tower. The tower was originally built as a minaret for a mosque that stood on the site before the cathedral was constructed. Today, the tower stands as a symbol of Seville and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city. Visitors can climb to the top of the tower and enjoy stunning views of Seville and the surrounding area.
To plan a visit to the Cathedral of Seville, tourists can purchase tickets in advance from the official website. The cathedral is open daily, with different hours of operation depending on the season. Visitors can take a guided tour of the cathedral to learn more about its history and significance.
Torre del Oro
The Torre del Oro (Gold Tower) is a military watchtower located on the banks of the Guadalquivir River in Seville. The tower dates back to the 13th century and was built by the Almohad Caliphate to control access to the river. Over the years, the tower has served many different purposes, including as a prison and as a museum. Today, the tower is open to visitors.
The tower is named after the golden glow it once emitted, which was due to the golden tiles that once covered its exterior. Visitors can learn about the history of the tower and the role it played in Seville's past by exploring the exhibits and displays located within.
Visitors can also climb to the top of the Torre del Oro and enjoy stunning views of Seville and the Guadalquivir River. From the top of the tower, visitors can see many of Seville's other iconic landmarks, including the Cathedral of Seville and the Giralda bell tower.
Plaza de España
This grand plaza was built for the 1929 World's Fair. It is a stunning example of Neo-Mudéjar architecture and has become a gathering place for locals and visitors.
The complex is built around a central plaza, which is surrounded by a moat and features a stunning fountain in the center. The Plaza de España is also home to many stunning tiled alcoves, each one representing a different province in Spain.
Today, the Plaza de España is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Visitors can take a stroll around the plaza and enjoy the stunning architecture and beautiful gardens. The plaza is also home to many shops and restaurants, making it the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat or to do a bit of shopping. Visitors can also rent a rowboat and take a leisurely ride around the moat, enjoying the stunning views of the plaza from the water.
Plaza de Toros
The Plaza de Toros is also known as the Maestranza Bullring. This stunning building was constructed in the 18th century and has since become a central location for bullfighting in Spain. Bullfighting has been an integral part of the culture of the region for centuries, and the Plaza de Toros is a testament to the city's enduring love for this controversial sport. We were not at all interested in seeing a bullfight but were intrigued to learn more about this brutal sport in an attempt at cultural understanding.
The Plaza de Toros is one of the oldest and most important bullfighting arenas in Spain. It has a seating capacity of 14,000 people and has hosted some of the most famous bullfights in the world. The building itself is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, with intricate details and stunning views of the city. Visitors can take a guided tour of the bullring and learn about the history of bullfighting in Seville, as well as the significance of the Maestranza Bullring.
Visitors who are interested in attending a bullfight can purchase tickets in advance from the official website. The bullfighting season in Seville runs from April to September, with most fights taking place on Sundays. Visitors who are uncomfortable with the idea of bullfighting will want to skip this activity.
How to Get Around Seville
Seville is a compact city that is easy to explore on foot. However, the city also has an efficient public transport system, including buses and trams. Visitors can purchase a rechargeable transport card, known as a "Tarjeta Multi," which can be used on all public transport.
For budget travellers, Bed & Breakfast Naranjo is a great option for accommodations. The bed and breakfast is located in the heart of the city, just a short walk from many of the major tourist sites. The rooms are clean and comfortable, and the staff is friendly and helpful. The bed and breakfast also offers a traditional Spanish breakfast, featuring local specialties like churros and tortilla.
Food and Drink Specialties
Seville is known for its delicious and varied cuisine, which features a blend of Spanish and Moorish influences. One of the must-try specialties is tapas, small plates of food that are perfect for sharing with friends. Some popular tapas dishes in Seville include jamón ibérico, grilled shrimp, and tortilla española which is a kind of potato omelet.
Another specialty is the local wine, sherry. Visitors can take a tour of one of the many sherry bodegas in the city, such as Bodegas Tradición or Bodegas Lustau, and sample some of the different varieties. With our lack of time in the city, we sampled a local sherry with our dinner.
Seville is a fantastic city for shopping, with a wide range of boutiques, markets and shops to choose from. One of the best places to shop in Seville is the Triana neighbourhood, which is home to many small shops and boutiques selling locally made handicrafts, ceramics and traditional Spanish fashion. Another great shopping spot is the Plaza Nueva, located in the heart of Seville, which is home to many high-end fashion boutiques and designer stores.
When it comes to local specialties in Seville, there are a few things that should not be missed. One of the most famous is Seville's famous orange trees, which are found all over the city. These oranges are typically too bitter to eat, but are used to make Seville's famous orange marmalade.
For those looking to bring back a souvenir or two, Seville is famous for its traditional Spanish fans, which come in a range of styles and sizes. Other popular souvenirs include ceramic tiles, traditional Spanish shawls (mantones) and leather goods, including shoes and bags. The best place to find these souvenirs is in the many small shops and boutiques in the Triana neighbourhood, where visitors can browse at their leisure and find unique, handmade items to take home.
For budget travelers, there are many great restaurants in Seville that offer delicious food at affordable prices. Some recommended options include:
El Rinconcillo - a historic tavern that has been serving food since 1670. Try the salmorejo, a chilled tomato soup.
Eslava - a popular tapas bar that offers creative takes on traditional dishes, such as the carrillada ibérica, slow-cooked pork cheeks.
Bar Alfalfa - a laid-back bar that offers a range of vegetarian and vegan options, as well as meat and seafood dishes.
Budget Saving Tips
While visiting Seville, walk as much as possible and consider purchasing a Seville City Card, which offers discounts on admission to many major tourist sites and free use of public transport.
Another tip is to visit the major sites early in the morning or later in the afternoon, when crowds are smaller and admission fees may be lower.
Finally, consider taking a free walking tour of the city, which can be a great way to learn about the history and culture of Seville, while also getting some exercise and fresh air.
Seville is a beautiful and vibrant city that offers a rich history, culture, and cuisine, making it the perfect destination for budget travellers. With its unique events, stunning tourist sites, and delicious food and drink, Seville is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits, even if you only have a day!
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