Seville Travel, Spain

Plaza de Espana, Seville travel, Spain

Plaza de España, one the favourite sights during our Seville travel.  I confess that we couldn’t handle lining up for the Alcazar Palace so we came here instead, this gigantic, colourfully tiled square and its surrounding parks, free to enter and a tranquil, colourful delight.

Why Seville Travel?

The Spanish coast has mutated into a hideous mish-mash of foreign owned skyscrapers, so the heart of España has retreated to inland Andalusia (Andalucia) Spain’s most southerly region, and the largest, liveliest, prettiest, most interesting city in Andalusia is unquestionably the capital, Seville (Sevilla in Spanish).
Want to see the glory of Spain? Check la vida de Sevilla. Moorish? Definitely!

One of the walkways on the bank of the Guadalquivir River, Seville, Spain.

One of three tiered walkways (paseos) along the bank of the Guadalquivir River.

Seville weather

Giralda minaret of Seville Cathedral, Spain

The Moorish Giralda tower seen from the Patio de los Naranjos of Seville Cathedral in April.

Best: March-June, September-November, when temperatures range from pleasant to quite hot. March average temperatures are 8C- 21C (46F-70F), June averages 17C-31C (62F-88F). Note the superb Easter festival of Semana Santa and April’s colourful Feria de Sevilla, (Feria de Abril).
Avoid: July-August, when there is extreme heat (ranging from lows of 20C (68F) to highs of 35C+ (95F+) and no beach, though the nearby Costa de la Luz has the best beaches in Spain! December is the wettest month, though at 95mm that’s not exactly torrential.

Main attractions of Seville travel

Alcazar Palace

Alcazar Palace and Don Quixote, Seville, Spain

A Don Quixote ‘living statue’ ponders the walls of the Alcazar Palace in Seville.

One of Sevilla’s top sights, the ancient and stunning Moorish palace and gorgeous gardens of the Alcazar was originally a fortress for the Muslim governors of Sevilla in 913 AD and has become progressively more luxurious and spectacular since then.

Captured by the Spanish in 1248, Pedro the Cruel added the elaborate Palacio de Don Pedro (Palacio Mudejar) in 1366. Spanish royalty have been based here since then, including King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The ceiling of the Hall of the Ambassadors is particularly outstanding.

The Alcazar gardens are also popular. If the queue is too long or you don’t like crowds then Casa de Pilatos offers a very similar experience on a smaller scale.

Cathedrale de Seville

Alcazar Palace and Don Quixote, Seville, Spain

Seville Cathedral (and taxis), the world’s largest Gothic church.

The hub of the large and lovely old town is the Cathedral (built over a Moorish mosque in the 15thC and full of religious treasures) and attached intricate Giralda tower that used to be the mosque’s minaret. The number one attraction for tourists, however, is the Real Alcazar, a fantastically ornate palace hundreds of years old or the similar but smaller Casa de Pilatos if you can’t be bothered with the Alcazar queues.

Lovely walks around the old Jewish quarter of Santa Cruz, full of tapas bars, picturesque alleys, glimpses of secret gardens and many grand buildings.

Then there are promenades along the River Guadalquivir, buzzing with cafes and social action in the evening, with sights aplenty.

And when you’ve done with walking, hop into a horse cab (discuss the price first) and trot off to more sights in the north, headed by the spectacular Plaza de España.

Alternatively cruise by water bus up the river.

In particular look out for Moorish architecture, bullfighting (most Sunday evenings April – Oct), Flamenco dance/song (originally Andalusian), and Andalusian cuisine.

Plaza de Toros de la Maestranaza

Plaza del Toros Maestranza, Seville, Spain

Maestranza is the most famous bull ring in the world.

This large space is able to seat 13, 000 spectators and has featured in many publications, including the opera Carmen. Fights take place frequently on Sundays and holidays between Easter and October. The Museo de la Maestranza is interesting but not up to Ronda standard.

Seville travel – getting around

Naturally the city’s pricey horse carriages are primarily for romantics or extravagant tourists.
Seville’s historic centre is large enough to need a few days to explore but small enough to do the exploring on foot, though rental bicycles are a good way to get a broader and faster look.
Ask at hotels (the bugcrew had rentals delivered to the hotel at no extra charge).
Alternatively if you have the time, inclination and a credit card the city offers rental bikes from various automated locations with information in English.

Trams run through the upper corner of the old town but the route is not especially useful for regular tourism. There’s also a Metro stop at Puerta de Jerez in the old town which cleverly does not connect with the main Rail Station of Santa Justa. So that’s a long walk or a taxi ride then.

Seville Festivals

Semana Santa Nazareños, Seville, Spain

Nazarenos penitents during Semana Santa, pre-Easter festival.

Festivals
February-April, Holy Week (Semana Santa) hundreds of pointy-head parades through the night.
April Fair (La Feria de Abril), perhaps the city’s best party – traditional dress, parades, dancing and wild parties.

For some precise dates or more information see: European Festivals or Arts Festivals.

Arts/Culture

Casa de Pilatos, Seville, Spain

Casa de Pilatos, one of Seville’s most elaborate mansions open to the public.

Museums/Galleries: Second only to The Prado in Madrid, Seville’s Museo de Bellas Artes is a gorgeous old convent housing one of the best art collections in Spain.

Archivo de Indias displays documents about the conquest of the Americas.
And don’t miss 2 exquisitely crafted buildings and their contents – Casa de Pilatos and Hospital de los Venerables (All in Santa Cruz area).

Flamenco: a traditional Andalusian gypsy art, many flamenco clubs (tablaos), are in Santa Cruz – and not just for tourists. Try to get to Teatro Lope de Vega for big name flamenco stars.

Food
Andalusian cuisine differs from the rest of Spain due to the enduring Arab influence, using spices such as cumin, paprika and saffron, rice, cured hams, sauces made with sherry, and lots of olives and citrus fruit.

Gazpacho, a chilled raw vegetable soup, originated in Andalusia, as did Tapas – varied small dishes to go with drinks (grilled sardines is a favourite), often enough to replace dinner, which is good because the city lacks outstanding restaurants.

The Santa Cruz area has many Tapas bars and atmospheric little restaurants, as has the opposite bank of the river (many outdoors).

Shopping
Seville is not a great shopping city, but the pedestrianized Calle de las Sierpes and around there have good traditional shops, as well as the essential souvenir tat.

Barrio Santa Cruz, Seville, Spain

Barrio Santa Cruz, a delightfully labyrinthine old Jewish quarter in Seville.

Barrio Santa Cruz, Seville, Spain

Local people having a drink and chat along the riverside – the river’s to the right- with Torre de Oro is in the background.

Taking a cool and sociable evening walk is a Spanish custom called dar un paseo – literally take a walk but it actually involves dressing up and socialising en route as well as getting some exercise.

Short Trips out of Seville

Not exactly short, but if you are willing to drive a bit on excellent roads, two or three hours will get you to:

• other famous Andalusian cities such as Cordoba and Granada

• Doñana National Park (wildlife, including flamingoes in winter)

• rock-top Ronda and fortified hilltop towns known as the Pueblos Blancos

Malaga for great tapas but modest sights, Cadiz for terrific old town and beaches, and Jerez (home of Sherry)

Gibraltar

• various Costa de la Luz beach resorts

• sensational windsurfing on the south, Atlantic coast at Tarifa.