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Top 5 Things to do in Seville - the Capital of Andalucia, Spain

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About Seville

Sevilla is a fabulous city in the southern region of Andalucia in Spain. This exceptionally beautiful city has a very rich culture and history, its layers could be discovered in-between the streets of different cosy districts. The most notable period of Seville is the one that the city is the most famous, or infamous, for. The Andalucian Capital flourished in 16-18th, thanks to the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492.

Today, the town is a major tourist destination, and home to many historic buildings and monuments. Due to its involvement with the Americas, Seville is noticeably much more popular with tourists from across the Atlantic. A visit to the old city is a must, especially the Plaza de Espana and the Alcazar Palace. The nightlife here is fantastic and the food is delicious. Plan to stay here for at least a few days, you’ll enjoy your time here.

Despite all the historic landmarks, it is the charm of its streets that makes Seville. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Seville History

The first settlers in what is now Seville were the Celts, who founded the city of Hispalis (modern-day Seville) in the 3rd century BCE. The Romans conquered the city in the 2nd century BCE and renamed it Hispalis. The city flourished under Roman rule and was made the capital of the province of Baetica. It was an important commercial centre and a base for the Roman navy. In the 5th century CE, the city was conquered by the Visigoths and renamed Spal. The city was sacked by the Vandals in the 6th century and was conquered by the Arabs in the 8th century. They renamed the city Ishbiliya and made it the capital of Al-Andalus. Seville flourished under Arab rule and became a major cultural and intellectual centre.

The Christians reconquered the city in 1248, turning Seville into a key part of the Crown of Castile. As a result, the city’s economy flourished. In the 14th century, Seville experienced a brief Golden Age, with the construction of several important landmarks, such as the Gothic Cathedral and the current form of the Alcázar Palace.

The Hercules Columns were taken from an actual Roman sanctuary in Seville. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

In 1481, a major outbreak of plague killed thousands of people, but the discovery of the New World in 1492 was the precursor to another prosperous period for the city. In 1503 Seville was chosen as the home for Casa de Contratación, which was the official Spanish trading house responsible for the regulation of colonial trade and emigration from Spain to the Americas. Being the only option to reach or trade with the Americas, resulted in merchants pouring to Seville from all across Europe.

In the 17th century, the city declined in importance as Madrid eclipsed it as the new capital of Spain. However, Seville remained an important cultural center, and it was home to a number of notable writers, artists, and musicians.

Torre del Oro is one of the most visited landmarks in Seville, it was built by the Almohad dynasty in order to control access to Seville via the Guadalquivir river. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

The decline of Seville continued in the 18th century as the result of silting of the Guadalquivir River, which made navigating the river much more difficult. Most of the trade had to be moved to the nearby port by the Atlantic Ocean – Cadiz. Despite that, surprisingly, the Port of Sevilla is still operational and is located, on the left bank of the Guadalquivir River in the city. The port is Andalusia’s largest river port, as well as Spain’s fourth-largest inland port. It handles approximately 10 million tonnes of cargo per year.

Map of Seville

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It is hard to fit the Cathedral of Seville into a single shot. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Guadalquivir River Cruise

Guadalquivir River is one of those natural bodies that has shaped the existence and the development of the Civilizations throughout their existence in the area. It is the longest river in Andalucia and the fifth-longest in the Iberian Peninsula, flowing out from the Sierra Morena mountains in Andalusia. Guadalquivir River passes through the cities of Córdoba and Seville before finally reaching the Atlantic Ocean at the Gulf of Cádiz.

In the beginning, Seville could have only be accessed by Guadalquivir River. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Seville was founded on the banks of Guadalquivir River, and for centuries it was the only way to reach the city from the sea. There is no better way to explore and understand the origins of Seville than a boat tour on the Guadalquivir. During the tour, it is possible to visit some of the most important monuments of Seville, such as the Torre del Oro, the Cathedral, the Giralda, the Reales Atarazanas, and the Plaza de España and the Isla Mágica theme park.

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Royal Alcázar of Seville details

The Alcázar of Seville is a royal palace in Seville but it was built as a fortress in the 11th century, on the site of the former palace of the Moorish ruler Abbad II. The palace was extended and remodelled in the 14th century by Pedro I of Castile, and it was further altered in the 15th century by his son, Henry IV. The palace was used as a royal residence until the early 19th century, when it was converted into a military barracks. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe. The Alcázar was reopened to the public in 1931, and it is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Seville.

I haven’t seen the Royal Alcázar of Seville without long queue lines for tickets. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

The Alcázar is built in the Moorish style, with a mix of Christian and Islamic influences. The exterior of the palace is decorated with intricate patterns of tiles, known as azulejos. The interior of the palace is sumptuously decorated with tapestries, paintings, and carved woodwork. The palace has a number of gardens, including the famous Courtyard of the Lions, which is home to a number of marble lions. The Alcázar of Seville is one of the most beautiful examples of mudéjar architecture, and it is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

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Pro tip: The most economic way to see the beautiful castle is to buy the combi-ticket for Alcazar, Cathedral, and Giralda.

The vast area around the largest cathedral in the world, made me feel like in Vienna. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Seville Cathedral & La Giralda

The Seville Cathedral (Spanish: Catedral de Santa María de la Sede de Sevilla) is the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the world. It is also the largest cathedral in the world, as well as the largest church in the world that is not a basilica. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Seville. The cathedral is also known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See.

The exterior of the cathedral is characterized by its large size and its lavish decoration. The western facade is dominated by a huge carved relief of the Last Judgment. The interior of the cathedral is equally impressive, with a vast nave that is supported by numerous pillars. The nave is decorated with a number of frescoes, and the altar area is home to a number of sculptures, including a statue of the Virgin Mary. The southern side of the cathedral features a large rose window, while a massive tower dominates the north side. The tower is better known as Giralda and together with the Seville Cathedral, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Spain, and is one of the most visited buildings in the world.

At the time, the Giralda 104.1 m / 342 ft was the tallest minaret in the world. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

The Giralda

The Giralda is the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville. It was registered in 1987 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO along with the Alcazar and the General Archive of the Indies. The Giralda is the fitting symbol of the city of Seville, as it is its most recognizable monument. It is the former minaret of the Great Mosque of Seville which was converted into a bell tower after the city’s reconquest by the Christians in 1248. The Giralda was originally built in 1184 in Almohad architectural style. The tower is one of the most important examples of Moorish architecture in Spain. At the time of its construction, it was the tallest minaret in the world with a height of 97.5 m / 320 ft.

The Giralda has a square base with four arches on each side. These arches are decorated with intricate carvings and inscriptions. The Giralda has 35 bells and the tower has three levels: The first level has a series of arches which lead to the second level; The second level has a series of balconies which provide views of the city; The third level has the bells. Visitors can climb to the top of the Giralda for a fee, which is also included in the combi-ticket to the Cathedral of Seville.

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Plaza de España & Parque de María Luisa

Parque de María Luisa is a public park that lies at the heart of Seville, together with a number of important landmarks, including the Royal Palace, the Cathedral of Seville, and the Alcazar. The area was declared Bien de Interés Cultural in 1993. The park was established in 1893 with the new and modern additions to the park were constructed for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition which was held in Seville. That includes the famous Plaza de España, which took almost 15 years to be completed (1914 and 1928). It is a landmark example of the mix of Moorish, Baroque and Renaissance Revival styles in Spanish architecture.

The Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions is a relatively unpopular architectural masterpiece in the corner of Parque de María Luisa. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Plaza de España

The Plaza de España complex is a huge half-circle with buildings continually running around the edge accessible over the moat by numerous bridges representing the four ancient kingdoms of Spain. Inside the plaza, there is a vast park with numerous fountains, gardens, and a monumental fountain at its center. The Plaza de España was featured prominently in the film Lawrence of Arabia, and more recently in Star Wars: Episode II.

Plaza de España is segmented into 50 provinces of Spain. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Today, Plaza de España is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Seville and is one of the most photographed spots in the city. The plaza is located in the heart of the city and is home to a number of important landmarks, including the Royal Palace, the Cathedral of Seville, and the Alcazar. The plaza is also a popular spot for locals and visitors alike to enjoy the city’s many festivals and events.

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Triana

The origins of the district of Triana in Seville date back to the Moorish period of the city’s history. The name Triana is derived from the Arabic word for “three”, and refers to the three main quarters of the district: Santa Cruz, San Marcos and San Lorenzo. The district was home to a large community of Moors, who were forcibly converted to Christianity following the city’s capture by the Christians in 1248.

Calle San Jacinto is the first thing most of people get to see in Triana. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

During the centuries that followed, Triana became an important centre for trade and commerce, as well as a hub for flamenco and bullfighting. The district is also famous for its ceramics, which have been produced here since the 16th century.

In the 20th century, Triana was the scene of some of the most violent clashes between the police and anti-government protesters during the Spanish Civil War. The district was also home to a large number of Republican refugees during the Franco regime.

Today, Triana is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Seville, thanks to its vibrant atmosphere and its many historical and cultural attractions.

Setas de Sevilla reminds of mushrooms and it is exactly how the name of it translates – mushrooms of Seville. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Personal Experience

There is no correct answer to the list of must-visit cultural and architectural landmarks in Seville. One thing I’m sure of is despite what you choose to do during your stay in the city, Seville will surprise you with its richness that could only be found in the Capital of Empires. In no other city in Spain, you’ll feel such a powerful nostalgic aura reminiscent of the greatest times for the country, during the conquest of the New World. These, of course, were catastrophic events for the local peoples of the Americas, but here in the Old Continent, Seville was among those who profited the most. Those events were tragic, but remember that all the centers of Empires are built at the expense of other peoples.

Today, it is important to remember the history of Seville while embracing its magnificence and rich cultural impact. It has seen many Empires rise and fall but the city surpassed them all. Seville is a must-visit for every enthusiast of history or culture. 

Taking a photo at Plaza del Cabildo. Photo by AL [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots
All content and photos by Alis Monte. If you want to collaborate, contact me on info@ctdots.eu Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

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