Attractions in Seville
The Cathedral (Catedral de Sevilla)
Seville’s foremost landmark and eye-catcher is the enormous and magnificent cathedral. This is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and has its roots from the late 1100s, when the Arabs built the city’s main mosque here. You can still see the inner garden, Patios de los Naranjos or the Orange Garden, with a fountain dating from the 400s. The cathedral’s impressive 98 meter high bell tower was actually the mosque’s minaret.
Today’s structure was built in the period 1434-1517. Inside the cathedral is also the last resting place of Christopher Colombus, or Cristóbal Colón, as he is called here.
The cathedral can be visited from 0930 to 1600 Monday to Saturday (1100 to 1700 in winter), and from 1430 to 1800 on Sundays. Entry around 60 kroner.
Address: Plaza del Triunfo
Just south of the cathedral is the entrance to Seville’s royal palace complex, Reales Alcazares. This was built in the 1300s for the Catholic kings Alfonso X and Pedro I, although it looks quite Arabic in design and architecture. Not least because of its many courtyards, columns and fountains. The explanation is the Moorish builders.
Although you could spend hours in the palaces, you should also bring along the beautiful and well-kept gardens, with their maze hedges, orange trees and ornate fountains. Open from 0930 to 1900 Tuesday to Saturday (until 1700 in winter), and from 0930 to 1700 (1330 in winter) on Sundays. Entry about 55 kroner. Address: Plaza del Triunfo
Archivo General de Indias
Also near the cathedral is the Archivo General de Indias, which is the main archive of the Spanish Empire with maps and documents from the colonization of the New World. Here are over 80 million pages in almost nine kilometers of bookshelves, with personal, handwritten reports from Colombus, Pizarro and Cortes.
You will find city maps of the new colonies and the notorious bulletin of the corrupt pope Alexander VI who split the world in two between Spain and Portugal in 1493.
Address: Plaza del Triunfo
Torre del Oro (Gold Tower)
This was originally an Arabian watchtower located on one of the corners of the city walls in the 13th century, overlooking the river. The name derives from the time when the Conquistadors stored gold from America here, and the top of the tower must have been covered with gold tiles. The tower has also been used as a port office, chapel prison and powder store.
Today you can visit Seville’s Maritime Museum here, where you can see ancient maps, documents, antiques and models of boats from Spain’s proud marine history. Entrance fee where children have half price. Open 1000 to 1400, closed Mondays. Address: Paseo de Cristóbal Colón
North of the city center, on the island of Isla de la Cartuja in the Guadalquivir River, is a few of Seville’s top attractions. First and foremost this applies to the large amusement park Isla Magica, which is open from April to October, check the times on the website. The park has the Spanish colonial era as the theme, with pirate shows and Indians in addition to all the carousels and roller coasters. The price for a day pass is around 190 for adults and 135 for children.
The Museo de Bellas Artes
Seville’s Art Museum, located in an ancient monastery, opened as early as 1835. Here you get full introduction to Spanish art, and all the old masters such as Goya, Murillo and Ribera are represented. The entrance fee costs around NOK 15 for non-EU citizens, open every day except Mondays.
Address: Plaza del Museo 9
Maestranza Bullfighting Arena
Although many Scandinavians distance themselves from bullfighting, this popular amusement is deeply ingrained in the culture of Andalucia, and the best bullfights are superstars and A-celebrities in Seville. Bullfighting can be a pretty bloody affair, so an alternative might be to take a guided tour of the arena and museum in the same building. These start every 20 minutes.
Seville’s bullfighting arena is one of the oldest and most prestigious in all of Spain, with seating for around 14,000 spectators. It started in 1761 and is located by the river in El Arenal.
Address: Paseo de Cristóbal Colón
Basilica This church in the Macarena district north of downtown Seville is home to the statue of the Virgin of Hope, or Virgen de la Esperanza Macarena. This is Seville’s foremost weekend and the bullfighter’s protector. Spain and Andalucia are extremely Catholic, and here you get a glimpse of the cult-like celebration that draws tens of thousands of spectators in the holy Easter week, Semana Santa.
Admission is free, but you have to pay a small sum to visit the church’s associated museum. The church is relatively modern and was built in the late 1930s. Just east of the church, the longest remaining part of the old city walls that surround the Muslim Seville starts.
Address: Calle Bècquer 1
Tourist in Seville
Seville’s city center is relatively small and compact, and most of the sights are within walking distance of each other. In Barrio de Santa Cruz, the streets are also so narrow that you never get there by any means other than on foot.
Several companies are competing to show you around Seville from a tour bus that runs a fixed route. Here you have comments in optional language and you can jump off wherever you want and continue on the next bus at your convenience. The prices are around NOK 125 for adults and NOK 50 for children. For example, see Sevillatour or Tour Seville.
If you plan to visit all of Seville’s attractions and sights within a few days, you may want to invest in a Seville Card (Sevilla Card Cultura), which gives you free access to the city’s museums and public transport. One day costs around NOK 250, two days costs NOK 300 and three days NOK 340. The tickets can be purchased at the tourist office at Plaza de San Francisco or Iconos at Avenida de la Constitucion 21.
Day 1 in Seville
There is no need to get up early, for most hotels serve breakfast at least to 1000, and the fewest attractions open before 0930. Set the course for Seville’s centerpiece, the cathedral. The entrance is on the south side, and the entrance fee costs around NOK 60. This is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and has its roots from the late 1100s, when the Arabs built the city’s main mosque here. You can still see the inner garden, Patios de los Naranjos or the Orange Garden, and here is a fountain from the 400s. Today’s structure was built in the period 1434-1517.
Here is also the last resting place of Christopher Colombus, or Cristóbal Colón, as he is called here. His remains are stored in a coffin carried by four figures to symbolize the regions of Aragon, Navarre, Leon and Castilla. The cathedral’s impressive 98-meter-high bell tower is called La Giralda, and was really the mosque’s minaret. If you can climb to the top, you have a magnificent view over Seville and the surrounding areas.
If you want to follow the food habits of the Spaniards, it is now time for coffee, which is often consumed standing at the nearest café. Afterwards, spend a couple of hours getting lost in Seville’s old Jewish Quarter of Santa Cruz, just east of the Cathedral. This is a joyful maze of narrow and crooked cobblestone streets between some of the city’s oldest churches and old white houses with iron gates. And it is often cooler here than in the rest of the city when summer is at its worst.
It is now time for siesta, a practice that is constantly practiced in Andalucia. Between 1400 and 1600 most offices and shops close, and the staff go home and eat today’s main meal, the lunch, with their families. The eateries, on the other hand, are most often open, and many have a regular lunch offering that includes both appetizer, main course, dessert and most often bread and drinks.
The big shopping centers like El Corte Ingles, on the other hand, are open, so you can always get some shopping done even if the rest of the city has taken siesta. You will find these in several places in Seville, and when the siesta is over, the streets north of City Hall are the right place to do more shopping. The Calle Sierpes pedestrian street and the Cuna and Velazquez / Tetuan parallel streets have more than enough shops to keep you busy for a few hours before it is time to retire.
No trip to Seville is complete without attending a real flamenco show, after all, this is Flamenco’s birthplace and stronghold. For example, you can contact Casa Carmen arte Flamenco, which holds an hourly performance every night at 2100. Here you get an introduction to the different styles of flamenco through singing, guitar and dance in the courtyard of a 19th century palace located just north for the bullfighting arena in El Arenal. Reservation is recommended, especially in high season. Prices around 250 kroner.
If you want to try an authentic Andalusian family run restaurant afterwards, Enrique Becerra is recommended in Calle Gamazo 2, just south of Plaza Nueva. Located in two 17th-century buildings with marble columns, the place is renowned for very welcoming and personal service. Here you can try specialties such as ratatouille, gazpacho, beef tail, octopus stuffed and ice cold sangria. The restaurant also has a very well stocked wine cellar with over 11000 bottles. Reservation is recommended. Open for dinner from 2000 until midnight.
If you are still ready for more of Seville’s nightlife, the road is short down to Santa Cruz if you want to meet other tourists, or to Plaza Salvador or Plaza Alfalfa if you would rather get around Seville’s locals. On weekdays, it usually closes at 02 am, on weekends most places stay open at least until 0400.
Day 2 in Seville
Today we start by visiting Seville’s other major attraction, the Royal Palace complex of Reales Alcazares, which is located just south of the cathedral. This was built in the 1300s for the Catholic kings Alfonso X and Pedro I, although it looks quite Arabic in design and architecture, with its many courtyards, columns and fountains. The explanation is the Moorish builders who made Alcazar for the kings. Although you could spend hours in the grand palaces, you should also bring along the beautiful and well-kept gardens, with their maze hedges, orange trees and ornate fountains.
Once out of Alcazar you can turn left, that is to the west, and you will soon reach Seville’s main avenue Avenida de la Constitución. Here, the city’s trams run in shuttle traffic between the Prado de San Sebastian park and Plaza Nueve square just off the Town Hall. There is also a tourist office that can help you with maps and information.
If you continue west, you reach the Guadalquivir River and a nice promenade that stretches between the river and the Paseo de Cristobal Colón thoroughfare. Here are also two of Seville’s landmarks, and you may be able to visit the Maritime Museum in Torre del Oro before closing at 1400. Alternatively, you can walk a few hundred meters north to the city’s magnificent bullfighting arena Maestranza, where you can take a tour both inside at the arena and at the museum. The story sits deep in the walls of this building, though not all Scandinavians applaud what has been going on here every Sunday for centuries.
After lunch, continue north to the Museo de Bella Artes, Seville Art Museum. It is located in an old monastery, and first opened as early as 1835. Here you get full introduction to Spanish art, and all the old masters such as Goya, Murillo and Ribera are represented. Open until 2030 every day except Sunday and Monday.
The Spaniards eat their main meal for lunch, and usually something easier for dinner. If you haven’t tried tapas yet, why not do it at the city’s oldest bar, El Rinconcillo, located just off Santa Catalina Church in Calle Gerona 40. It opened as early as 1670, and doesn’t seem to have changed much since. You still get the bill written with chalk on a blackboard, and it certainly won’t empty your wallet.
We round off the evening at Alameda de Hercules, a 350 meter long park area with countless bars, clubs and cervecerias on both sides. This was once Seville’s scary area of prostitutes and drug addicts, but is now the new trendy nightlife center in the city. If you do not find a place that tempts here, it is good to retire to the hotel first as last.