Pronounced “Se-vee-ya”, Andalucia’s aristocratic capital is full of history, culture, irresistible charm and incredible passion! The people are in no particular rush; the day starts late, then there’s lunch at 2pm, followed by a siesta, and the evening stroll (Paseo), and finally a late dinner around 9:30pm…Our taxi driver described it best, “we (Sevillanos) enjoy life, and work to live, unlike you Americans who only work work work” (that’s right, no punctuation 😉 )
While you could easily spend a week in Seville; taste their excellent cuisine, witness the emotional (that’s right!) flamenco and folklore, admire the architecture with its complex craftsmanship…we had a mere three days to soak it all up!
This required planning and a list: Top 8 things to do in Seville
We drove into the city from Granada by way of Ronda and checked into our historic and interesting hotel Las Casas De La Juderia. A fairly large property in a very convenient location! Although the hotel had some dated rooms desperately requiring a bit of an update, the hotel lobby was very pretty and the garden nook made for a lovely setting for some morning coffee.
1) Seville Cathedral & La Giralda
The third largest church and THE largest cathedral in the world, the Seville cathedral is a majestic view on a sunny day (lucky for you, Seville has lots of sunny days).
It took us an hour to see the interior of the church, and we learned some interesting facts:
Christopher Columbus is buried at the Seville Cathedral (proven in 2006 after some DNA testing)
- 4 noblemen hold up his tomb, the one that has a pomegranate represents Granada, and the spear represents the last kingdom to be captured under Catholicism
- The Virgin of the Kings crown is made of 22 carat gold and has 11,960 precious stones
- The Giralda (bell tower of the cathedral) and the Courtyard of the Orange Trees are the only remaining parts of the original moorish mosque. It was a bit of a hike but the views from the tower were incredible!
- Right across the exit to the cathedral is a very picturesque alley and a shop for some fresh O.J.
2) Real Alcazar (The Royal Alcazar)
Seville’s exquisite royal palace was originally a Moorish fort. Some interesting facts:
- Derived from the arabic word for castle, al qasr
- Originally a roman settlement (yes, them again!) but later conquered by the Moors that transformed this into a palace/fortress
The Mudejar palace is definitely the crown jewel and includes aspects of both Muslim and Christian elements
- This palace was used by many Spanish kings as well! Juan Carlos I (current king) used it for the reception and wedding dinner of his eldest daughter (Now, that’s a venue!)
- The beautiful gardens are worth taking a stroll, and seem surprisingly calm after the extreme architectural inspiration indoors
3) Hospital De La Caridad
A charity hospital built to care for the aged and infirm, was founded by Miguel De Manara, who allegedly was a notorious (and very wealthy) libertine. Based on legend, he quickly reformed after he saw a vision of his own funeral procession (Hmmm)
- Our humble opinion: beautiful church with great art, but can be skipped if pressed for time
4) La Maestranza
The Seville Bullring (Plaza De Toros) is an elegant structure and the most ancient bullring in Spain!
The Seville bullring is the most historic, but the public attending these fights are considered ruthless – an expert and unforgiving audience in Spain!
- The tour includes a short history, explanation of the bull-fight customs, tour of the artifact rooms and the chapel (don’t be squeamish or make comments about the animals – the tour guides take this art-form very seriously!)
5) Plaza De Espana
A magnificent palace that looks straight out of a fairytale setting and quite frankly, a bit out-of-place… We got here after a nice evening stroll through the city center. Some facts:
- A most symbolic and expensive affair for the Ibero-American exposition World’s fair in 1929
- Today, it mainly consists of government buildings, like the Seville Town Hall
Used as a filming location; Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Star Wars I (The Phantom Menace), Star Wars II (Attack of the Clones), and most recently The Dictator (2012)
- That alone makes it worth a visit!
6) The Flamenco Scene
Now, this is true Seville! Flamenco is based on spanish folklore, and is an amalgam of dance and sounds from the gypsies of Levant, North Africa and India. You can see a flamenco performance in a couple of different ways; Tablao (big razzle-dazzle performance in a proper venue), or a more intimate/impromptu performance at the local bars. Of course, we went for both!
- Tablao El Arenal (close to La Maestranza) was one of the most recommended and personable large-scale performances (110 seat capacity, also offers a ticket including dinner, but we only purchased the performance)
Seville is known for performers that dance with a “little more fire in their bellies”
Yep, we can attest to that! an emotional/ intense performance (relative to the gypsies in Granada) and a must-see!
- La Carboneria is a really cool bar in an old coal storage warehouse in the Santa Cruz neighborhood, and stages Flamenco performances on certain nights. The performance can be a hit or miss, but you can view the performance for free if you buy a drink (we got their Sangria and a house beer drink that was quite good!)
A short video:
7) Eat and Drink the Spanish way
Be prepared for some late meals! This worked out fine for us since we’re not much of an early eater, and also allowed us time for sight-seeing without being rushed for food…
- Start the day with a delightful coffee! cafe con leche or our favorite, cafe Bon-Bon (espresso over dulce de leche/sweet condensed milk)
Classic Andalusian breakfast; mollete – toasted bread roll topped with crushed tomatoes, garlic and olive oil and a side of Jamon (sadly, no pics! we would scarf it down every morning)
- Local lunch around 2pm; tapas, seafood paella with a glass of cold gazpacho, and again, a side of Jamon and patatas bravas AND some sangria 😉
- Dinner with some more tapas, paella and sangria!
- Late night dessert with Churros, Spanish doughnuts dipped in a glass of thick hot chocolate – oh my! Or, a scoop of helado (ice cream) – seville mora was our favorite at this spot by our hotel!
- And if you’re still hungry, stop by one of the late night/early morning cafes to start all over again! 🙂
8) A late night stroll
Take in the sights and walk through the streets one last time before you bid adieu to the lovely and gracious city! The cathedral looks so different at night…
Bonus: Don’t forget to send one of those vintage Seville postcards!
And there you have it! An incredible and perfect end to our journey through Andalusia.
Hope you enjoyed reading!