• Leslie

Unmissable Sites In Seville Spain

Updated: Jan 13

the Plaza España in Seville Spain

Here's my guide to must see sites and hidden gems in Seville Spain. Sevilla is just glorious. It's a happy wonderful-to-be-alive kind of sunshiny place, teeming with people, scented orange blossoms, and flamenco music -- pure sensate joy.


Seville is guarded by a colossal Gothic cathedral. It's a seductive mix of Mudéjar palaces, ornate baroque churches, colorful azulejo tiles, and winding cobblestone lanes.


There's a romance to it. I fell in love with Seville, hook, line and sinker. Here's my guide to the unmissable sites in Seville, for your next geographical cure or tour in beautiful Andalucia.



1. Cathedral of Seville

Seville's cathedral is a massive Gothic affair. It's the largest cathedral in the world and a UNESCO site to boot.

In 1402, after vanquishing the Moors in the Reconquista, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella began work in earnest on a Gothic style cathedral. They wanted a showy display of Seville’s wealth, power, and influence. They declared: “we shall have a church of such a kind that those who see it built will think we were mad.”

It might not be "madness" exactly, but you'll feel intimidated and deeply impressed by the scale of the building. There are 15 doors on the cathedral’s four facades and each one features a unique relief or carving. The nave is the longest in the world.


altar of Seville cathedral

The altar is elaborately detailed and finished in gold leaf. Along the sides, there are 80 chapels to explore. You’ll find spires and reliefs depicting biblical events dedicated to saints. There's large mirror reflecting the intricate ceiling, which you'll have to queue up to look into.

The Cathedral houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Many places lay claim to Columbus. But apparently DNA tests have confirmed that a bit of him is in Seville, maybe a shin bone or something.

Practical Information for Visiting Seville Cathedral & The Giralda:


Address: Av. de la Constitución, s/n, 41004 Sevilla

Hours: Sept–June: Mon 11:00-1:00, Tues–Sat 11:00-13:00, Sun 12:30-14:30

July–Aug: Mon 9:30-2:30, Tues-Sat 9:30-4:30, Sun 2:30-6:30 pm

Entrance fees: adults 9 €, seniors & students under 25 4 €, free audio guide

Pro tip: Buy a combo ticket at the Church of the Savior, a few blocks north. See that church and then go to the cathedral. You'll avoid queues that way. Or buy tickets online.

Online tickets

La Giralda bell tower, the symbol of Seville

2. Giralda Bell Tower

La Giralda, or the bell tower, dates from 1184. It is the symbol of Seville and the oldest part of the cathedral complex. It was originally constructed as the minaret of the Almohad Mosque that previously stood here, and was used to call Muslims to prayer. It was modeled after the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh.

From the entrance of the Cathedral, you can access the 100 meter high Giralda in the far right corner. It's an easy climb, thirty-four sloping ramps to reach the top. There are ramps instead of stairs so that horses could be ridden to the top.

views over Seville from La Giralda Bell Tower

At the top, you'll see 24 large bells and have stunning views over Seville. The name Giralda comes from the 4,500 pound bronze weather vane on top of the bell tower. There is also a replica of the figure at the main entrance of the cathedral (shown above). By law, no building in Seville can be taller than the top of the Giralda.

entrance to the sumptuous Pedro's Palace at Seville's Royal Alcazar

3. The Royal Alcazar, Seville's #1 Site

I've written at length about my adoration for the amazing Royal Alcazar in Seville. It's my very favorite spot in Andalucia, even above Granada's incandescent Alhambra.

The Alcázar is one of the world's greatest cultural treasures, a centuries old complex of palaces and fortifications, lovely courtyards, and extensive gardens bursting with orange, purple, and green colors. You cannot help but feel catapulted back in time.

a grotto in the Alcazar Gardens

a ceramic bench that I want for my backyard in the Alcazar Gardens

The crown jewel of the Alcazar is the sumptuous Mudéjar Palace of King Pedro the Cruel, built around the iconic Maiden's Courtyard. The Ambassador’s Hall, or Throne Room, is the big showstopper.


It’s nicknamed the "Half Orange" Room, in honor of its gilded cedar domed ceiling. There's also a Gothic palace, built by Charles V. Its Celebration Room features intricate tile work and endless tapestries.



the gilded cedar dome in Ambassador's Hall

But perhaps the best part of visiting the Royal Alcazar is its amazing gardens. They are a lush, exotic, labyrinthian paradise, encompassing 80% of the Alcázar grounds. The Baths of Dona Maria de Padilla are perhaps the most striking and frequently visited spot in the Alcázar Gardens.


In HBO's Game of Thrones, the gardens became Sunspear, the ancestral home of the Martels in Dorne. Scenes from the show are filmed in the balconies of Pedro's Palace, the Ambassador's Hall, the Charles V Pavilion, and the Maria Padilla Baths.

The Baths of Maria Padilla in the Alcazar Gardens. The baths were a filming location for Game of Thrones.


Practical Information for Visiting The Royal Alcázar:


Address: Patio de Banderas, s/n, 41004 Sevilla

Hours: Oct–Mar: Mon to Sun 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, Apr– Sept: Mon to Sun 9:30 am to 6:00 pm

Entrance fees: 9.50 €, free entrance on Monday from 6:00 -7:00 pm. Apr to Sept and from 4:00-5:00 pm Oct to Mar, audio guide is 5 €

Pro Tips: Buy tickets online, there are two separate queues at the entry. The free entrance time on Monday is extremely crowded. The upper quarters can only be visited with a separate tour that is 4.50 €. If you're interested, once you enter the complex, head to the upstairs desk and reserve a time slot.


the Spanish Pavilion at the Plaza de España


4. Plaza de España

The Plaza de España is one of the famous architectural landmarks in Seville. It stands out in a city already overflowing with beautiful architecture.

It was built for the Ibero-American World Fair of 1929, where Spanish speaking countries enjoyed a year long mutual admiration festival. The park's highlight is the Spanish Pavilion, the sweeping half circle structure with rose gold brick buildings.

Designed in an Art Deco style with some Moorish touches, the Plaza has the expected Spanish flair -- lots of color and lavish embellishment. The tiles show historical scenes and maps from the 49 provinces of Spain arranged in alphabetical order.

There's nothing to actually do here except check out the architecture, the alcoves, and the tiles. The plaza has been featured in the movies Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars Attack of the Clones.

the Almeria alcove in the Spanish Pavilion

me enjoying the Plaza Espana


When you're done admiring the tiles, right across from Plaza Espana is the beautiful Maria Louisa Park. It's decorated with ceramic tiled benches, fountains, statues, and ponds. You can stroll around and enjoy the shade and the bucolic setting.

Maria Louisa Park

Practical Information for Visiting the Plaza de España:


Address: Avenida de Isabel la Católica 41013 Seville

Open: 24 hours

Entry fee: free

Website

the 16th century courtyard of Casa de Pilatos

5. Casa de Pilatos, a Seville Hidden Gem

Do not miss this place! Most tourists do. Casa de Pilatos is a glorious, sumptuous 16th century mansion in Seville's historic district. It's about a 15 minute walk from the cathedral and is a true hidden gem in Seville.

Casa de Pilatos was the product of a union between the Enriquez and Ribera families, and is the permanent residence of the Medinaceli dukes. They bought up land to build a glorious Mudéjar mansion, likely to demonstrate their power and wealth.

the azulejo lined Judge's Rest Room in Casa de Pilatos

me enjoying the azulejo tiles at the Casa de Pilatos

Casa de Pilatos is so beautiful that it's been featured in several Hollywood blockbusters. It has a stunning 16th century courtyard, surrounded by white marble columns and Mudéjar arches. Everywhere, the walls are covered with countless multicolored azulejo tiles.

The monumental transitional staircase of the Casa de Pilatos is called “Sevilla’s first and most magnificent staircase." The second floor features a golden cupola dome in a Mudéjar honeycomb style, reminiscent of rooms in the Nasrid Palace in the Alhambra.

You can tour the second floor with a private guide. If you do, you'll see some fantastic ceilings and a famous painting of a woman with a beard (the original of which is now in the Prado). I thought it was worthwhile for the extra 2 €.

the Venus Grotto in the gardens of the Casa de Pilatos

The Casa's outdoor gardens will make you feel like you've been power beamed to Italy. They are a colorful and tranquil place. Casa de Pilatos is a glorious melange of architecture, a mini-Alcazar. It's well worth a visit and may unexpectedly capture your heart.

Practical Information for Visiting Casa de Pilatos:


Address: Plaza de Pilatos, 1, Seville

Hours: Winter (Nov-March): daily 9:00 am to 6:00 pm., Summer open until 7:00 pm

Entry: entire palace: € 12 (free audioguide), ground floor only: € 10, free admission with the Seville Card



6. Metropol Parasol

No trip to Seville is complete without a visit to the ultra modern Las Setas de la Encarnación ("Incarnación's Mushrooms"). In my Seville itinerary, I recommend starting there, just to orient yourself with great views,

Metropol Parasol was built between 2005-11 by German architect Jürgen Mayer to revitalize the then run down Encarnacion Square. It's called "the Mushrooms" due to its quirky shape. The waffle like design was inspired by the vaults of the Seville Cathedral and the ficus trees in Plaza de Cristo de Burgos. 

Organized in four levels, it consists of six linked parasols. It is the largest wooden structure in the world. The wood used was birch, imported from Finland, because of its rigid quality. It was controversial at first, but now seems fairly beloved.


view from the Metropol Parasol

You'll have great views of Seville on this unique structure. Underground is the Aniquarium, where you can see the ancient Roman and Moorish remains that were discovered by accident during the construction of the Mushrooms.

Practical Information for Visiting the Metropol Parasol:


Address: Plaza de la Encarnacion, 41003 Seville,

Hours: Tues to Sat from 10:00 am to 8:00 and Sun from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

Entry fee: € 3

El Greco, Portrait of his son Jorge Manuel, 1605

7. Museo de Bellas Artes, Seville's Best Museum

The Museo de Bellas Artes, or Museum of Fine Arts, is a smashing museum, quite lovely. It's known, after the Prado, as the "second art gallery in Spain." It's housed in a salmon colored former convent. I actually stumbled across it by accident. If you're an art love, this is a must see site in Seville.


I had intended to go, as I'm a museum rat of the highest order, but not just then. But I seized on the chance to gaze at art and pee (there are no public WCs in Seville). Outside, there is a large statue of the famous painter and Seville artist Bartoleme Murillo. Pick up the English language floor plans, which explain the theme of each room.


Diego Valezquz, Portrait of D. Cristóbal Suárez de Ribera

the first floor courtyard of Seville's Museo de Bellas Artes

The museum has art from the middle ages to the 20th century. But it is most known for its collection of 17th century art from Spain's Golden Age, featuring Spain's top painters Zurbarán, Murillo, El Greco, and Velazquez. You'll see a lot of monks, balding saints, cherubs, and depictions of Christ.

The museum has a goodly collection by Murillo, whose works you can also see at the cathedral. Murillo achieved fame and recognition from his religious portraits. But he also left behind some fascinating work of everyday people and street life. I was lucky enough to see a Murillo exhibition when I was there.


Practical Information for Visiting Seville's Fine Art Museum:


Address: Plaza Museo 9 41001 Seville (15 minute walk from the cathedral)

Hours

Entry fee: 1.50 €

Website

a view of Calle Betis along the river in Triana

8. The Triana Neighborhood


Cross the Puente de Isabel II bridge over the Guadalquivir River and you'll land in the colorful Triana neighborhood. It's a small soulful village within a big city and the old gypsy quarter of Seville. What was once considered the "wrong side" of the river, is now the fun and funky part of town.

It's a neighborhood steeped in romance and myth. It was the home of many of Spain's best flamenco dancers and bullfighters. Once over the bridge, you'll be greeted by the Capilla del Carmen with its bell tower and chapel. The main commercial street in Triana is the pedestrianized Calle San Jacinto where you'll find shops and cafes. I had a nice lunch there.


the Mercado de Triana

If you want to assemble your own lunch or dinner, head to Triana's famous Mercado de Triana, or covered market, located on Capilla del Carmen in the Plaza del Altozano. Stroll the stalls filled with meats and cheeses. Or try a smoothie or fresh squeezed juice.

Then, pop in and purchase some ceramics at Ceramica Triana. You can also visit the adjoining museum explaining the history and production of ceramics. When you're done, take a stroll along the river on Calle Betis.

ceramic store in Triana

a vase and tile I purchased at Ceramica Triana

Practical Information for Visiting Triana:

Address: Mercado de Triana, Plaza del Altozano, 14, 41010 Sevilla

Address: Centro Ceramica, Calle Callao, 16, 41010 Sevilla

Plaza Dona Elvira in Seville's Barrio Santa Cruz

9. Barrio Santa Cruz, Seville's Prettiest Neighborhood

Barrio Santa Cruz is a must see neighborhood in Seville. It was once Seville's old Jewish quarter. Jew were confined here after Ferdinand and Isabella took the city and conquered the Moors in 1248.

Now, it's a popular district within the city -- a mass of tangled cobbled streets with tiny palazzos and tile covered patios. Some streets are so impossibly narrow, they're called "kissing lanes."

There are orange trees everywhere. The neighborhood is meant for aimless wandering. You can get lost and stumble across secret squares, pretty churches, and tapas bars.

Plaza de la Santa Cruz is the heart of the barrio. But I liked Plaza de Dona Elvira best, and stopped for lunch there. Be sure to stroll along the winding and romantic Calle Agua, which runs along the walls of the Alcazar to Plaza Alfaro. In Plaza Alfaro, you'll see a balcony said to have inspired Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

a colorful cute street in Barrio Santa Cruz

a tiny narrow "kissing street" in Barrio Santa Cruz

10. La Alameda Neighborhood, Seville's Hipster Haven

La Alameda is Seville's trendy bohemian district, situated around the Plaza Alameda de Hercules. This not-so-touristy neighborhood of Seville has lively local pubs, parks, boutiques, and chic galleries. There's beauty all around.

La Alameda is also the perfect spot to people watch or enjoy some nightlife. Toward the end of the night, you'll come across dance performers, flamenco, and street entertainers. Grab some tapas and sweet Sevillano sherry, and enjoy the free open air show.

columns of Hercules in Seville's Alameda neighborhood


I wouldn't have known to venture to this neighborhood, but was tipped off by my Devour Seville tapas tour guide. If you're visiting Las Setas, you can come here too.

11. Palace of the Countess Of Lebrija

Dating back to the 16th century, the Palacio de Lebrija is another hidden treasure you shouldn't miss in Seville. It's a beautiful Andalusian home with an eclectic mix of architectural elements. It has some of the most beautiful mosaics and tiles in Spain.


The Countess of Lebrija bought the house in 1901 and lovingly restored it until 1914. The Countess had a special interest in archaeology, and her house reflects that passion.

the dramatic tiled staircase between the first and second floor in the Palacio de Lebrija

Many of the Roman mosaics in the house originate from the nearby ruins of Italica. Before Italica became a protected site, it was looted and even used as a quarry. There are myriad archaeological artifacts in the house, some on display and some hidden in wood cabinets.


Like many Spanish palaces, the house also reflects the Moorish influence throughout southern Spain. It's very colorful and full of bright tiles, geometric patterns, and ornate Mudéjar arches.


Like Casa de Pilatos, if you want to continue your visual feast upstairs, you'll have to pay a little extra and go on a guided tour. You access it via a stunning tiled staircase, sparkling with predominately yellow tiles.


Roman tiles on the floor of the Palacio de Lebrija, this one of Zeus seducing Leda

Practical Information for Visiting the Lebrija Palace:

Address: 8 Calle Cuna

Hours: September to June: Monday to Friday 10:30 am to 17:30 pm; Saturday 10:00 am to 12:00 pm & 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm; Sunday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

July & August: Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 3:00 pm; Saturday 10:00 to 2:00 pm

Entry fee: Ground floor: 5 €, Ground and upper floors: 8 €. Free admission with the Seville Card

Website

I hope you've enjoyed my guide to Seville's must see sites. If you'd like a step by step itinerary for Seville, here's my 3 day itinerary. If you'd like to day trip from Seville, here's my complete guide to the best day trips and weekend getaways from Seville.

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