A day trip to Seville brings with it the promise of diving into a time gone by. The city on the banks of the Guadalquivir river has preserved its Moorish heritage, and still resonates with the sights, sounds and smells of the past.
The best way to explore this medieval city is to head into Barrio Santa Cruz, the former Jewish quarter of Seville (Juderia). Pulsating with activity, Barrio Santa Cruz’s narrow streets are lined with fresh orange trees, engaging street performers, vibrant tapas bars, and quaint shops selling souvenirs and artisan work. But what makes Barrio Santa Cruz the epicenter of Seville’s tourism, is its proximity to major historic landmarks such as the Seville Cathedral and the Alcazar of Seville.
Alcazar of Seville
One of the first places I visited in Seville, the Alcazar of Seville is an extraordinary monument of world renown. Probably the most beautiful example of Mudejar architecture in the Iberian Peninsula, I found myself roaming around the palace complex gobsmacked and oblivious to the passage of time.
From the serene underground rainwater pools to the crowning majesty of the Salon de Embajadores, the Alcazar of Seville is an architecture lover’s delight. A true feast to the eyes in terms of geometric patterns, latticework, symbolic arches and tiles inlaid with inscriptions.
Also known as the Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede, the Seville Cathedral has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is the largest Gothic cathedral in entire Christendom, as well as the third largest church in the world. If you come face-to-face with the Seville Cathedral, you will understand how huge the place is. It occupies an area of more than 23,500 square meters!
One of the most iconic elements of the Seville Cathedral’s exterior facade is the Giralda Tower. During the reign of the Moors in Spain, this bell tower was originally built as a minaret under the Almohad dynasty. It was designed to imitate the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, Morocco. During the Reconquista period, a Renaissance design was added to the top of the bell tower.
As I focused up at the Giralda Tower to take this photo, I couldn’t help but admire the artisan’s hand. The architectural integrity of the latticework on this single slab of stone is just magnificent! The Giralda tower has always served as an important symbol of Seville since medieval times. Even today, the bell tower adorns the emblem of Seville.
The current town hall of Seville was built in 1526 after the wedding of Holy Roman Emperor Carlos V with Isabella of Portugal. It was felt that such a building would better represent the regional importance of Seville.
Also known as Casa Consistorial de Sevilla, the Ayuntamiento’s broad facade is decorated with Plateresque reliefs. If you look closely, you can find famous characters from mythology and history. Did you manage to locate Hercules and Julius Caesar?
Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla
If you walk down a few blocks from Barrio Santa Cruz toward the Guadalquivir river, you will come across Seville’s most famous bullring. During the annual Seville fair, the bullring hosts some of the most well-known and challenging bullfighting festivals. The ring can seat up to 12,000 spectators and has a big fan following amid locals and tourists alike.
Note: Tours are offered of the bullring, with general entry tickets costing € 8.00
Parque de Maria Luisa and Plaza de Espana
A bit of a walk from Barrio Santa Cruz, the Plaza de Espana is a wonderful way to end your day trip to Seville. Located in the Parque de Maria Luisa, the plaza was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition in Seville.
Plaza de Espana is an outstanding commemoration of Regionalism Architecture, which incorporates elements of Renaissance Revival and Neo Mudejar styles of Spanish architecture. The artistic highpoint of Plaza de Espana is the impressive 50,000 square meter plaza surrounded by ornate spires, numerous windows and embellished balconies. The only other plaza from my travels that could rival the Plaza de Espana, is the Grand Place of Brussels.
As the setting sun’s rays dance on the reddish facade, the plaza starts to fill with flamenco street performers, evening revellers, food vendors, and tourists. It’s the perfect opportunity to catch a fairly cheap flamenco show, if you do not have the time (or money!) to book an actual performance.
Everyone comes to Plaza de Espana for the perfect evening in Seville. If you stand in the center of the plaza and cast a look around you, you too would never want to leave the seductive grandeur of Seville.
Popular Day Trips from Seville