It was a sunny, breezy, and cheerful afternoon when I reached Seville: a city in southern Spain which had been in my travel wish-list for a long time. The largest autonomous community of Andalusia and situated on the river Guadalquivir, I was confident that this city had a lot to offer to any traveler. Being the avid traveler that I am, I have always believed that each city has its own vibe and a soul very unique to itself.
The moment I touched down Seville, I experienced something very positive and different, an aura so unique to this fourth largest city of Spain. I was charmed by the simplicity of the city and its lovely and positive vibe which I, in my four nights stay in the city, realized was "very addictive and inviting." I reached my hotel which was a beautiful boutique property close to the city center. The hotel was nicely done up in a typical Sevillan style but what I was awaiting the most was the very idea of exploring Seville. I was all set to explore this 2200 years old city with a population of over 690,000.
The city, which is home to the world-famous Flamenco dance, had a special old world charm combined with a rich historical background and defining culture. The architecture of the buildings was fascinating and its winding medieval lanes lead me to a time long past. Most of these streets had trees loaded with oranges; giving it a very colorful touch. The local people were warm and provided insight on the top places and points of interest in Seville that defined "top pick list."
Top 5 Attractions in Seville
1) Alcazar of Seville - The Royal Palace
Alcazar of Seville is rated as one of the top attractions and most beautiful palaces in Spain. This palace is a classic example of the unique Mudéjar architecture which was developed by the Moorish Muslim Kings. The palace has a wealth of architectural history within its walls and gardens which integrate different types of aesthetic influences. From the Arabic period to late Middle Ages Mudéjar, and, right through to the Renaissance, Baroque and 19th-century periods. The garden of the palace is well maintained and bright and every aspect of the architecture speaks to the Moorish tastes. It was proudly declared as the World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 1987.
2) Cathedral de Seville & Giralda Tower
A must visit in Seville for divine blessings, the Cathedral de Seville or the Cathedral of Saint Mary is a UNESCO site and the third largest church in the world. It took 101 years to construct this large gothic style structure and was completed in the year 1506. It has 15 doors across four sides of the building and has an ornate gilded ceiling 42 meters. With 80 chapels, this cathedral is known in the history for being the final resting place of Christopher Columbus, Fernando II of Castile, Alfonso X of Castile, Pedro I of Castile and Elisabeth of Hohenstaufen among others. The Giralda (Spanish: La Giralda), is the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral and is one of only three remaining structures of this kind in the world. It is 341 feet high.
3) Plaza de España
Built in the year 1929, the Plaza de España is a magnificent half circle built Public Square located at the entrance of the Maria Luisa Park. On the front-side of the building, one can see a 500-meter canal crossed by four bridges which represent the four ancient Spanish Kingdoms: Castille, Aragon, Navarre, and Leon. In the center of the Plaza, there is the Vicente Traver Fountain which is lit up in the evening. All along the wall by the canal are 48 alcoves with benches, representing one for each province of Spain, each with a relevant tableau and map, all designed on colorful azulejos (which are beautifully painted ceramic tiles). I felt this was one place which helped me develop an understanding of all the provinces of Spain.
4) Metropol Parasol
Not very far from the city center, I found a relatively contemporary architecture marvel the Metropol Parasol. The structure was completed in the year 2011 and is known to be the largest wooden structure in the world. With a height of 85 feet and dimension of 490 by 230 feet, this structure attracts eyeballs very easily. The structure consists of six parasols in the form of giant mushrooms structurally inspired by the vaults of the Cathedral of Seville and the ficus trees from the nearby Plaza de Cristo de Burgos. This has four levels The underground level (Level 0) houses the Antiquarium, where a museum displays the Roman and Moorish remains discovered on site.Level 1 which is the street level is the Central Market. The roof of Level 1 is the surface of the open-air public plaza designed for public events. Levels 2 and 3 are the two stages of the panoramic terraces and offer one of the best views of the city center.
5) Maria Luisa Park
This sprawling public park stretches along the Guadalquivir river and spreads across 100 acres. The rearrangements of the garden started in the year 1911. This park houses many monuments, fountains, and ponds. An octagonal base monument surrounding a tree called the Monument to Gustavo Adolfo Becquer is situated on the North of the park. The monument is built on a pedestal and has the bust of the poet.
Another monument the Monument to Miguel de Cervantes is a polygonal space decorated with tiles that depict scenes from the works of Cervantes. Amongst the famous fountains in the Park are the Fountain of Lions (Fuente de los Leones) and the Water-lily Pool (Estanque de los Lotos). All these monuments and fountains together offer a splendor set up amidst the greenery. The park can be explored on foot but then there are fun options available for cycling. I wanted to add an element of fun so I chose the latter one to explore this park.
5 Must Do Activities in Seville
1) Flamenco Dance Show
The world famous Flamenco dance show, which originated from the city, can’t be missed when in Seville. A lot of shows at multiple places in the city are organized by the Flamenco show. A great option is to enjoy it with food and drinks. You must get these shows pre-booked as they always attract large crowds.
2) Horse-drawn carriage ride
These carriages can be hired from major points of interest in the city the majority can be found around the Cathedral. A forty-five-minute ride on the carriage gives you a royal feel and leaves you splendid as it takes you to every important monument and place of interest in Sevilla. A typical horse-drawn carriage comfortably can accommodate about four people.
3) Plaza de Toros de le Real Maestranza
‘Bullfighting’ is what Spain is known for and Plaza de Toros de le Real Maestranza is a 12,000-capacity bullring in Seville which invites all with interest in bullfighting. This place has hosted premiere bullfighting festivals, so when in Seville don't forget to witness a bullfight
4) Football Match at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium
Football runs in the blood of Spanish and Seville is no exception. If there is a match going on in the stadium you must not miss it. I visited it even when there was no match going on to get a feel of the grandeur of the stadium and go deep in my imagination of ‘how would it experience when a match is going on’.
5) Guadalquivir River Cruise
Not the most important activity, this cruise can be enjoyed only on leisure and takes you on the river Guadalquivir. This one hour cruise is a decent time pass.
What to Eat when in Seville?
Good restaurants, cafes, food markets and snacks bars (known as tapas bars) are all easy to find in Seville. Some of the very popular dishes that are a must try in Seville are Torrijas (stale bread soaked in beaten eggs before being deep fried served with sugar syrup, Cola de Toro (bull tail), Solomillo al Whiskey (Whiskey, garlic, and olive oil combined to create one of the best ingredients for grilled pork), Espinacas con Garbanzos( traditional combination of spinach and chickpeas perfect for vegetarians) and Carrillada de Cerdo (Pork cheek is one of Seville’s most traditional stewed meats)
I was surrounded by 3Es all through my stay in Seville; exploration, excitement, and enchantment where I could find a perfect blend of these three words in the true sense. This rich historical and cultural city has so much to offer that it can ‘charm the uncharmed’. This romantic city with an old world charm calls you back to simply explore it even more. I would love to go back to the city again and explore it even more.