Seville is the largest city in southern Spain and has a long and distinguished history in the country. Moorish rulers have resided here and the city has become a world showplace for much of Spain’s culture and it hosted the World’s Fair in 1929. There is much to do here and many places to see, but I have provided my list of the city’s top ten below. A photo album will follow tomorrow.
1. Cathedral – This immense building is the largest Roman Catholic cathedral in the world (St Peter’s in the Vatican, while larger, is technically a basilica) and the largest Medieval Gothic religious structure in the world. Construction began in 1402 and continued for many years. The church, besides many examples of the wealth of this city, also contains the tomb of Christopher Columbus (although this claim is disputed by several other places).
2. Giralda – The Giralda is the bell tower of the cathedral (see above) but it began its life as the minaret of a mosque, dating back to 1184 AD. It was converted to a bell tower in the 16th century after the Moors were driven from Spain. Its height and graceful elegance have made it a symbol of the city.
3. Alcazares Reales – This "royal palace" began as a Moorish fortress and has been modified and added to over the years. It is an excellent example of mudejar architecture, a style which originated in Christian Spain but with Islamic influences. It was here that Columbus met with Ferdinand and Isabella after his second voyage.
4. Maria Luisa Park – This oasis of greenery was built when Seville hosted the 1929 World’s Fair. The Exposition building and its Plaza de Espana were recently featured in one of the Star Wars episodes. There are a number of museums within the park in the Plaza de America area and the pleasant, well-manicured landscaping makes it a great escape from the bustle of the city.
5. Torre del Oro – This watchtower on the Guadaquivir River was used by the Moors to control access to the river. It dates to the early 13th century and was later used as a prison. Now it houses a naval museum.
6. Flamenco at El Arenal – The flamenco is a dance and musical style which originated in Andalusia, the southwestern part of Spain. Elaborate costumes and quick staccato steps are its trademark. Seville is the heart of flamenco and there are numerous venues within the city where visitors can witness this spectacle. Among the best and most popular is El Arenal, located near the city’s bullring.
7. Stroll the Barrio Santa Cruz – This most charming of Seville’s neighborhoods used to be the Jewish Quarter of the city. It has been transformed into a delightful enclave of narrow, cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, small plazas, restaurants and shops. The region borders the Alcazar (see above) and the Cathedral (see above) so is part of the major tourist area of the city.
8. Dine on seafood in the Triana District – This vibrant and trendy neighborhood was once the seediest part of the city. Now this area across the river is alive with restaurants, shops and nightlife.
9. Plaza de Espana – This large and elegant square lies within Parque Maria Luisa (see above) and is the focal point of the park. As mentioned above, it was the locale featured in the Star Wars, the Attack of Clones. Anakin and Padmeyou walked hand in hand through the plaza, which represented the planet of Nabo. The tiles which line the bridges and the walkways are in need of repair, but they certainly must have been impressive at the Spanish-American Exposition of 1929.
10. Museum of Fine Arts – The Museo de Belles Artes was established in 1835 and contains an excellent collection of works by primarily Spanish artists.
Other sights considered:
University of Seville