Seville exudes enchantment over visitors from the moment they set foot on the quaint cobbled streets and stroll through the palm-lined promenades. Elegant buildings, old-fashioned streetlamps and horse-drawn carriages create a magical atmosphere, and the sights are as breathtaking as the atmosphere. Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Christendom with a majestic tower that was once the minaret of a great mosque. Another vestige of the Moorish past, the Alcázar dazzles with its lavish Mudéjar decor and lavish gardens. Discover the charm of this quintessential Andalusian town in the peaceful courtyards and winding alleys of the medieval Barrio Santa Cruz. Take a stroll through the beautiful Parque de María Luisa and sunbathe in Plaza de España, Seville’s most gracious square. Fun-loving tourists will want to watch the racy flamenco performances and take part in the city’s famously flamboyant parties.
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1 Seville Cathedral
Cathedral of Sevilla
Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral in Christendom, unparalleled in its impressive size and abundance of art treasures. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site , this incomparable monument was built between 1402 and 1506 on the site of the city’s main mosque. The Giralda Tower was originally the minaret of the mosque built in the 12th century by Almohad Moorish rulers. This 93 meter high tower of the cathedral is still the emblem of Seville. To get to the cathedral, visitors walk through the Patio de los Naranjos (Patio of Orange Trees), the forecourt of the mosque. The octagonal fountain in the center is a remnant of the Islamic midha, the fountain for religious ablution.
In the cathedral, visitors are immediately impressed by the immense proportions of the nave. The five-aisled interior stretches 117 meters long and 76 meters wide and soars up to 40 meters high. This overwhelming space is the most grandiose Gothic interior in Spain. The Capilla Mayor (Main Chapel) has a magnificent retablo appearance , considered a masterpiece of Gothic carvings. In the center is a silver image of the Virgen de la Sede surrounded by 45 scenes from the life of Christ and the life of the Virgin. In the south transept is a striking monument to Christopher Columbus, befitting its historic status. Behind the Capilla Mayor is the Capilla Real(Royal Chapel). Built between 1551 and 1575, this domed Renaissance chapel contains the royal tombs. The Sacristía Mayor is a beautiful 16th-century room with a large candelabra and a crucifix by Pieter de Kempeneer. Inside the Sacristía Mayor, the treasury displays the precious gem-adorned crown of the Virgen de los Reyes .
For a break from sightseeing after visiting the cathedral, head to Calle de las Sierpes , north of the Plaza Nueva. This narrow pedestrian street is Seville’s main shopping street, lined with shops, cafes and restaurants. For a special treat, stop by the Confiteria la Campana to sample tempting Andalusian treats such as candied figs, oranges and pears.
Address: Seville Cathedral, Plaza del Triunfo, Avenida de la Constitución, Seville
2 Barrio Santa Cruz: Seville’s most charming neighbourhood
Barrio Santa Cruz: Seville’s most charming neighbourhood
Brimming with old-world Sevillian charm, the Barrio de Santa Cruz was the Judería (Jewish Quarter) during the Middle Ages under Moorish rule. Many of the quarter’s churches were originally synagogues. The Barrio Santa Cruz is located between the Cathedral and the Alcazar . This medieval quarter is characterized by its labyrinth of cobbled pedestrian streets (too narrow for cars), whitewashed houses with attractive patios and picturesque shaded squares with outdoor cafes. Many of the quiet courtyards, such as the Plaza Doña Elvira , are planted with fragrant orange trees. The Plaza Santa Cruz features rose beds and a 17th-century wrought-iron cross in the center. At thePlaza Refinadores , visitors will find a statue of Don Juan Tenorio, a famous local literary character.
The Barrio Santa Cruz has two notable museums: the Centro de Interpretación Judería de Sevilla (Calle Ximenez Encisco 22A) which illustrates the history of the city of Sephardim (Spanish Jews) and the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes (8 Plaza de los Venerables), a 17th-century hospital for retired priests that now houses the Fundación Focus Abengoa collection of Spanish paintings and sculpture. Be sure to stroll through the Jardines de Murillo , beautiful gardens full of palm trees, fountains and beautifully tiled benches. For excellent views of the cathedral, head to the Plaza del Patio de Banderas .
3 Royal Alcazar
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site , the Real Alcázar was originally the medieval fortress of Moorish rulers and later of the Christian kings. The palace was built in the 10th century for Moorish rulers. In the 11th century it was ruled by the legendary Moorish ruler and poet al-Mutamid. After the Christian reconquest in the 1960s, Moorish architects created the Mudéjar-like buildings for King Pedro the Cruel. Visitors enter the palace through the Puerta Principal which leads to the Patio de las Doncellas . Built between 1369 and 1379, this elegant courtyard is an example of Islamic architecture with beautiful arches with open arabesque work above 52 marble columns. The oldest of the rooms, theSala de los Embajadores (Hall of the Ambassadors) has a beautiful stalactitic domed ceiling with decorative friezes and inscriptions in Arabic script. Off the Patio del Leon (Patio of the Lion) is the Sala de Audiencias , one of the most lavishly decorated rooms in the palace, with an opulent Artesonado (intricately carved wood) ceiling.
Be sure to save enough time to explore the gardens. This beautifully maintained grounds is filled with verdant palms, sweet orange trees and colorful roses. In the traditional Andalusian style, courtyards, decorative pools and refreshing fountains are the main structures of the landscape. Opposite the Alcazar is the Casa Lonja , which houses the UNESCO-listed Archivo de Indias , an archive of documents from Spain’s colonial years in the New World.
Address: Plaza del Triunfo, Seville
Official site: https://www.alcazarsevilla.org/
4 María Luisa Park in Plaza de España
Maria Luisa Park in Plaza de España
In the Parque de María Luisa, the Plaza de España is one of Seville’s most impressive monuments for its scale and grandeur. The huge 50,000 square meter square is surrounded by the balustraded balconies of a Renaissance Neo-Moorish style building. This semi-circular building curves around and follows the shape of the canal that runs through the square. A monumental fountain is an ornate centerpiece of the square, while the peaceful canal is crossed by four footbridges. Tourists can rent a rowing boat in the afternoon to experience the “Venice of Seville” or opt for an equally romantic horse-drawn carriage ride through the park.
The Parque de María Luisa, with the Plaza de España in the middle, was the site of the Exposiciones Universales in 1929. The park is close to the river and the main entrance is on Avenida de Isabel la Católica. This vast and beautiful green space was created by the Infanta María Luisa Fernanda de Borbón. The grounds are filled with exotic palms, orange trees, elms and Mediterranean pines. Beautiful historic buildings and colourful, tiled benches add to the dreamy atmosphere and the landscape features decorative flower beds, shady avenues, Moorish fountains and ornamental pools. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the park, discovering hidden surprises along the way, such as ponds and pavilions.
5 Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts)
Seville has an exceptional fine arts museum housed in the 17th century Convento de la Merced. This museum is considered the best collection of paintings in Spain after the Prado in Madrid. The collection includes works of art from the Gothic period to the 20th century. The representation of works by 17th-century Spanish painters is especially noteworthy. Visitors will see some of the best paintings by famous Spanish artists, including El Greco, Pacheco, Velázquez and Alonso Cano. The museum has a special focus on masterpieces by Murillo and on works of the Sevillian school from the 17th century. Zurbarán’s religious paintings are also excellent.
Address: Plaza del Museo 9, Seville
6 Santa Semana (Feast of Holy Week)
The celebration of Semana Santa in Seville is one of the most exciting festivals in Spain. Following age-old traditions, the Catholic brotherhoods (cofradías and hermandades) from the different parts of the city take part in elaborate processions. Dressed in the robes of penitents, they carry impressive floats with ornately decorated statues of saints. The main procession is the eve of Good Friday and on Good Friday morning. The ceremonies held in the cathedral during Holy Week are particularly magnificent.
During the rest of the year, visitors can still see the famous icon of the Holy Week procession in the Basilica de la Macarena (Calle Macarena). This church holds the figure of the Virgen de la Macarena , who is displayed on a lavish float during Holy Week. With a tender expression and tears running down her cheeks, this virginal figure evokes an emotional response.
7 Flamenco Dance Museum (Museum van Flamencodans)
Seville is known for its flamenco, a flamboyant art form with roots in gypsy culture. Flamenco includes both dancing and singing, but most importantly it is an expression of the soul. The best flamenco dancers have a technical process and a special gift for channeling the emotions. The Museo del Baile Flamenco celebrates the beauty of flamenco with exhibitions on all aspects of the art: dancing, singing and guitar. This innovative museum features flamenco costumes, creative video displays, and other educational exhibits. The museum also has a Flamenco School and hosts professional Flamenco performances daily from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm throughout the year.
Another place to see authentic flamenco dance is El Palacio Andaluz , a traditional tablao -style (small hall) theater that offers intimate performances. This 19th-century theater is near the Basilica de la Macarena .
Address: Museum of Flamenco Dance, Calle de Manuel Rojas Marcos 3, Seville
8 Real Maestranza Bull Ring and Bullfighting Museum
The Real Maestranza is one of the best bullrings in Spain, seating 14,000 spectators, but also one of the largest. Built in 1761, the Real Maestranza is an emblematic landmark of Seville and its famous bullfighting tradition. The Real Maestranza is designed in Baroque style and has ornate arcaded columns, providing pleasant shade on sunny days. The arena has an oval shape, which is unique among Spanish arenas. Housed in the arena is a museum. The collection displays traditional costumes, photographs and paintings associated with the dramatic art of bullfighting.
Address: Paseo de Colón 12, Seville
Official Site: https://www.realmaestranza.com/index-iden-idhtml.html
9 House of Pilate
The 16th-century Casa de Pilatos is believed to be a replica of Pilate’s house in Jerusalem. Built by Moorish and Christian architects, the house is a variation of Mudéjar style with Gothic and Renaissance details. Typical of Andalusian architecture, the building has a central patio decorated with azulejos (colorful ceramic tiles) and antique sculptures. The Salón Dorado (Gold Room) is a beautiful room with faience decorations and an Artesonado (cassette wood) ceiling. The main staircase and private chapel are also noteworthy. A collection of ancient Roman sculptures can be seen throughout the house.
Address: 1 Plaza de Pilatos, Seville
Official site: https://www.fundacionmedinaceli.org/monumentos/pilatos/
10 Archaeological Museum
Located in the Parque de María Luisa , the Archaeological Museum occupies a Neo-Renaissance pavilion built for the Latin American Expo of 1929. The collection begins with the early Paleolithic period; continues with Phoenician, Greek and Roman antiquities; and ends with Moorish and Mudéjar artifacts from the Middle Ages. On the ground floor are objects discovered at the Itálica archaeological site (nine kilometers away) in the province of Seville. Among the highlights are the gold jewelry and a statue of Diana. Another remarkable piece is the Carambolo Treasurefrom the Tartessian period, which is displayed in a private room on the first floor. This room contains a reproduction of the golden treasure and an altar dedicated to the Phoenician deities.
Address: Plaza de America, Seville
11 Triana neighborhood
This historic district of Seville has its own character and identity. Across the river from Seville’s main tourist attractions, the neighborhood has the ambiance of being a world apart. Similar to the Barrio Santa Cruz , the Barrio de Triana is a maze of narrow cobbled streets and narrow alleys leading to atmospheric plazas. What sets the Barrio de Triana apart is its heritage as a traditional pottery district and the gypsy community. For centuries, the people of this neighborhood have used the clay from the banks of the Guadalquivir River to create authentic Andalusian ceramics.
The ceramic workshops of the Barrio de Triana, mostly located on Calle Callao , Calle Antillano Campos , and Calle Alfareria , are particularly known for their prima azulejosglazed ceramic tiles decorated with colorful geometric patterns – a legacy of Andalusia’s Moorish aesthetic. This quarter’s boutiques also sell beautiful decorative ceramic plates, cups, pitchers, serving items and other objects for the home. After visiting the small shops, tourists will be ready for a meal at one of the riverside restaurants; many have terraces overlooking Seville’s monuments. An interesting fact about the Barrio de Triana: starting this quarter at the San Telmo Bridge , Magellan set out for his journey around the world.
12 Monastery of Santa Paula
This Monasterio de Santa Paula was founded in 1473 by Doña Ana de Santillan for the nuns of Jerónimas. For five centuries, this monastery has been dedicated to divine worship and the study of scriptures. Within the cloisters of the building, the monastery holds an important art collection. Tourists can visit the monastery to discover its artistic heritage. Sometimes the nuns can also be found selling their handmade cakes and treats here.
Address: Calle Santa Paula 11, Seville
13 City Hall (gemeentehuis)
This impressive 15th-century town hall was designed in the Plateresque style by Diego de Riaño. The intricately carved reliefs on the southern facade depict figures from historical tales and mythology as well as emblems of the city’s legendary founders, Hercules and Caesar. The building was renovated in the 19th century with a neoclassical main facade facing Plaza Nueva. A small arch connects the town hall with the adjoining Franciscan monastery. Tourists can make an appointment to visit the interior, which contains several important artistic works, including a painting of the city’s patron saints, Justa and Rufina.
Address: 1 Plaza Nueva, Seville
14 Columbian Library
Christopher Columbus’ son, Hernando Colón, assembled the collection for this library between 1496 and 1539. The Biblioteca Colombina is one of the most important collections of Renaissance-era volumes in Spain, with a special focus on the humanist writings of the Golden Age . Originally, Colón amassed a collection of 15,000 books by buying books during his travels through Europe. Unfortunately, many of the original volumes have been lost. Today the library contains 3,200 volumes, including 1,250 incunabula and 587 manuscripts. One of the most notable items in the collection is the Libro de las Profecías , a biography of Christopher Columbus.
Address: Calle Alemanes, Seville
15 Palace of the Countess of Lebrija
The Palacio Lebrija is a beautiful aristocratic Sevillian mansion. The palace was designed to impress with its grand staircase to the entrance and beautiful Artesonado ceilings. The walls are decorated with Arabic plateresque ornaments and the courtyard is filled with Andalusian plants. This palace also displays archaeological treasures, including ancient mosaics, glasses, vases and sculptures.
Address: 8 Calle Cuna, Seville
Where to Stay in Seville for Sightseeing
The main places to stay in Seville are close to the UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes the Cathedral and the Alcazar. Right next to this is the old Juderia, a maze of charming streets known as Barrio Santa Cruz. Several of the old houses here are now small hotels, while larger hotels abound on the nearby streets of the Alameda neighborhood. Here are some highly-rated hotels in Seville that are close to the top-rated attractions:
- Luxury Hotels : For the old-world grace and elegance of a grand hotel, Hotel Alfonso XIII is Seville’s best bet, near the Alcazar and the cathedral. Gran Melia Colon offers stylish rooms and exceptional service in the fashionable shopping area near the fine arts museum, a 10-minute walk from the cathedral. Hotel Palacio de Villapanes is located on the outskirts of Santa Cruz, near Casa de Pilatos, a 10-minute walk from the cathedral. It has a small rooftop plunge pool.
- Mid-Range Hotels: El Rey Moro Hotel Boutique Sevilla is located in the heart of atmospheric old Santa Cruz, close to the cathedral and Alcazar. It has rooms that surround a pretty courtyard with a fountain. In a nice neighborhood less than 10 minutes from the cathedral, Hotel Becquer has large rooms, some with a balcony and views of the cathedral from the rooftop terrace and pool. NH Sevilla Plaza de Armas also has a rooftop swimming pool and is near the river and the fine arts museum, a 10-minute walk from the cathedral.
- Budget Hotels: Monte Carmelo Hotel is located on a pedestrian street in Triana, a picturesque neighborhood with many restaurants, just across the river from Maria Luisa Park and the historic center. Hotel Goya is located in the center of Santa Cruz, near the cathedral and Alcazar. In the central shopping area close to all historical sites, Hotel America – Sevilla has underground parking for guests.
Tips and Tours: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Seville
- See the View: If you plan to see most of the top attractions in Seville, the City Sightseeing Seville Hop-On Hop-Off Tour is a great value and flexible option. You can get on and off this open-top double-decker bus at any of the 12 stops, including Plaza de España and the Tower of Gold. This ticket also includes an audio commentary, free entry to select museums, and four free walking tours, including a walking tour of Seville Cathedral, and it’s valid for 24 hours to 48 hours, depending on your itinerary.
- Cordoba Day Trip: To add some other evocative Spanish cities to your itinerary, consider the Cordoba City Day Trip from Seville which includes skip-the-line entry to the Cordoba Mosque and optional guided tour of Carmona. This full-day tour explores the beautiful Moorish architecture and cultural attractions of this atmospheric Andalusian city, including the UNESCO-listed La Mezquita, the Jewish Quarter, and the Alcazar Fortress. Also included is an optional walking tour of Carmona, round-trip transport by air-conditioned coach from your hotel, and convenient skip-the-line entry to some of the attractions.
- Granada Day Trip: The Granada Day Trip from Seville including Skip-the-Line Entry to Alhambra Palace and Optional Albaicin Walking Tour takes you to enjoy the beauty of this Andalusian city at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Highlights of this full-day tour include the UNESCO-listed Alhambra Palace, with skip-the-line access to Nasrid Palace, Alcazaba Fortress, Generalife Gardens and Charles V Palace, and an optional walking tour of the Albaicin district. Round-trip transportation, a guide, and hotel pickup and drop-off are all included.