Seville is the capital and the largest city of Andalusia, the Spanish region located in the south of the Iberian peninsula. I had the opportunity to discover Seville while working on a cruise ship which used to dock in Cadiz, a city and port in southwestern Spain, 1 hour and a half drive from Seville. The city of Cadiz is beautiful, and I’ll write about it in one of my next articles, but this one I’ve decided to dedicate to the city that took my breath away the moment I saw it – Seville.
The city of Seville is the capital of Andalusia, has over 300 sunny days a year, and boasts many touristic attractions and sites of interest. Seville Cathedral is a World Heritage site and one of the largest cathedrals in the world. Along with the emblematic La Giralda bell-tower standing next to it, makes an inevitable part of every Seville postcard.
But, what makes Seville so special is not the architecture of its remarkable buildings, museums, and parks, or the beauty of its sites. It’s the energy of the ordinary people wandering around the streets of the city, the burning passion of the flamenco dancers, and the vibe you feel at every single step in this stunning place.
Once you find yourself in Seville, there are some must-do’s you have to go for: see a flamenco show (there are many flamenco shows taking place in the street as well), enjoy a Spanish tapas in one of the delightful restaurants in the old town, or walk along the banks of Guadalquivir river while having a glass (two, or more) of typical Spanish drink – the famous Sangria.
Nevertheless, the architectural marvels of Seville are not to be left out. While in Seville, you should definitely go visit some of the landmarks of the city. In this article, I’ll share with you my impressions and write about three attractions of the city which made me fall in love with it at the very first sight!
1. REAL ALCÁZAR DE SEVILLA – THE ROYAL PALACE
Whether you are history lover, the Game of Thrones fan, or simply an aesthete sensitive to the concepts of art and beauty, you will be amazed by the fascinating complexe of the Royal Alcázar de Sevilla – The Palace of the Kings, located in the very heart the city.
Once you step your foot into this impressive palace full of gardens, halls, patios, palaces, and fortresses, you’ll be taken back to the past and scenes from popular movies and series whose filmings took place at this palace.
THE ROYAL ALCAZAR ARCHITECTURE – A MIX OF DIFFERENT ERAS
The Royal Palace complex comprises several buildings from different eras, which makes its architecture diverse and unique. It was built on the site of the residential fortress (alcazar) of the Abbadid Arab Muslim dynasty who ruled in this part of Andalusia from the 8th to 11th centuries. Even after the Christians conquest of Seville in the 13th century, the palace kept its principal political role and served as a Royal Residence.
In the middle of the 14th century, the complex had been refurbished and the palace was built for the Christian king Peter of Castile, featuring Mudéjar art as architectural style.
Mudéjar art refers to a type of decoration and ornamentation developed by Muslims who ruled in Andalusia during the Middle Ages and used by Iberian Christian kingdoms which applied those decorative motifs to Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance architectural styles.
That’s why the ensemble of palaces nowadays looks as if was a time machine transporting you back to the past, a mix of Arab and European influences.
Many important historical events took place in the palace, but also those less known, like Christopher Columbus’s reception in the Hearing Room of the Royal palace after his second trip to America.
An interesting fact to know is that the Royal Alcázar of Seville is the oldest active palace in Europe still in use. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, along with the Seville Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies, also located in Seville.
THE BREATHTAKING GARDENS OF ROYAL ALCAZAR – LOOK FAMILIAR?
Strolling through the spectacular gardens of the palace brings you back to the scenes of the popular movies and series such as Lawrence of Arabia, Kingdom of Heaven, and the Game of Thrones whose filmings took place right here in the palace.
The directors of Game of Thrones chose the Royal Alcázar as a scene for the Kingdom of Dorne in the fifth season of the series, after which the popularity of the palace and visits to it significantly increased. If you are a Game of Thrones addict like I am, this is the place to be! The feeling you’ll get while roaming the rooms of House Martell where some crucial scenes took place – simply cannot be described by words!
Once you discover the gardens of the palace, along with its fountains, pavilions, green vegetation, palm and orange trees, and living legends and myths at its every corner, you’ll realize why world-famous directors couldn’t resist the seductive power of this impressive place. Neither could I.
If you are interested in visiting the Royal Palace, I strongly advise you to book your ticket online as the queue for the entrance can be very long. All the information regarding the working hours and ticket admission you can get on the Royal Alcázar official website: https://www.alcazarsevilla.org/
2. PLAZA DE ESPANA – THE IMPOSING SPANISH SQUARE
The Plaza de España (“Spanish Square”) is located in Maria Luisa Park, only 15 minutes walking distance from the Old Town center where the Royal Alcazar and the Seville Cathedral are located.
It is an impressive 50.000 m2 square designed by the Seville architect Aníbal González for the purpose of the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition which took place in Seville. It has a semi-elliptical shape which symbolizes the embrace of Spain to its old American territories, and along with the main building of the square there is a 515 meters long canal – you can either take a boat ride or simply walk over the bridges and make some memorable photos!
The Plaza de España is a combination of Art Deco, Moorish and Renaissance Revival styles with Baroque elements, which makes it unique and incredibly appealing to the eye of every spectator. There are a lot of symbols engraved in the square complex as well, so if you like to explore history – you’ll have a truly enjoyable experience.
The square has also been used as a filming location for the movie Lawrence of Arabia and the Episode II of “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones”.
3. LAS SETAS DE SEVILLA – DIFFERENT, BUT UNIQUE
The third-place I wanted to point out is located in the old quarter of Seville, at the square “Plaza de la Encarnación”. Las Setas de Sevilla, also known as the Mushrooms of the Incarnation, is the largest wooden structure in the world, in the shape of the mushroom.
When I first visited it, my thought was: “Something is wrong here! This structure doesn’t match the rest of the city”.
And it’s entirely true! According to my opinion, it doesn’t match the historical Seville, but what I liked about it – it’s the innovation, the audacity, and the contemporaneity of the structure.
The building itself is made up of several areas, each of them with a different purpose, but what I liked the most is the Mirador – the viewpoint from where you can admire the entire Seville.
If you want to know more information on Las Setas working hours and entrance tickets, you can check out the museum’s official website: https://setasdesevilla.com/
UNTIL NEXT TIME, SEVILLE!
As a final word, I’d like to mention that Seville is not a type of city that you can visit in a day. Once you start exploring Seville, it embraces you, and you constantly feel like you want more of it. I don’t think it’s due to its beauty – I’d rather say it’s because of the vibes you get and the spirit of the city itself. I’ll go back there for sure one day, and I intend to stay for a much longer time.