Bisected by its famous river, the Guadalquivir, the great southern city of Seville is the regional capital of Andalucia. Not only is it Spain’s sunniest city but it has an incredibly romantic past and rich Moorish heritage; its beauty is bound to enchant any visitor. Having been occupied by the Moors for 500 years, it is from here that they ruled during their occupation of Andalucia and their influence is evident in the “Mudejar” architecture of the city. Without a doubt one of Europe’s most alluring cities it is known for its exuberance, perhaps best epitomised during its two passion filled festivals. The Semana Santa (Holy Week) held during the week before Easter and the Feria de Abril held in the two weeks after Easter Sunday; a non-stop party of drink, food and dance which goes on around the clock in over a thousand especially mounted tents. The city is best avoided during the hottest summer months as you’ll end up missing out on many of its magical sights whilst shielding yourself from the unrelenting heat.
The city centre is crammed with sights but an obvious place to start is the stupendous Cathedral of Seville located just off Avenida de la Constitucion. Built in the 15th and 16th century on the site of the Arab Almohad Mosque only the tall minaret dating back to 1198 remains, known as La Giralda this now stands guard over the cathedral, climb up its 40 floors for panoramic views of the city. When exploring the interior and its 44 chapels look out for the tomb where it is claimed the remains of Christopher Columbus were laid to rest. Across the square and set in beautiful gardens is Seville’s Moorish Alcazar castle, a favoured residence of Spanish royalty it was here that Christopher Columbus was welcomed back after his discovery of America. Alongside the Alcazar lies the old neighboured of Santa Cruz, originally a Jewish quarter today it is one of the city’s most charming attractions with many pretty whitewashed houses packed on narrow winding streets and alleys along with several churches and old tapas bars. There are various museums and galleries but one of the more notable is the Museo de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum) housed in a restored convent dating back to 1612 it boasts one of Spain’s most important art collections which includes paintings by El Greco.
When seeking some shade from the midday heat head to Maria Luisa Park near the port and adjacent to Plaza de Espana it is regarded as one of Europe’s prettiest parks.
Finally, in order to take full advantage of Seville’s unrivalled atmosphere adapt to local customs by indulging in a late lunch followed by a long siesta so that you can then tour several tapas bars or visit one of Seville fabulous restaurants followed by some flamenco dancing late into the night!
Within the centre itself Seville is best navigated on foot although there are plenty of other options including a fairly efficient public transport network. Regular bus routes circle the main areas of central Seville and emanate from Plaza Nueva, Plaza de la Encarnacion, La Barqueta and Prado de San Sebastian. It may be worth purchasing a “univiaje” ticket which offers multiple single journeys, alternatively there are various tourist pass offers including a one and three day option. The Seville Cultural Card, which allows free admission to many attractions, can be upgraded to include unlimited public transport. An alternative way to see some of the main sights of the city is a horse drawn carriage, these depart from the main Plazas. Lastly a boat ride down the Guadalquivir can be a relaxing introductory tour; the boats depart from Torre del Oro.