Last month I got to spend three amazing days in Seville. It was, by far, one of the most relaxed, elegant and beautiful cities I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. It has vibrancy with the merging of cultures; imposing Catholic Cathedrals, Islamic Murals, South American Redwoods, a Moorish twist to the Tapas and Spanish horses everywhere.
My days were spent walking the city taking in the beautiful architecture and soaking up the amazing atmosphere. One thing that you cannot see from the pictures is the smell of the place, the streets are lined with orange trees and the smell is divine. I cannot give an adequate description of the aroma, it is something that has to be experienced; a fresh citrus sweetness with a hint of the heat, and sand, and spice.
I’m going to tell you all about the places I went to see and what I did, but first, as tips about Seville:
- Don’t expect fast service – everything is relaxed and laid back, people do things in their own time. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
- Pretty much everywhere closes between 3 – 8. Certainly don’t expect to get food between those hours cause everyone will be having a Siesta.
- Walk everywhere & remember to look up – the architecture is stunning with even new buildings designed to blend with the old.
- Don’t get run over by a tram – this very nearly happened try mother and myself whilst there!
And now, onto the sightseeing …
1. Real Alcazar
The Real Alcazar is truly one of the most enchanting places in Seville. A Moorish fortress rebuilt to a Christian palace, it has both Moorish and Christian influence throughout with intricate mosaics, paintings, vaulter ceiling and vast gardens filled with flowers and orange trees.
Games of Throne fans will recognise some of the formal gardens as being the setting for Dorne but neither the TV show, nor my pictures, really do it any justice!
Alcazar is extremely popular and we arrived at 10 am (when it opens) to vast queues so arrive early. Alternatively, we joined a tour of the palace that cost an extra €8 per person but means we jumped the queue and got a 45 minute guided walk through the palace.
Once into the palace, you can spend as long as you like there (although it does close at 5). I loved wandering through the gardens more than anything, most of the fellow sightseers seemed to stick to the palace area so venturing further into the garden meant you could find some wonderfully peaceful and secluded places to just sit and enjoy the beauty.
2. The Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Sede
The Cathedral in Seville really is the centre piece, the heart of the city with a sprawl of winding streets and courtyards spreading away from it. It is vast and imposing, built to demonstrate power and dominance. The Gothic architecture screams ‘I am powerful’ and indeed, it leaves an impression – especially when all lit up at night.
Inside, there are a maze of gilded gold chapels for worship. Now I have to admit, Cathedrals on the inside always leave me slightly uncomfortable. I feel my atheist self is kind of stomping over someones beliefs by just being there, that I’m an interloper in a sacred ground. However, I love the rich histories that Cathedrals show and the display of a past grandeur.
By far the highlight of the Cathedral is climbing the Giralda bell tower. 34 floors up (it’s all ramps) and you get the most amazing views of the city from all angles. Some of the most interesting architecture is the roof of the Cathedral and the top of the Giralda tower allows you to look down on this. There is something very Assassin’s Creed (which was actually filmed here) about being so high, looking down on the rooftops and orange gardens.
3. Plaza De Espana
A grand architectural display of Spain, its industry and it trade, the Plaza De Espana is really quite stunning – especially if you arrive as the sun is beginning to set as it casts a shimmery glow across the circular canal, complete with gondolas. It’s actually another film location, this time its Naboo in Star Wars, The Phantom Menace. Can you see it?
I spent around an hour here, which I feel is sufficient, wandering around and drinking in the amazing architecture and the regional murals that celebrate the individual Spanish regions with a beautiful mosaic alcove.
There are also lots of little ice cream and snack carts just outside the Plaza if you wanted to sit with a drink or ice cream and soak up the sun in a very atmospheric setting.
4. Aire De Seville
A city break isn’t a city break without a spa stop – I did it in Budapest and it has since become a tradition that I hope to keep up.
My mother and I went to Aire Ancient Baths – an underground caven of lantern lit pools, jacuzzi’s and salt baths. Relaxing music floats up from speakers under the water and they offer delightfully relaxing massages to sooth those walk-weary legs.
We booked in for 3pm which worked perfectly to fill those hours when the shops and restaurants are closed for siesta. The salt pool was by far my favourite of the pools, it made my skin tingle and floating whilst listening to Moorish guitar music was the ultimate in relaxation. They serve sweet tea and iced water in a relaxation room.
I’m afraid I didn’t get any pictures of the inside because I was too busy relaxing but the waiting room is a brighter lit version of what you will find inside.
5. Metropol Parasol – The Mushrooms
The Metropol Parasol is a vast modern construction that is in severe contrast to the old city. They are definitely worth seeing, offering views across the city as you walk around the rooftop and have a wine or beer on the terrace.
I went on an evening and they were a hive of activity but there was something contrived and false about them. They just weren’t all that!
I’m glad I went to see them, but don’t schedule more than an hour of your time seeing these.
So that’s my Seville guide, although I’m sure I could do a whole other one food. Would you be interested in a food posts too?
Oh, and don’t forget to check out what I wore in Seville – it includes many more amazing photos.