20 Must-Visit Attractions in Seville, Spain

20 Must-Visit Attractions in Seville, Spain

20 Must-Visit Attractions in Seville, Spain
Santa Cruz, Seville | © Irina Sen/Shutterstock
Picture of Mark Nayler
MARK NAYLER

Seville has something for everyone. From its great Moorish and Catholic monuments to its historic bullring, and from great tapas bars to enchanting old neighbourhoods and giant wooden mushrooms, these are the top 20 attractions for you to seek out while you’re in the Andalusian capital.
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Royal Alcazar Palace

The internal courtyard of Seville’s Alcazar palace
The internal courtyard of Seville’s Alcazar palace | © pixabay

Along with the cathedral, Seville’s key architectural attraction is the Royal Alcázar Palace. Work on this great palace complex began in the 10th century, when the Umayyads built a Moorish fortress attached to the Roman city walls, but it was not until the 12th century that the first royal palace was built on the site, by the then-ruling Almohad Dynasty. Additions and renovations continued on and off until the 19th century, resulting in a structure that showcases a mix of Moorish, Renaissance and Mudéjar architecture, with the latter being particularly notable in the Mudéjar Palace. The upper floors of the Alcázar are the Spanish royal family’s Seville residence, making it Europe’s oldest continually used royal palace. Real Alcázar de Sevilla, Patio de Banderas, s/n, Seville, Spain, +34 954 50 23 24

Seville’s greatest Catholic monument amazes with its sheer size: it is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. Construction of this sprawling Gothic complex, which houses 80 chapels and has the longest central nave in Spain, began in 1401 on the site of the city’s former mosque. Work continued for over 100 years, and in 1507 the cathedral was finally completed, having spectacularly succeeded in fulfilling the design team’s aim to make something ‘so beautiful and so magnificent that those who see it will think we are mad’.

Catedral de Sevilla, Av. de la Constitución, Seville, Spain, +34 902 09 96 92

Giralda Bell Tower
All that remains of Seville’s great mosque is part of its minaret, which is now the cathedral’s Giralda bell tower, another of Seville’s key architectural attractions. The minaret, which was built during the Almohad period, was originally topped with giant copper globes, but these fell off in an earthquake in 1365. The ruling conquistadors, perhaps interpreting their removal as a hint from the universe, decided to replace them with a Christian cross and bell tower. Except for the final section, which features stairs, the route to the top (for stunning views) is via ramps – supposedly so it can be reached by horseback, although it’s unclear whether this means you have to buy two tickets or just one.

View from the top of Seville’s iconic Giralda belltower
© AlmudenaCuesta/Pixabay

Casa de Pilatos
This beautiful 15th–16th-century mansion is one of central Seville’s hidden treasures, and its exquisite gardens, though smaller in scale, match anything you’ll see in the Alcázar. Begun by the wealthy conquistador and Mayor of Andalucia, Pedro Enriquez de Quiñones, in the late 1400s, Casa de Pilatos is another of Seville’s classic Mudéjar structures, built around a central courtyard in the traditional Andalusian style. Its name – Pilate’s House – was bestowed (hopefully with a touch of mockery) after Quiñones’ son Fadrique traveled to Jerusalem in 1519 and returned overflowing with enthusiasm for the Holy Land. The palace’s undeniable good looks have earned it a starring role in two films: 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia and 2010’s Knight and Day.

Casa de Pilatos, 1 Plaza de Pilatos, Seville, Spain, +34 954 22 52 98

Casa de Pilatos, Seville | © Sandra Vallaure/Flickr
Casa de Pilatos, Seville | © Sandra Vallaure/Flickr

Bullring
Seville’s Real Maestranza bullring is one of the most attractive and important plazas in Spain. Construction began in 1761 on the site of the city’s old rectangular plaza de Toros and was finally completed in 1881. Particularly attractive is the Prince’s Gate (the main entrance), the ornate black iron gates of which are the work of Pedro Roldan, and which were originally the property of a convent. Being carried through these on the shoulders of fellow matadors and the public is a mark of great triumph, and one of the highest honors attainable by a matador in Spain. The Maestranza’s excellent museum explores the history of bullfighting, and daily tours of the arena are available.

Plaza de Toros de Sevilla, 12 Paseo de Cristóbal Colón, Seville, Spain, +34 954 22 45 77

Bullfights
The audience that packs out Seville’s stately 18th-century bullring every time there is a bullfight is known to be the most demanding in Spain – and for good reason. Often, a kind of party atmosphere prevails in the stands during a bullfight: Spaniards turn up in big groups with picnic baskets crammed full of beer and sandwiches and make a social occasion of it, which can make concentrating on events in the ring difficult. In Seville, however, the bullfight is watched in studious silence, with applause and jeering meted out only when truly deserved. This makes for an ambiance of great intensity and drama and, if you choose to experience it for yourself, a truly unforgettable afternoon. The best time to see a bullfight here is during Seville’s annual April fair, more on which below.

Seville’s beautiful bullring
© tpsdave/Pixabay
Torre de Oro
Visible from any of Seville’s central bridges is the 13th-century watchtower known as the Torre de Oro, or the ‘Tower of Gold’. It was built by the Almohad rulers of Seville between 1220 and 1221 and has undergone several restorations over the intervening centuries, the most recent of which was in 2005. Nowadays, it houses Seville’s small but interesting Maritime Museum, which explores the importance of the Guadalquivir River and Atlantic to the Andalusian capital’s history.

Torre do Oro, Paseo de Cristóbal Colón, s/n, Seville, Spain

Torre do Oro, Seville | © Guenther49/Pixabay
Torre do Oro, Seville | © Guenther49/Pixabay

One of Seville’s Mudejar classics is the Plaza de España, a stunning development built-in 1928 in preparation for Seville’s hosting of the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. The half-moon-shaped building is fronted by a moat and borders on a plaza with a beautiful fountain at its center; it showcases a striking mix of Mudéjar and Renaissance styles, with splashes of Art Deco to be seen on the colorful façades. Boating can be enjoyed on the moat, which is spanned by four bridges representing the ancient kingdoms of Spain.

Plaza de España, Seville
Plaza de España, Seville | © bogitw/Pixabay
In preparation for Seville’s hosting of the Ibero-American Expo of 1929, the southern part of the city received a costly facelift. At the heart of this redevelopment was the Maria Luisa Park, a botanical garden and the Andalusian capital’s largest and most attractive area of greenery. It is a beautiful place to stroll in spring, when the park’s many species of plants and flowers are in bloom and when the local residents – doves, parrots, ducks and swans – are on display. Stretching along the banks of the Guadalquivir, its half-mile of shaded walkways, tiled fountains, ponds and tropical foliage is also home to the Mudéjar Pavillion, in which the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions of Seville can be found.

Seville’s impressive Archive of the Indies
Seville’s impressive Archive of the Indies | Sandra Vallaure/Flickr

Documenting the Golden Age of the Spanish Empire that followed Christopher Columbus’s exploration of the Americas in 1492 is Seville’s Archive of the Indies, a must-see for history boffins. These UNESCO-protected 16th-century buildings house some 80 million documents relating to the Spanish Empire of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, a period when Seville was the empire’s most important city. If you think that sounds like a little too much reading for one afternoon, fear not: as well as the beautiful old books and the palatial buildings themselves, other sights here include a 17th-century cannon, maps charting the entire Spanish Empire and several paintings by Goya.

Old books on the Spanish Empire in Seville’s Archive of the Indies
Old books on the Spanish Empire in Seville’s Archive of the Indies | © Adam Jones/Flickr

Al Aljibe is one of the best tapas bars on the Alameda de Hercules, Seville’s trendiest and most popular nightspot. The restaurant boasts a romantic and secluded first-floor terrace overlooking the Alameda, as well as an exclusive rooftop patio with just a few tables. Bear in mind that only full plates or “raciones”  are served on the rooftop seating area, although ordering bigger portions of Aljibe’s incredible food won’t be a problem. Customers rave about the ox burger, the fried cod with vegetables and the duck and brandy paté. Inside, there is seating spread over two floors, but it’s always worth reserving a table, especially in the evenings. Aljibe’s location and food have made it one of the most popular high-class tapas places in town.

If a tapas restaurant on the Alameda de Hercules is having to turn customers away of an evening, that’s a sign it’s doing something pretty special. This is the case with La Mata 24, a classy establishment that is often packed to capacity after 9pm. The style is pan-Mediterranean rather than Spanish, and all the dishes are prepared with an inventiveness that can be lacking in Seville’s more traditional tapas restaurants. The wine list and service are highly recommended, and the bar hosts regular exhibitions of work by local and non-local artists, making it a must if you’re hanging out in this lively part of Seville.

Mercado de Triana
Mercado de Triana | © Karan Jain/Flickr

Triana is Seville’s former Gypsy quarter and one of the city’s most distinctive attractions. From its pretty, myth-laden streets have come some of the most influential bullfighters of the last couple of centuries, including the legendary Juan Belmonte, one of the greatest matadors in the history of bullfighting. Its colourful, quaint streets are lined with old-style tapas bars, the walls of which are often plastered with faded bullfighting posters, photos of flamenco artists and weeping Virgin Marys. It is also known for its locally made ceramics, which adorn the walls of its old, whitewashed houses, and one of Seville’s best and most lively markets, the Mercado de Triana.

Bar Bodega Santa Cruz
This lively tavern is one of the best in central Seville and is a great place to start your exploration of the romantic, intriguing neighborhood of Santa Cruz. Owing to the scarcity of outside seating, it always seems as if a spontaneous street party is going on outside, with eaters and drinkers taking over the pavement in front of the bar. The food and drink offering is traditional, with a range of wines and sherries available, as well as excellent tapas at about €2 a pop. It’s particularly good for an early evening stop-off when the atmosphere is joyfully chaotic. Bodega Santa Cruz, 1A Calle Rodrigo Caro, Seville, Spain, +34 954 21 16 94

Santa Cruz
Surrounding the central plaza on which Seville’s mighty cathedral squats is the charming old Jewish neighborhood of Santa Cruz, one of Andalusia’s most iconic barrios. This was the neighborhood into which Ferdinand III confined the city’s Jewish population when he took the city from the Moors in 1248; nowadays, it’s the heart of historic Seville and the first place many tourists head to. In this maze of narrow cobbled streets and achingly romantic squares are to be found some of the city’s best tapas bars and flamenco joints, but just to wander around Santa Cruz (almost certainly getting lost, if it’s your first time) is an experience in itself.

A typical street in Seville’s Santa Cruz
© Irina Sen/Shutterstock

Slightly surly service is the price to pay for enjoying sweet wines, sherry and tapas in this local institution. La Bodega is well established on the tourist route in Santa Cruz but Sevillanos love it too, piling in in huge groups from about 2 pm for lunch and about 9pm for dinner. These are the best times to head to La Bodega for a glass of the signature manzanilla (old barrels are scattered around the place) and a plate of their excellent tapas, either crammed in amongst Sevillanos at the bar or, if you’re lucky, at one of the tables.

Romeo and Juliet Balcony
Winding along beside the Alcázar in the heart of Santa Cruz is a narrow, shaded alleyway called Calle Agua, named after a mini-aqueduct that used to run along the top of the Moorish palace’s walls. This mysterious path brings you out onto the absurdly romantic Plaza Alfaro, always busy with tourists pointing their cameras upwards and snapping away at the building said to have inspired the balcony scene in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Whether this tale is apocryphal or not, it’s easy to imagine a latter-day Romeo scaling the beautiful facade to reach the object of his desire.

Plaza Alfaro, Seville, Spain

Seville’s Romeo and Juliet building | © Encarni Novillo
Seville’s Romeo and Juliet building | © Encarni Novillo

Feria de Abril
The Feria de Abril, Seville’s legendary fiesta, takes place two weeks after Easter and is one of Andalusia’s biggest fairs. This week-long party has left its humble 19th -century cattle-market beginnings long behind, and its sanded fairground – or recinto – now hosts over 1,000 individual marquees, or casetas, every year. Run by local charities, businesses and collectives, these casetas are where the locals dance and drink until the small hours of the morning, every night for a week. Although the vast majority of the marquees are private and require an invitation for entry, there are several public casetas which are just as much fun. If you’re planning a visit to Seville in spring, make sure you plan it to coincide with this annual extravaganza.

Las Setas Metropol Parasol
Visitors enjoy the views of Seville from the Metropol Parasol | © Zefrog / Alamy Stock Photo
One of Seville’s most popular – and unusual – attractions is The Metropol Parasol, known locally as Las Setas, or ‘the Mushrooms’, because of the distinctive shape of its vast wooden canopies and supporting pillars. When work started on the Mushrooms in 2005, Roman remains were found underneath Plaza Encarnación, making construction a lengthy and controversial process. To preserve the extensive remains, which can be seen on the lower ground floor, these enormous wooden fungi are supported on just a few elegant white pillars above the square. On the monument’s roof, a winding walkway provides stunning views over the city, especially at sunset.

Las Setas de Sevilla, Pl de la Encarnación, s/n, Seville, Spain, 0034 954 56 15 12

Situated underneath the vast canopies of Seville’s Setas on the popular Plaza de la Encarnación is Los Alcazares, one of the best tapas joints in central Seville. From its small, traditional bar room or outside terrace you can watch life unfold on the busy plaza while sipping on a cold beer or sweet manzanilla. Alcazares is popular with tourists, but the old-fashioned décor (think bullfighting and fiesta posters) and its popularity with nearby office workers who stop in for a quick tapas and beer at lunchtime mean it doesn’t feel touristy.

Book an Experience in Seville

The rise of Al-Andalus in the Iberian Peninsula

The rise of Al-Andalus in the Iberian Peninsula (Hispania)

In the year 711 Muslim forces, following the orders of the governor of Africa, Musa ibn Nusayr, and under the command of Tariq ibn Ziyad, crossed the straits of Gibraltar and defeated the army of the Visigothic king Roderic somewhere inland from Tarifa. In the following year, Musa himself led an army across the straits and took over command of the conquest.

The rapid advance of the Muslims throughout the Iberian Peninsula (modern Spain & Portugal) was impressive. By 720 almost all the territory was under their control, with the exception of a thin strip along the north coast, roughly equivalent to Asturias and Cantabria.

Whether the Muslims intended to stay is not clear, but undoubtedly the large fertile areas they saw were a significant factor in their decision to remain.  In addition, the invasion was a useful means of channeling the energies of the recently conquered and converted Berbers of the Maghreb (Northwest Africa) with the promise of booty, slaves and lands.

Run by governors acting for the Umayyad Caliph in Damascus (Syria), the peninsula’s fortunes were initially tied to the interests of the Middle East. . After the conquest of the peninsula, governors followed thick and fast, the first being Musa’s son, Abd al-Aziz,  soon decapitated in Seville  accused of trying  to usurp power and declare himself ruler.

 

The Arabs brought with them tribal quarrels inherited from the Middle East while the Berbers felt treated as second-class citizens by the Arabs. The Berber grievances were not without cause. When land was confiscated from those who had opposed the invading armies, the Arabs amassed the best property, e.g. along the Guadalquivir, Guadiana and Ebro river valleys, and the fertile coastal areas. The Berbers had to make do with the rest, mainly mountainous areas around Granada, the hostile Duero valley and damp Galicia in the north west, and the Pyrenees in the north east.

A Berber rebellion in 740 resulted in a civil war.

At this moment, the history of Al-Andalus or Muslim Spain witnessed an important event, the arrival of Abd al-Rahman

 

by 750, a rival dynasty, the Abbasids (who claimed descent from the Prophet via his daughter Fátima and his murdered son-in-law Ali), succeeded in overthrowing the Umayyads and shortly after removed the caliphate to Baghdad. The whole process was a bloody affair and the Umayyad royal family decimated in the purge. Only one member, 20-year old Abd al-Rahman, escaped. He made his way across North Africa, eventually arriving in Spain in 756.

Quickly he gathered support from among the pro-Umayyad factions there, and within a few months had deposed the governor of al-Andalus, entrenched himself in Córdoba and declared himself emir. The Umayyads may have lost everything in the Middle East, but under Abd al-Rahman, a new Umayyad dynasty was born in Spain that would largely set its own political independence of the Caliphate of Baghdad.

 

Abd al-Rahman I: Emir of Al-Andalus 756-788

Abd al-Rahman ruled for 32 years, spending much of the time putting down revolts within his realm and consolidating his power. When he arrived in 756, Muslim control had already contracted from the heady days of the invasion, especially in the northwest, thanks to Christian resistance.

Abd al-Rahman’s determination to impose his rule was constantly challenged by these local rulers, and also by Abbasid support from Baghdad. However, he gradually put down revolts one by one, and when the occasion merited it was not above coming to terms with Christian opposition.  By the early 770s, Abd al-Rahman controlled all but the Ebro valley.

In 785 Abd al-Rahman build a great Masjid in Cordoba. It was a large and striking house of worship befitting both his illustrious heritage and his authority in al-Andalus.

The great Cordoba Mosque was a powerful statement to the still considerable Christian community -called the Mozarabs-, that Islam was there to stay. As a tribute to his lost home in Siria, Abd al-Rahman ordered to orientate the qibla wall -that always directs the faithful towards Mecca when praying- facing Damascus. This way when praying, he would symbolically be paying homage to his Umayyad heritage.

Another building was a more personal and nostalgic reminder of Abd al-Rahman’s Syrian past. It was the beautiful palace of Rusafa, built on the hillside overlooking the city (where today stands the Parador of Arruzafa).

T the palace was surrounded by a beautiful garden.  Here Abd al-Rahman spent most of his last years tending his plants and especially his palm trees, planted so it is believed by the emir himself. A short poem, written by Abd al-Rahman is a poignant summary of his nostalgia:

A palm tree stands in the middle of Rusafa,/ Born in the West, far from the land of palms./ I said to it: How like me you are, far away and in exile,/ In long separation from family and friends./ You have sprung from the soil in which you are a stranger;/ And I, like you, am far from home.

Abd al-Rahman died in Cordoba in 788, passing the reins of power to his designated heir, a younger son, Hisham.

Mosques to visit in Spain

Mosques to visit in Spain

Mosques to visit in Spain

By Sakina Kamrudeen | 15, Nov, 2017

Magnificent Mosques of Spain
Spain has a long and colourful history, having first been conquered by the Roman Empire until the Middle Ages, when in the 8th century, Spain became a part of the ever-expanding Umayyad Caliphate. Although later, in the 15th century, Imperialism invaded Spain, followed by the wars for liberalization in the 18th century, leading to the Spanish civil war and finally establishing Spain as a Democracy.
This Islamic reign by the Muslim Moors in the Iberian Peninsula indelibly left its mark on modern-day Spain, resulting in the Spanish kingdom being dotted with some of the most beautiful mosques with an awe-inspiring architecture of that era. Thus, for the Muslim traveller on a holiday in Spain, some of the world’s most amazing Mosques await you. In fact, visiting these wonderous Spanish Mosques must be on the ‘to-do’ list for any Halal trip to Spain.
So, review these renowned Mosques, and locate them on your mobile, to experience a prayer place which has been standing for over a thousand years!

The Great Mosque of Córdoba

The Great Mosque of Córdoba located in the Spanish region of Andalusia was originally a small Christian Visigoth church. When the Moor Muslim’s came to rule Spain, Abd al-Rahman I ordered the construction of the Great Mosque in 784. This Mosque was further expanded by later Muslim rulers. This Mosque of Córdoba was important to the Islamic community of al-Andalus for three centuries. In 1236, Córdoba was converted to a Roman Catholic church. Since the early 21st century the Spanish Muslims have been lobbying the Roman Catholic church to allow them to pray at this site, but have however to date been denied permission.
In its heyday, the Great Mosque of Córdoba was used as the main place for prayer, it was also a hall for teaching Islam and the site for Sharia Law cases.

Architecture and Design

The architectural design of the Great Mosque of Córdoba is inspired by the Great Mosque of Damascus, the Dome of the Rock and the Aachen Cathedral. Architects also incorporate Roman columns of Gothic structure and others sent from different regions of Iberia as gifts. The Columns, arches and other decorative aspects of the Mosque were incorporated with ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass. Mosaics and azulejos were also incorporated in the design of the Mosque. The walls were also decorated with Quranic inscriptions. The mihrab of the Mosque was considered an architectural masterpiece with its geometric and flowing designs of plants.
However, when Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, the centre of the Great Mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. As time passed other Christian features were added such chapels and a nave. The minaret of the Mosque was also converted to the bell tower.

Interesting Facts

 

  • It is reported that Abd al-Rahman I is buried under the site of the Mosque.
  • Abd al-Rahman I initially named the Mosque ‘Aljama Mosque’ in honour of his wife.

MOSQUE Status

The Great Mosque of Córdoba was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites as a part of the Historic Center of Córdoba in 1984.
Although Muslims are not allowed to pray at this Mosque, it is a must visit with its amazing architecture and remarkable historical significance.
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday – 10:00 am to 06:00 pm | Sunday and Religious Festive Days – 9:00 am to 10:30 am and 02:00 pm to 06:00 pm.
Tickets: Guided Tours – 40 € per person and free for children under 8 years old | Tours without a Guide – 10 € per person, 5 € for children between 10-14 years old and free for children under 10 years old.
Click here for more information about The Mosque of Córdoba

Mosque of Cristo de la Luz

The Mosque of Cristo de la Luz has remained nearly unchanged since its construction in 999 and is the only remaining former Moorish Mosque in the city of Toledo, Spain. Originally named the Mezquita Bab-al-Mardum, it is located near the Puerta del Sol, a city gate of Toledo, Spain, built in the late 14th century.

Architecture and Design

This Mosque was built over a Visigoth church measuring approximately 8m X 8m with four columns dividing the interior into nine parts. The designs in each of these nine parts are unique and follow Islamic design concepts. This Mosque, which was converted to a chapel in 1186, is constructed of brick and small stones. The overall architectural design and formation is a blend of Moorish style and local building techniques. However, much of its influence can be attributed to the caliphate in Córdoba and the Great Mosque of Córdoba.
After the conversion of the Mosque to a church, the qibla wall and mihrab were lost when an apse was built in the Mudejar architecture style. Today, this building also features many Christian themed decorations and murals of Christ and other figures.

MOSQUE Status

Today, this building functions as a church. However, Muslim travellers will get a feel the Mosque that it was, especially with the inscription in Kufic script on the facade of the building that reveals the details of the Mosque’s origin.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 10:00 am – 06:45 pm (March 1st to October 15th) | 10:00 – 05:45 pm (October 16th to February 28th).
Tickets: General – 2.80 € | Accredited Groups – 2.40 € | Free for under the age of 11.

Click here for more information about The Mosque of Cristo de la Luz

The Mosque of Almonaster la Real

This Mosque was built in the 10th century from the origins of a Visigoth basilica of the 5th century. Hailed as one of the few surviving Spanish rural Mosques, it is an oddly shaped building made of brick and stone. This Mosque sits on top of a hill within the castle overlooking the village of Almonaster la Real in the province of Huelva, Spain. This beautifully preserved Mosque was converted to a church as Islamic rule changed to Christian rule. Over the centuries this Mosque has gone through numerous changes, but its Islamic features have been retained while new Christian elements were added on.

Architecture and Design

This Mosque was built during the reign of Abd al-Rahman III. It is trapezoidal in shape and has three parts – the prayer hall, the courtyard of ablutions, and the minaret tower. The prayer hall has five small naves. The central nave is covered by a half-sphere dome and brick arches. The courtyard of ablutions is built-into the facade of the rock. Most of the minaret has been built over due to the additions made over the years. The Mihrab, however, still stands, but has over the years lost its paint, and only the brick and stone remain today.

Interesting Facts

  • 16 undated tombs were found in the oration room of the Mosque.
  • The Mosque of Almonaster la Real is the focus of the annual ‘Jornadas de Cultura Islamica’ which takes place in the town of in Almonaster la Real in the month of October.

MOSQUE Status

Despite the changes over the years, the building retains its ‘Moorish character’ to date. It was declared a National Monument in 1931 and was further renovated between 1970 and 1973. The Mosque of Almonaster la Real is a must-visit place while on your Halal trip to Spain.
Opening Hours: Every day from 09.00 am to 08.30 pm.
Tickets: Entrance is free.

Click here for more information about The Mosque of Mezquita de Almonaster La Real

MOSQUE at Alcazar of Jerez de la Frontera

Picture Credit – www.flickriver.com

The Mosque within the Alcazar of Jerez de la Frontera in the is the Cadiz province of Spain is the only remaining one in the region from the original 18 Mosques. It was built in the 11th century but was converted to a church in the 13th century when the Christians conquered the region. The entire Fortress was designated as a world heritage site in 1931.

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 09:30 am – 02:30 pm (October 1st to June 30th) | Monday to Friday 09:30 am – 05:30 pm (July 1st to September 30th) | Saturday and Sunday 09:30 am – 02:30 pm
Tickets: General – 5 € | Groups – 4 €
Click here for more information about Mezquita de Jerez

Other Former MOSQUES of Spain

Apart from the above famous historic Mosques of Spain, there are much more Mosques or Mezquita (as known in Spanish) which can be visited. While many have been converted to churches or put to other uses today, the architecture and splendour still remain. So, while holidaying in Spain and visiting these regions/cities, take the time to visit these magnificent mosques in Spain.
  • Mezquita de las Tornerías | Toledo, Spain
  • Santa Maria de la Sede Cathedral (also known as Seville Cathedral) | Seville, Spain

Modern Mosques in Spain

For those Muslim travellers are looking for Mosques with the express purpose of prayer, these modern Mosques of Spain are your answer. A quick search on Google Maps should give you its location.

Basharat Mosque


Address: Mezquita Basharat, 14630 Pedro Abad, Córdoba, Spain | Opened: 1982
Click here for more information about Basharat Mosque

Madrid Central Mosque


Address: Calle Anastasio Herrero, 5, 28020 Madrid, Spain | Opened: 1988
Click here for more information about Madrid Central Mosque

King Abdul Aziz Mosque

Picture Credit – marbellaazul.com

Address: s 29602, Urb. Lomas Marbella-S, 18, 29602 Marbella, Málaga, Spain | Built: 1981
Click here for more information about King Abdul Aziz Mosque
Sakina has over 10 years of experience in the field of corporate communications; having worked for a leading Annual Report Production House dealing with top corporates of Sri Lanka and overseas, and later as the Group Communications Specialist for a Sri Lankan conglomerate for their overseas plantations business. She is well-versed in the production process of annual reports, sustainability reports, corporate videos and other corporate communication media. She also has experience in Social Media Marketing and works to increase and improve social media presence of corporates and small niche market businesses. Today, she works as a freelance writer and undertakes consultations on corporate communications and social media related projects. She enjoys writing for blogs on topics of interest.

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10 Best Islamic monuments to learn about Muslim Spain

10 Best Islamic monuments to learn about Muslim Spain

The Islamic civilization left in Spain a huge artistic and architectonic heritage. For eight centuries, a significant part of Spain was under Muslim rule.  That period not only introduced in Spain important scientific, agricultural, cultural advances (as it also did in Europe), but also left impressive examples of architecture, which nowadays still decorate the Spanish cities. This heritage reminds us the shared history and the cultural proximity that we have with that Islamic civilization.

The Muslim rule left in Spain a huge architectonic and monumental heritage, which in plenty of occasions preserves the splendor of a civilization that reached an extraordinary level of development and artistic sophistication. Palaces, mosques and fortresses continue to be proud witnesses of an essential era of our history, and are still today some of the European most visited monuments.

 

The Alhambra Nasrid Palaces

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Granada’s Alhambra complex is without doubts the architectonic and artistic Muslim landmark in Spain. It is the best Arab palace in the world and one of the world’s most spectacular monuments that exudes beauty in each of its halls and yards. The residence of the Nasrid Kingdom created a space for the pleasure of the senses, in which harmony and the refinement of the design and the decoration of Muslim civilization reached almost unparalleled levels of perfection.

The Generalife Palace

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Placed next to the Alhambra, the Generalife is the villa that the Muslim kings used as a place for rest and leisure. As in the Alhambra, the systems of water canalization that were used, stand out. However, the sublime beauty of the enclosure lies in the harmony and fineness of the space distribution and the design and care of gardens, yards and water tanks.

Cordoba old Mosque

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If the Alhambra and the Generalife are two examples of civil architecture in Spain, Córdoba’s Mosque-Cathedral is its equivalent in the religious field. Initially it was a Visigothic basilica, but the Arabs built over it a worship area, whose startling column forest, is its most characteristic sign of identity. But the temple, which today also houses the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, also exudes beauty in its doors and mainly in its scrumptious Mihrab.

Medina Azahara archeological site

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Unfortunately, the Arab complex of Medina Azahara in Córdoba, has not been able to be preserved to the present day in all its splendor. Conceived as a palace and city of Cordoba’s Caliph Abderrahman III, we can still admire its ancient strength in the remains of the Palace of Zahra and its two big halls. Its marble pavements and its geometrical and flowery decoration still stand out.

 

The Aljafería Palace

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Aljafería’s Palace is the proof that the legacy of the Muslim civilization is not reduced only to the south of the Iberian Peninsula. This fortress, which has suffered various modifications through its history and that today’s appears like a Cristian castle, houses in its interior, the design and the ornamentation of the ancient Muslim alcazar fortress. It was the symbol of the power of the Taifa Kingdoms, represented in the the lobed arches, the mosque and the courtyard. Today it houses the Parliament of Aragon.

The Giralda Tower

Giralda Tower Seville Muslim Tour Ilimtour Spain Muslim Tours

The Giralda Tower Islamic Architecture of Al-Andalus (Muslim spain)

The Giralda, which is Seville’s symbol, stands nowadays as the imposing bell tower of the cathedral. Nevertheless, in its origins it was the mosque’s minaret. The two inferior thirds of the current tower are exactly thoseof the Muslim edification. They are recognizable due to their Arab ornamentation.  A spiral ramp allows to reach to the top.

 

Torre del Oro

Torre del Oro Seville Islamic Architecture Al Andalus

Torre del Oro a defensive tower dated from the 13th

This tower, of Arabs origins, has been rebuild in several occasions. In its origins it had a defensive role because it was part of the walls with which the Alcazar protected the city. After Seville was reconquered, it housed a chapel and became even a prison. It is called Torre del Oro due to the reflection of his color over the Guadalquivir river, next to which it is built.

 

Alcazaba of Malaga

Gibralfaro Castle Malaga Muslim Friendly tour spain

Gibralfaro Castle and the Alcazaba of Malaga from the Muslim period

This stronghold and palace which was designed like an enclosure of concentric walls, is another of the great examples of the Arabic architecture in Spain. Attached to the feet of the Mount Gibralfaro, the Alcazaba doesn’t preserve even half of its extension, but the importance of the place can be deduced from the currently visible elements. The areas of its urban design can still been seen, with doors, arches and the ancient neighborhood of houses.

 

Mosque of Cristo de la Luz

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The hermitage of Cristo de la Luz, which was previously Bab al-Mardum Mosque or the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz, is the best Muslim temple preserved in Toledo and an example of Córdoba’s Caliphate splendor. Later on, when the small area converted into Christianity, a new carcass of Mudejar art, which gives shape to the hermitage’s apse, would be added.

 

Gormaz Castle

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Another example of the Muslim architecture in the north of the peninsula is the Gormaz fortress, located in Soria, close to Burgo de Osma. Its imposing wall raises at a promontory in the Castilian field. A part of its importance as military site, this construction was Europe’s biggest medieval fortress. Its caliphal door carries the stamp of Muslim art.

Fuentes: La Opinión de Tenerife y
Things to See and Do in Santa Cruz Quarter, Seville

Things to See and Do in Santa Cruz Quarter, Seville

It was into the beautiful barrio of Santa Cruz that Seville’s Jewish population was confined when Ferdinand III took the city from the Moors in 1248. Brutal as the Catholic monarch could be, you can’t help but feel as you wander around the pretty, impossibly narrow streets of Seville’s most famous quarter that there could have been worse places to be banished. Here are the 10 things you don’t want to miss when visiting Santa Cruz.

Wandering

Along with Granada’s old Arabic quarter of Albaicín, Santa Cruz is the best barrio in Andalusia for aimless wandering. Its unfeasibly narrow streets make those of Triana, Seville’s former gypsy quarter, look like Parisian boulevards and most are impassable by car – meaning meanderers have this charming neighborhood pretty much to themselves. Discovering its secret squares and stumbling upon its beautiful old palaces and churches is one of the best ways to pass a long morning or afternoon in the Andalusian capital. And don’t worry if you get lost, because it’s a rite of passage for the first-time visitor to Seville to become happily disoriented in Santa Cruz.

Tapas bars

Seville is one of the warmest cities in Europe, so visiting in spring or summer will necessitate frequent stops for refreshment. And if you’re nosing around Santa Cruz you couldn’t be in a better spot for tapas: the old Jewish quarter is home to a bewildering array of bars and restaurants, ranging from some of the city’s smartest eateries to the most old-school joints. Both kinds of the establishment are dotted all over the neighborhood, but a good place to start hunting for your preferred venue is by walking up Calle Mateos Gago, away from the cathedral. This popular street is lined with tapas bars and restaurants and leads into the heart of Santa Cruz: just take any right or left you fancy.

Calle Mateos Gago, Seville, Spain

 

Cathedral

Sitting at the heart of Santa Cruz is the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See – the largest cathedral and third largest church in the world. Construction of this sprawling Gothic complex – which takes up the equivalent of several city blocks and houses 80 chapels – began in 1401 and continued for over a hundred years. The original construction committee of the cathedral, it is said, wanted to create a church so “beautiful and so magnificent that those who see it will think we are mad.” In 1507 the cathedral was finally completed, quite spectacularly succeeding in its original aim, as well as showing the rest of Europe just how powerful and wealthy Seville had become.

Seville Cathedral, Av. de la Constitución, Seville, Spain, +34 902 09 96 92

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Seville’s cathedral is the largest in the world © Encarni Novillo

 

Aire Baths

For a dose of history-laden luxury in the center of Seville, head to Aire Ancient Baths. The Seville branch of this super-sleek Arabic/Roman bath franchise – which opened in Chicago last year and will do so in London and Paris in 2018 – was established 15 years ago in a refurbished mansion built in the 16th century above Roman remains. No expense was spared in the stunning renovation. The mansion’s original brickwork has only been enhanced by the addition of sleek glass and wood fittings, and the beautifully-illuminated bathing spaces feature pools and baths at a range of different temperatures. For those who want a little pampering while exploring Santa Cruz, this place is unbeatable.

Aire Ancient Baths, 15 Calle Aire, Seville, Spain,+34 955 01 00 24

 

Royal Alcazar of Seville

A stone’s throw from Seville’s display of Catholic wealth and power is a very different type of monument, one that reminds you of the grandeur of pre-Christian Seville. The Alcázar palace is considered one of the finest examples of Moorish architecture in Spain, although various sections in fact have differing styles and date from the Mudéjar and Renaissance periods as well as from the city’s Moorish epoch, which lasted from the 8th to the 13th centuries. Though it might lack the architectural pedigree of its more famous counterpart in Granada, the delicate interiors of Seville’s Moorish palace are every bit as fascinating, with delicate patterned archways and traquil internal courtyards in abundance.

Real Alcázar de Sevilla, Patio de Banderas, Seville, Spain, +34 954 50 23 24

 

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Elegant internal courtyards abound in Seville’s Alcázar © Encarni Novillo

 

Murillo Museum

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1618-82) was one of the most distinguished painters to come out of the Andalusian capital. He achieved fame and artistic recognition mainly from his religious paintings, but Murillo also left behind a fascinating body of work focusing on the everyday street life of the city in which he was born and died. Some of his paintings can be seen in the tiny but interesting Casa Murillo on the edge of Santa Cruz, the house in which he lived and worked towards the end of his life. As well as a small permanent collection of Murillo’s works, the museum also holds temporary exhibitions.

Casa de Pilatos

This gorgeous 15th/16th century mansion is one of Santa Cruz’s hidden treasures and its stunning gardens match anything you’ll see in the Alcázar. Begun by the weathly “conquistador” and Mayor of Andalucia, Pedro Enriquez de Quiñones in the late 1400s, Casa de Pilatos is an intriguing mix of Mudéjar, Gothic and Renaissance styles, built around a central courtyard in the traditional Andalusian style. So beautiful is the palace that it’s starred in two films – 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia and 2010’s Knight and Day. It takes its name – “Pilate’s House” – from Quiñones’ son Fadrique, who traveled to Jerusalem in 1519 and returned overflowing with enthusiasm for the Holy Land.

Casa de Pilatos, 1 Plaza de Pilatos, Seville, Spain, +34 954 22 52 98

 

Beautiful gardens at the Casa de Pilatos; Sandra Vallaure, flickr

Beautiful gardens at the Casa de Pilatos © Sandra Vallaure/Flickr

 

Flamenco Museum

Flamenco is a must-see in Santa Cruz

Flamenco is a must-see in Santa Cruz | © Flavio~/Flickr

Flamenco is part of Seville’s cultural DNA and Santa Cruz provides a suitably traditional setting in which to enjoy some. There is an abundance of bars and theaters offering nightly flamenco performances in and around the old Jewish quarter, but their quality and authenticity varies wildly. The Museo del Baile Flamenco (Museum of Flamenco Dance), though, is one of the best in the city and well worth a visit. Tucked away in a beautiful 18th century townhouse on one of the barrio’s characteristically narrow streets, the museum traces the history of flamenco music and culture through the centuries as well as staging daily shows that feature some of Seville’s and Andalusia’s leading flamenco artists.
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Calle Agua

This narrow, shaded alleway runs alongside the walls of the Alcázar to the beautiful Alfaro and Santa Cruz plazas (on the latter of which Murillo was born in 1618). So-called because of a mini-aquaduct that used to run along the top of the Moorish palace’s wall, this mysterious, winding path provides one of the most romantic strolls in Seville. Plaza Alfaro, incidentally, is likely to be busy with tourists pointing their cameras upwards and snapping away at the ornate old buildings, because one of them (and it’ll be obvious which) is said to have inspired the balcony scene in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Calle Agua, Seville, Spain

 

General Archive of the Indies

Seville’s position on the river Guadalquivir, which flows through Andalusia and out to the Atlantic, meant that it was superbly placed to cash in on Columbus’s discovery of the New World in 1492. And cash in it did, with riches from the new Spanish colonies ushering in the city’s Golden Age of the 15th and 16th centuries. Documenting this period of Spanish history is Seville’s grand Archive of the Indies, which is part of the UNESCO-protected cluster of buildings that also includes the cathedral and Alcázar. This vast 16th century building sits right next door to the cathedral and houses some 80 million documents relating to the Spanish Empire of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. If you think that sounds like a little too much reading for one afternoon, fear not: as well as the beautiful old books, the key sights here are a 17th century cannon, maps charting the entire Spanish Empire and several paintings by Goya.

Archivo de Indias, Av. de la Constitución, Seville, Spain, +34 954 50 05 28

 

A an ancient book on pirates at Seville´s Indies Archives; Adam Jones, flickr

A an ancient book on pirates at Seville’s Indies Archives © Adam Jones/Flickr

 

 

Original Post by Mark Nayler in The Culture Trip