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.

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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

Top Spanish Souvenirs in your Spain Holidays

Top Spanish Souvenirs in your Spain Holidays

Top Spanish Souvenirs in your Spain Holidays

Spain is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations and is home to incredible architecture, history and beaches, as well as some distinctly unique souvenirs. From handmade fans and flamenco guitars to Esencia de Ibiza, we guide you through 15 things you can only buy in Spain.

A bota

bota, or wineskin, is a traditional Spanish drinking vessel, usually used for wine, but it can hold any liquid. The method of drinking from a bota usually involves angling the wineskin so that the liquid can shoot out into the drinker’s mouth, without the mouth having to touch the bota. This way, people can easily share wine without all putting their mouths on the same part of the wineskin.

Spanish bota bags on sale in the old town of Barcelona, Spain © juan moyano / Alamy Stock Photo
Spanish bota bags on sale in the old town of Barcelona, Spain

Rock legends’ favourite guitars

Follow in the footsteps of Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and Leonard Cohen, as well as flamenco legends including Paco de Lucía, by purchasing a guitar from Felipe Conde – the Conde family are master guitar makers who have been handcrafting their instruments for over 100 years. They’re not cheap – starting at €2,500 (£2,186) and reaching over €11,000 (£9,620) – but for a lifetime investment and a piece of rock history, they’re well worth the price tag.

Espadrilles

You might be able to pick up versions of this popular summer shoe abroad, but the genuine article can only be purchased in Spain. Casa Hernanz in Madrid has been making espadrilles, a rope-soled shoe, since 1840 and is one of the longest-running espadrille manufacturers in Spain. Originally the shoe of the poor and working-class, the espadrille came to worldwide attention when Lauren Bacall sported a pair in the 1948 film Key Largo. They have been a summer fashion staple ever since.

Colorful spanish handmade espadrilles on market stall

Colorful Spanish handmade espadrilles on market stall © Architect´s Eye / Alamy Stock Photo

Flamenco attire

Spain is home to the dramatic and passionate music and dance style of flamenco, making it the perfect place to buy a flamenco dress, shawl or shoes. If you want something a little smaller, pick up some castanets, wooden concave shells that flamenco dancers clack together as a percussion instrument.

Flamenco dresses for sale, Sevilla, South of Spain

Flamenco dresses for sale, Sevilla, South of Spain © ALBERTO CONTRERAS LORENTE / Alamy Stock Photo

Bottled Ibiza air

If you want to take a part of Spain’s party island home with you after your holiday, why not buy a can of Aire de Ibiza, ‘Ibiza Air’, a bottled sample of the island’s most abundant commodity? A couple of friends on the island began selling the product from an ice-cream parlor in summer 2016, and the product has been a hit with tourists ever since.

Firewater from northern Spain

Orujo (nicknamed ‘firewater’ by locals) is a spirit with over 50% alcohol content from northern Spain. It is particularly popular in Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia, where some local families have been making the drink for generations.

 

Paella pan

Buy an authentic Spanish paella pan (and some saffron, the key ingredient of paella) and you can perfect the Spanish classic in your own home. There is a booming trade in paella pans in Valencia, home of paella, but you should be able to buy them throughout the country at markets and cookware shops.

Paella pan shop in Valencia © Petter Oftedal / Alamy Stock Photo
Paella pan shop in Valencia

Turrón

This nougat-like sweet is sold around Spain in the run up to Christmas time and is a popular gift and souvenir. It is made from almonds, honey, sugar and egg whites and is served in a rectangular slab. Casa Mira, founded in 1842 in Madrid, was the capital’s first turrón shop and today is still extremely popular with locals.

Gazpacho at McDonald’s

The Spanish classic cold tomato soup appears on many restaurant menus, but you might be surprised to see it also features on the menu at the popular fast food chain. So make sure to sample some gazpacho alongside your Big Mac and you can even enjoy a beer too – Spanish McDonald’s sells cerveza, unlike chains in many other countries.

Spanish fans

They might seem like a bit of a stereotype, but a handmade Spanish fan, or abanico, is a beautiful gift to take home and a useful cooling down method during Spain’s stifling summers. It is a common sight in the country’s big cities to see women of all ages carrying a fan as it’s one of the cheapest, quickest and easiest ways to cool down.

Spanish fans for sale © Peter Horree / Alamy Stock Photo
Spanish fans for sale

Christmas poopers

A Catalan Christmas tradition like no other, the caganer, or ‘Christmas pooper’, is a longstanding staple of every nativity scene in the northeastern region of Catalonia. Originally the figure, who has his trousers down and is defecating, is a little boy dressed in traditional clothes. Today, however, there is a booming industry in making poopers who look like famous people. You can pick up everyone from Donald Trump and the Pope to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lady Gaga. The figure is meant to symbolize good fortune for the year ahead.

 

 

Original post was written on https://theculturetrip.com/authors/jessica-jones/

Don’t miss this spectacular 16th-century mansion in Seville

Don’t miss this spectacular 16th-century mansion in Seville

Casa Pilatos (House of Pilatos)

 

 

Seville’s Casa de Pilatos was built in the 16th century and is an outstanding example of Seville’s civil palace architecture. It is a splendid blend of the Renaissance, Mudejar and Baroque styles. The humanist character of the building makes it a quintessential Renaissance mansion, with a fascinating interior and some of the finest classical and marble sculptures.

This palace dates from the union of the Enríquez and Ribera families in the last quarter of the 15th century. During the 16th century, it underwent profound changes as a result of the close relationship of leading family members with Italy, serving as a conduit for the new forms and tastes of the Renaissance to enter Seville.

Remodeling in the mid-19th century to reflect romantic tastes added to its picturesque appearance, a harmonious synthesis of the Gothic-Mudejar, the Renaissance and Romanticism.