Seville Travel Guide


Located between the Jardines de Murllio and the Cathedral, the Alcazar or Royal Palace in Seville is still a vacation spot for the King and Queen. Construction first began under Abd Al Ramán III in the early 10th century it is one of the best examples of mudéjar architecture in Seville. Later additions included those by Pedro the Cruel with the aid of Moorish craftsmen. The grounds and gardens around the building are an important part of the visit. If you're not able to make it to Granada to see the Alhambra make sure you stop here.

Antigua Fabrica de Tabacos
It may be part of the Universidad de Sevilla (Seville University) now, but the massive old tobacco factory used to be the cornerstone of the city's economy. The workplace of Bizet's operatic heroine Carmen was built in the 18th century and fed the nation's nicotine addiction right up until the mid-20th century. The neoclassical-styled building is impressive, if a little gloomy. It occupies the largest area of any building in Spain except El Escorial, the great palace-monastery near Madrid. At one stage the tobacco factory had stables for 400 mules, its own jail and even a nursery (most of the workers were women).

Archivo de Indias
The great architect of Philip II's El Escorial, Juan de Herrera, was also the architect of this building next to the cathedral, originally the Lonja (Stock Exchange). Construction on the Archivo General de Indias lasted from 1584 to 1646. In the 17th century it was headquarters for the Academy of Seville, which was founded in part by the great Spanish artist Murillo. In 1785, during the reign of Charles III, the building was turned over for use as a general records office for the Indies. That led to today's Archivo General de Indias, said to contain some four million antique documents, even letters exchanged between patron Queen Isabella and explorer Columbus (he detailing his discoveries and impressions). These very rare documents are locked in air-conditioned storage to keep them from disintegrating. Special permission has to be acquired before examining some of them. On display in glass cases are fascinating documents in which the dreams of the early explorers come alive again.

Barrio de Santa Cruz
The Barrio de Santa Cruz dates back almost 800 years, and is now one of the most interesting and pleasant parts of Seville. The area east of the cathedral and Alcázar was Seville's medieval Jewish quarter juderia). Today it's a tangle of quaint, winding streets and lovely squares with flowers and orange trees. The juderia came into existence after the Christian Reconquista (re-conquest) of Seville in 1248 and was brutally emptied by a pogrom in 1391.

Basílica de la Macarena
If you're not in Seville for Semana Santa, you can get an inkling of what it's all about at this 1940s church, which is home to the most adored religious image in all of Andalucía, the 17th-century Virgen de la Esperanza (Hope) sculpture.

Catedral and Giralda
The third largest cathedral in the world, behind only St. Peters in Rome and St. Paul's in England. The Cathedral does hold the record as the largest gothic building in the world, which you're sure to see when visiting. This is the most visited site in Seville. Construction began in 1401 on the grounds of the center mosque constructed during Arab occupation. The Patio de Naranjos and the main section of the Giralda are the only structures remaining from the mosque. The climb up the Giralda, approximately 70 meters, is made easier with the absence of stairs. Instead a series of ramps leads you to the top for a perfect view of the city. Inside are works of by Murillo, Goya, Pedro de Campaña and Luis de Vargas. Sculpture includes works by Martinez Montañés. The tomb of Columbus is said to be located here as well, a disputed claim which may soon be known as fact when the FBI finishes DNA analysis of the remains.

El Centro
Seville's true center stretches north of the Catedral. It's a densely packed zone of narrow, crooked streets, broken up here and there by plazas around which the life of the city has revolved for eons. Highlights include the Plaza de San Francisco & Calle Sierpes, the city's principal public square since the 16th century; the Plaza Salvador, dominated by the huge red baroque Parroquia del Salvador church; the animated though traffic-infested Plaza de la Alfalfa; and the noble Casa de Pilatos mansion, an intriguing mix of mudéjar, Gothic and Renaissance architecture.

Museo Arqueológico
The Archaeological Museum has some 27 exhibition rooms and includes pieces from the nearby Roman settlement of Italica. Pieces represent the diverse culture, people and history of Andalucia, including items from Tartessan civilization and much further back to prehistoric times.

Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares
Across from the Archeological Museum in Parque Maria Luisa, the Museum of Arts and Customs contains an impressive collection of decorative arts and traditional dress/clothing. Objects from everyday life as well as an exhibition of Feria posters also make it a worthwhile visit.

Torre del Oro
Located on the Guadalquivir River and dating back to the 13th century, the top of the Torre del Oro was once covered in gold tiles which reflected in the sunlight, making the tower a visible fixture in Seville. During the Arab occupation it served as main point of defense and control of the river. The Torre del Oro now houses the local maritime museum.

Plaza de toros de la real Maestranza
The Plaza de Toros was constructed over several decades during the 18th century and is one of the most famous venues in all of Spain to take in a bullfight. The season typically begins with the Feria de Abril, during which there is a corrida every day, and runs through September. When buying tickets take your choice of sol (cheaper), sombra (expensive) and sol y sombra (middle range) seats. The museum includes statues of famous bullfighters, posters and other memorabilia as well as a gift shop.

Casa de Pilatos
This 16th-century Andalusian palace of the dukes of Medinaceli recaptures the splendor of the past, combining Gothic, Mudéjar, and Plateresque styles in its courtyards, fountains, and salons. According to tradition, this is a reproduction of Pilate's House in Jerusalem. Don't miss the two old carriages or the rooms filled with Greek and Roman statues. The collection of paintings includes works by Carreño, Pantoja de la Cruz, Sebastiano del Piombo, Lucas Jordán, Batalloli, Pacheco, and Goya. The museum's first floor is seen by guided tour only, but the ground floor, patios, and gardens are self-guided. The palace is about a 7-minute walk northeast of the cathedral on the northern edge of Barrio Santa Cruz, in a warren of labyrinthine streets whose traffic is funneled through the nearby Calle de Aguilas.

Hospital de la Caridad
The church shown to the left dates back to the 17th century and the building still serves it's purpose as a refuge for the ill and less fortunate. The house was provided by the wife of don Miguel de Mañara, a wealthy Sevillano, after his death. Works inside include two paintings from Juan de Valdés Leal as well as the intricate altarpiece work by Pedro Roldán.

Birthplace of Roman emperors Trajan and Adrian Italica is a 15 minute bus ride from Seville in the pueblo of Santiponce. The amphitheater is the most important site of the ruins. You're also able to walk the old streets as you tour the ruins of houses, public buildings and various objects of art. Many of the pieces can now be found in the Museo Arqueológico or within the palaces and homes of the aristocracy in Seville. Columns supporting the Giralda were also taken from the ruins of Italica.

Reales Atarazanas
Located next door to the Hospital de La Caridad the Royal Shipyards used to house munitions and artillery for the Spanish Navy. Inside it's fairly empty except for a few exhibits and explanations in the back. Worth a stop when next door at the Hospital de los Venerables, and the rows and rows of arches make for some cool pictures.

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