Travel Guide to Seville

Seville and its Unique Color

Located on the banks of the Guadalquivir, Seville is the capital of Andalusia. This popular tourist destination in our travel guide, is a city that has a lot to offer. Sun, warmth, culture, festivals… the list goes on!

Plan your visit to Seville

There are numerous traces of the rich Arab past of the city and its function as a port for the commerce with America. As the business center of southern Spain, Seville offers several hotels that are distributed over the entire city. With over 600,000 inhabitants, Seville is a city with both a cultural and international diversity. It is an older, more traditional environment, such as La Macarena neighborhood or the famous Triana. Seville is a big city, the recommendation in this travel guide is to stay 4 days. We recommend this to visit the most important monuments and places. In this travel guide we will talk about the major attractions in Seville, the culture, and nightlife. Along with a few places to eat, sleep, and when to visit the city. Let´s get started!

Do you want to visit this place?

After the Roman conquest of Spal or Ispal and the creation of the Roman Hispalis, from 49 BC it had walls, a forum (under the current Plaza de la Alfalfa) and a port with docks, becoming one of the most important in Hispania. The penetration of the Christian religion led to the martyrdom of the sisters Justa and Rufina, the current patron saints of Seville, in the 3rd century.

In 426 it was taken over by the Vandal King Gunderico, who began a period of barbaric invasions that would culminate in Visigothic rule. During this period, Seville stood out as a cultural centre thanks to San Isidoro, who was born there in 560 and has been included in the city’s coat of arms.

In the year 712 the conquest of Muza took place, extending the Muslim rule for five centuries. The enclave was then called Isbiliya, becoming the most important city in Al-Andalus. In the 11th century the Taifa king Almutamid the Poet added splendour; the Almoravids (11th-12th centuries) and Almohads (12th-13th centuries) would make up the physiognomy of its historic centre, which is still preserved; the Giralda, the Torre del Oro and the Alcázar are from those centuries.

After fifteen months of siege, in 1248 the Castilian monarch Ferdinand III, canonized in the 17th century, managed to obtain the surrender of Isbiliya; this king would remain there until his death, being the first to be buried in its Cathedral. His son, Alfonso X the Wise, wrote a large part of his chronicles from the Reales Alcázares (currently El Real Alcázar), giving the town the motto NO8DO (“he has not left me” in reference to the town’s loyalty to this king) which appears on many buildings.

There was a Jewish aljama in the current Santa Cruz quarter, suffering dramatic events, such as the Black Death of 1348 or the anti-Jewish riot of 1391.

After the Discovery of America, in 1492, the Catholic Monarchs founded the Casa de Contratación, from which they directed and booked trips, controlled the wealth coming in from America and, together with the Mercaderes University, regulated relations with the New World.

During the 16th century Seville consolidated itself as the main port for trade with England, Italy and Flanders. The profits achieved allowed the construction of some of the most important buildings in the historical centre, which became multicultural due to the immigrants, which would help the artistic flourishing during the Spanish Golden Age. Soap, wool, silk and pottery workshops were the highlights.

Old image of a street market in the Plaza de la Alfalfa

At the same time as its most brilliant artistic moment, the Baroque, the crisis of the century of the Monarchy, during the 17th century, caused an economic and demographic decline, while navigation on the Guadalquivir became increasingly difficult, until the commercial monopoly and its institutions were moved to Cádiz. In 1649 the city suffered from a plague that killed around 60,000 people, almost half the population.

In the 18th century the new Fábrica de Tabacos (Tobacco Factory) appeared, an industrial building that was the scene of the adventures of Carmen la Cigarrera, who became world famous thanks to the opera Carmen de Bizet. Several other operas have been set in this city, such as Verdi’s The Force of Destiny and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. Seville has long been of interest to European artists, especially during the Romantic period, when the capital was seen as a picturesque place full of Moorish charm. This romantic impulse coincided with a process of revitalization of the city, developed throughout the second half of the nineteenth century by the arrival of the railway, and the demolition of part of the walls.

In this second tour of the centre of Seville, we start from the Reales Alcázares to visit the many churches and convents scattered throughout the old Jewish quarter and the rest of the historic centre of Seville.

After passing through the Plaza de Elvira (a secluded area planted with orange trees where Lope de Rueda performed his first comedies), we stop in front of the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes (1675), now the headquarters of the Focus Abengoa Foundation. The frescoes on its dome, by Valdés Leal, the paintings on its walls by Lucas Valdés and the simple main altarpiece, together with numerous canvases by the best artists of the Sevillian Baroque, such as Martínez Montañés and Pedro Roldán, are particularly noteworthy.

From here, the centre of Seville spreads out like a labyrinth of narrow streets, small squares and corners of the old Jewish quarter, organised around three synagogues now replaced by the parishes of Santa Cruz, Santa María la Blanca and San Bartolomé. We go first to the Plaza de Santa Cruz, with its gardens and abundant orange trees, which has a cross in its center, known as de la Cerrajería. The square was built after the 1391 riot and Murillo was buried there in 1692. The temple was demolished in 1810 by the French, and the remains of the Sevillian painter are lost, and it is assumed that they are still under the pavement of the square. Very close by is the Museo Casa de Murillo, with works from the time of this famous artist.

Inside the baroque Church of Santa Cruz (1665-1728) we can admire the magnificent Cristo de las Misericordias. In the lively Plaza de Santa María la Blanca, we find the Puerta de la Carne (belonging to the Saracen wall) and the Church of Santa María la Blanca, whose appearance dazzles the visitor with its three very low naves, separated by semicircular arches on Tuscan columns of red marble and a barrel vault. The transept is covered with a dome of half an orange on pendentives and the walls are decorated with baroque plasterwork; the high tile base and the exceptional painting of Murillo’s Holy Supper attract attention.

Casa Pilatos

Following Levíes Street we will arrive at San Bartolomé Church, a neoclassical oratory that houses the Baroque Capilla del Sagrario (1650) with several remarkable sculptures. At the end of the same street is the Convento de la Madre de Dios, in whose temple the low choir and the recumbent statues in red marble of the widow and daughter of the conqueror of Mexico, Hernán Cortés, stand out.

Around the Plaza de San Ildefonso is the Casa de Pilatos, a sixteenth-century palace in Mudejar, Renaissance and Baroque styles, arranged around courtyards and gardens. The palace was the centre of 16th century Seville culture and is still owned by the Dukes of Medinaceli. Next to it stands the Convento de San Leandro (16th and 17th centuries) whose church holds important works: the main altarpiece (1748), the altarpiece of San Agustín by Francisco de Ribalta (1650) and the reliefs of San Juan Evangelista en Patmos and San Juan Bautista, both outstanding works by Martínez Montañés. Opposite is the Church of San Ildefonso (1794-1841) with a spectacular facade framed by two symmetrical towers.

It has three naves and a transept, separated by semicircular arches on very thick pillars. We highlight its Virgen del Coral, a mural painting from the 14th century, and the Cristo de Medinaceli, for which the Sevillians feel great devotion. At number 22 of Aguilas Street is the Convento de Santa María de Jesús (1502), of which only its small single-nave temple with high and low choirs at its feet can be visited, full of charm and mystery, especially when the nuns pray the rosary. We highlight its beautiful Mudejar coffered ceiling and the numerous images by Pedro Roldán and his daughter La Roldana. The lively Plaza de la Alfalfa is very close, also the Morería street, which marks the area of the Muslim community after the Christian conquest.

The Plaza de la Encarnación, urbanised in the 16th century, takes its name from a former monastery; its space now houses the Metropol Parasol, an eye-catching structure in the shape of six large mushrooms designed by the German Jürgen Mayer.

The minaret-shaped tower of the Mudejar Church of Santa Catalina indicates that it was converted from a mosque after the Christian conquest. Its Capilla Sacramental, with profuse Baroque plasterwork, is one of the most beautiful in Seville. Of great artistic importance are also the Cristo del Perdón, made by Pedro de Campaña in 1546; the Cristo de la Exaltación, by Pedro Roldán and the Virgen de las Lágrimas, by the aforementioned Roldana. In the nearby Santa María Coronel street is the Santa Inés Convent, where the legend Maese Pérez, the organist of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, is set, as well as the Palacio de las Dueñas, owned by the Casa de Alba, in one of whose houses the poet Antonio Machado was born and spent part of his childhood with his brother, also a writer, Manuel.

Following Sol and Enladrillada streets you will reach the Santa Paula Monastery. The temple, with a single nave covered by a wooden frame built in 1623, houses remarkable works by Alonso Cano and Martínez Montañés; it also has an excellent museum with a magnificent collection of paintings and sacred objects, including gold and silver work from different periods and schools. Very close by is the Convent of Santa Isabel, whose church has one of the most ostentatious doorways in Seville and contains the spectacular Cristo de la Misericordia (1622) by Juan de Mesa.

From here we can go to the Church of San Hermenegildo (17th century), and then go to the famous Arco de la Macarena, reformed in the 18th century, in baroque style, on the Almohad wall that includes seven square towers and one octagonal one. Next to the arch is the Basílica Menor de la Macarena (1949), home of the Queen of Seville: the image of Esperanza Macarena, located in the alcove of the high altar. There is also the Señor de la Sentencia processional walkway (1654). And outside the wall, in front of the arch and behind the gardens, is the Hospital de las Cinco Llagas (16th century), the seat of the Parliament of Andalusia.

Along San Luis Street we go to the Jesuit Church of San Luis de los Franceses (1699), one of the most beautiful in Seville; it has a Greek cross floor plan crowned by a half-orange dome and is decorated in a variegated Baroque style. Very close by is the Omnium Sanctorum Church, built over a mosque, with a beautiful brick tower decorated with sebka lace; inside it the Cristo de la Buena Muerte (1592) is venerated. In the bustling Calle Feria where the bullfighter Juan Belmonte, who would revolutionize the world of bullfighting in the first third of the twentieth century, is located the Market there is also the traditional Thursday market.

The Alameda de Hércules was designed in the 16th century and remodelled in the 19th century. More than 1,700 trees were planted there and two Roman columns from the temple in Calle Mármoles and two statues, of Hercules and Julius Caesar, were placed there. Nearby lived the bullfighter Joselito el Gallo.

Taking Calatrava Street we will arrive at the Convent of San Clemente, founded by Alfonso X the Wise and reformed in the 16th and 18th centuries; at present it serves as an exhibition hall and the church preserves numerous works of great interest. Then we continue to the Church of San Lorenzo, Mudejar of the 14th century and reformed in the 18th and 19th centuries; it keeps a magnificent altarpiece by Martínez Montañés and beautiful processional images. Next to it, and forming a corner in the square, is the Church of Jesus del Gran Poder built in 1965 to house the image of the Gran Poder (created by Juan de Mesa in 1620) which is the most venerated in Seville. On both sides of the Christ are the Virgen del Mayor Dolor y Traspaso (anonymous from the eighteenth century) and San Juan Evangelista, also by Juan de Mesa.

We conclude our visit through the center of Seville and the old town in the indispensable Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla, second art gallery in Spain after the Museo del Prado. It is installed in the Real Convento Casa Grande de Nuestra Señora de la Merced y Redención de Cautivos (18th century). Its collection includes canvases by Lucas Cranach, El Greco, Alonso Cano, Velázquez, Murillo, Juan de Roelas, Zurbarán and Juan de Valdés Leal. If we travel to the capital during Easter week we will improve even more such an impressive experience.

When to visit Seville

It is said that Seville has a specific and unique color. The main reason for this is that it enjoys a large quantity of light throughout the year. In our travel guide we will talk about Seville´s seasons and why you can visit year round.

  • Spring is the best season to visit the city, because of the mild weather. Another reason to visit Seville during spring time is the celebration of important holidays. Such as the Holy Week and the famous Feria de Abril.
  • Summer is the hottest season to visit Sevilla without a doubt. During summer you can participate in several activities that only occur in this season. Such as the summer concerts hosted in the Alcazar Palace. An advantage is that during summer the days are longer and consequently you have more time to explore the city.
  • During autumn it is a very cozy time to visit Sevilla. This is due to the weather still being warm, but not as much as summer. Another reason is that the days remain longer. This season brings the first rain showers and after that, it slowly starts to get cold.
  • Winter time means that the days in Sevilla are shorter, which limits the time during the day to explore. Though an advantage of this season is that the city shines in a special way. Winter is the ideal season for those looking for tranquility. Spain is very rich in its traditions and celebrations, which make Christmas a very pleasant time to visit and use our travel guide.

Must-see...

Hercules in front of the Cinco Llagas Hospital
Mushroom Monument

Useful Information

Coordinates

37° 23′ 0″ N, 5° 59′ 0″ W

Distances

Málaga 219 km, Córdoba 139 km, Huelva 93 km, Cádiz 123, Madrid 541 km


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