Orange trees. Muslim monuments. Bullfights. Flamenco. Tapas. All synonymous with Seville. Capital of Southern Spain, it is one of the country’s most exciting cities. Stylish, lively and sun-kissed, it is full of narrow streets, small plazas and beautiful parks and gardens. Seville became a great city in Muslim times and became one of the wealthiest cities in Europe during the 16th century when it was an important trading post.
At 160m wide and 140m long, Seville’s cathedral is one of the largest on earth. Constructed on the site of the city’s old mosque in 1507, it was originally built in the Gothic style. When its central dome collapsed in 1511, however, the restoration work was carried out in the Renaissance style. Check out the renowned La Giralda bell-tower, formerly the minaret of the mosque. More than 90m high, its size, decoration and the way in which the light alters its color render it Spain’s most perfect Islamic building. Climb up to the belfry to get an amazing view of the city.
Just inside the cathedral’s south door lies the tomb of Christopher Columbus, whose remains were brought here from Cuba in 1899. Stroll around the Patio de Los Naranjos, home to more than 60 orange trees, just inside the entrance to the cathedral. Don’t miss the breathtaking Alcazar palace, originally built as a fort for the governors of the city in 913. To see work by 17th century Sevillian masters such as Murillo and Zurbaran, head for the Museo de Bellas Artes on Plaza del Museo 9. An elegant former convent, the museum also features work by El Greco and Ribera. The bullring on Paseo de Cristobal Colon is the oldest and most attractive in the country.
Wander around the narrow streets and lanes of the town center or watch the world go by from a café terrace in one of the many plazas. The Plaza de San Francisco is the city’s main public square and was once the site of many an Inquisition burning. Seville’s most upmarket shopping street, the pedestrianized Calle Sierpes, lies to the north of this plaza. Seville is famous for its tapas – small savory dishes served up with your drink. Devote at least one evening of your stay to a tapas crawl around the city’s lively bars. There are numerous bars and restaurants in the Barrio de Santa Cruz, El Centro, and Alameda de Hercules areas. Next morning, take a gentle stroll by the Guadalquivir to recover.