If you’re like me, you might only know Seville because of The Barber of Seville. What’s that, you ask? Look, I don’t know either. It’s an opera or something. All I know is the name, and it also used to be the only thing I knew about Seville.
But naturally there is so much more to Seville than a borrowed name in an old Italian opera. The fourth-biggest city in Spain is also the focal point of economy, culture and art in Southern Spain, and the capital of Andalucia, the southernmost region of the country.
Due to its warm weather – I know, it’s shocking that it actually does get cold in Spain – and pleasant atmosphere, it has become the favourite city of many expats and exchange students. (Even though there are relatively few jobs for English speakers, unlike expat hotspots Barcelona and Madrid.) From UNESCO monuments to flamenco, the city has a lot to show for Spanish culture.
Plaza de España
Plaza de España was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American World’s Fair expo; these days the buildings serve mostly as government offices while some of them have been converted into museums.
It is a popular hangout for locals and tourists alike due to its impressive architecture and the large, green gardens that surround it; thus making it one of the best places to people-watch in Seville. If you’re feeling touristy, you can rent a boat and paddle up and down the small canal or get your picture taken with cardboard flamenco dancer cut-outs – but please skip the horse carriages.
Did I also mention that the Plaza is absolutely gorgeous? You know, just in case the pictures don’t do it justice. You won’t be the first or the last wannabe Insta-influencer snapping photos here but hey – it’s for a good reason.
One of the most popular things to see in Seville is the Real Alcazar, which pretty much translates to The Royal Palace.
(Or, like I keep referring to it in my head, “the real Alcatraz”.)
Due to its popularity, you are likely to face long lines and grumpy crowds at the door. Fear not! You can buy tickets on the internet beforehand and download them on your smartphone, and then you get to saunter past the queue like the royal you’d like to think you are.
The palace has been a UNESCO site since 1987, and its upper rooms are still used as a royal residence when the big crowns come to town.
While the Palace complex is quite stunning – consisting of various rooms decorated with detailed, intricate designs – it is most likely to be crowded. For a more peaceful experience, wander around the royal garden. They’ve even got a hedge maze! (Which you realise isn’t nearly as fun as they make it seem in movies when you’re alone instead of whimsically chasing your lover through the twists and turns. Or being seduced b Dracula, depending on which kind of movies you watch.)
Streets of Seville
SO MANY DOORS AND WINDOWS TO PHOTOGRAPH. SO MANY COLOURFUL FACADES. LIKE, WOW.
Or “the setas” (mushrooms), “setas de incarnación” (mushrooms of incarnacion), or “the most controversial building project in Spain.”
Metropol parasol (“city umbrella”) was finished in 2011, “only” four years behind schedule and with a price tag twice as big as planned – the finished construction ended up costing a whopping 100 million euros. It’s claimed to be the biggest wooden structure in the world, and – fun Finland fact! – is build with birch wood imported from Finland.
The structure is the end product of a architectural competition that the city of Seville launched in 2004 to find good use for the land. They had intended to build a parking lot there but after finding old Roman and Moorish ruins on the site, the construction was halted.
Oh, and the fun part is that you can climb the mushrooms! For as little as 2 euros, you can take the elevator up to the top of the structure to see the sunset.
The structure has caused a lot of controversy since people are people and can never agree on anything; in my opinion, though, it is everything but ugly – more like strangely wonderful. What do you think?
Plaza de España (nightsss)
The Seville Cathedral is the third largest cathedral in the world and besides impressive architecture, has the tomb of Christopher Columbus. (Note: Columbus might have been a horrible person who’s largely responsible for the genocide of many Native American tribes, but his tomb is still a cultural curiosity.)
While the entrance to the cathedral costs 9 euros, the inside isn’t all that impressive. That’s why I’d recommend booking the rooftop tour for 15 euros, which includes entrance to the cathedral and the bell tower as well as a guided two-hour tour through the secret passages and rooftops of the cathedral that are otherwise inaccessible to general public.
If you want to do the rooftop tour, book your tickets at least a day in advance. (I mean, they have massive queues, you should probably book any ticket in advance.) Tours are available in English and Spanish, and each group only takes 25 people maximum, so be early!
Views for DAYS, son!
Disclaimer: I only spent two days in Seville, so I can’t claim to be an authority on it. (I literally googled information for this post because I was too lazy to do much research before the trip.)
I didn’t even eat any Spanish food. (Instead I had a zebra burger. It was delicious.) The city is a really dope place to visit though and I’m definitely looking to go there again some time this spring. Maybe for semana santa (Easter – the Spanish go all out!). I’ve heard the party there is really good…