Table of Contents:
50 things to visit in Seville
Plaza de España's zone:
38. Spain Square (Plaza de España)
The most renowned square in Seville is the massive Spain Square, which was built for the 1929 Ibero-American fair (Expo ’29), along with many of the pavilions in and around the Park of Maria Luisa.
It is in the Spanish Renaissance/Neo-Moorish style, with a diameter of 200 m/ 656 ft and a semi-circle shape. It is surrounded by a row of buildings utilized as government institutions today. The square’s flanks are surrounded by two tall towers. It is 50000 m² (538200 ft²) in size.
The 52 benches and tile mosaics at the foot of the building are noteworthy. All the Spanish provinces are depicted in these frescos. Hence its name, Spain Square. They all have the same layout: the front depicts a historic event, with distinctive monuments on the sides and a map of the province on the ground, flanked by a pair of covered bookshelves with information about that province.
The big fountain in the centre of the square and a 500-meter/ 1640-foot round canal with four cute bridges depicting Spain’s four historical kingdoms: Castille, Aragon, Navarre, and Leon, are other features of the square. You may even charter a boat and sail through the canal, which portrays Spain’s relationship with the colonies in a round-the-world trek across the ocean.
Fun fact 1: The square has been used as a film set for both national films and large blockbusters, such as Manuel and Clemente (1986) and the series Down There (2015-2019). This has served as the British army’s headquarters in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), the backdrop against which troops parade in The Wind and the Lion (1975), the location where Anakin and Padme stroll in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), or a dictator’s palace in The Dictator (2012).
Fun fact 2: There are 48 provinces in total because the Canary Islands only had one at the time, and Seville featured scenes depicting its festivals and customs at the beginning and end of each stretch. Although one appears to be in the wrong position, they appear in alphabetical order. This is because the Navarre alcove was moved to Pamplona years after the square was completed by removing the scene depicting Garcia IV’s death and replacing it with the kingdom’s split. In terms of historical events, the one for Castilla-La Mancha distinguishes out since it features two literary characters, Don Quixote and Sancho.
39. Park of Maria Luisa (Parque de María Luisa)
The 34-hectare/84-acre Maria Luisa Park, opened to the public in 1914, is the city’s most famous and visited park. It is the city of Seville’s principal urban park and one of the city’s most important lungs. It is a perfect spot for locals and visitors to relax in the shade of the trees, take a stroll with loved ones along the trails, or sit and enjoy the thrills of fowls, the Garden of the Lions, or the lovely Frog Fountain.
It consists partly of the gardens of the Saint Telmo Palace, donated to the city of Seville in 1893 by Princess María Luisa (the Duchess of Montpensier).
In 1910, the park was designated as the main venue for the impending Hispano-American Exhibition in 1929. As a result, it began to be developed into a public park in 1912. The Lotuses Roundabout (Glorieta de Los Lotos), the Lions Gardens (Jardín de Los Leones), the Frogs Fountain (Fuente de las Ranas), Spain Square (Plaza de España), and America Square (Plaza de América) were all added, and new buildings such as the Pavilion of King Alfonso XII of Spain, the Mudejar Pavilion, the Royal Pavilion, and the Pavilion of Fine Arts were constructed. Several literary and cultural monuments, such as the Monument to Bécquer, Monument to Cervantes, to Masy Prat and the Hermanos Álvarez Quintero Monument were also erected.
40. America Square (Plaza de América)
Towards the southern end of the Maria Luisa Park, you can find America Square and three of the grandest pavilions, the Neo-gothic Royal, the Neo-renaissance Fine Arts and the Mudejar, the last two of which are now used as museums.
The Royal Pavilion is owned by the Seville City Hall and used for offices.
The Fine Arts Pavilion contains the city’s archaeology collections. The main exhibits are Roman mosaics and artefacts from nearby Italica, along with a unique Phoenician statuette of Astarte-Tanit, the virgin goddess once worshipped throughout the Mediterranean.
The Mudejar Pavilion, on the other hand, houses the Museum of Popular Arts and Customs, with collections of antique lace and tiles, and traditional Andalucian craftsmanship such as tannery, silversmithing and ironwork, with recreated workshops and life-size figures.
Also part of the Square is the Roundabout of Miguel Cervantes (Glorieta de Miguel de Cervantes), adorned with ceramics celebrating his most famous works, as well as those of Rodríguez Marín. It is surrounded by a series of columns joined by chains with globes of light, supporting winged victories.
Admission fees: All EU nationals are entitled to free admission. For the others, it is 1.5€/1.8$.
Personally, I cherish sitting on the delightful tiled benches standing halfway between the Mudejar Pavilion and the Fine Arts one, where you can also find a little, but stunning pound with fine lamps and ceramic pots. I treasure sitting there looking at the beautiful lotus flowers that blossom in the pound, and marvelling at the breathtaking view of the Mudejar Pavilion. That is my favourite spot in all of Seville, no doubt!
41. Queen's Sewing Box (Costurero de la Reina)
The Queen’s Sewing Box is a 19th-century castle-like structure and former sewing retreat for the wife of Spain’s King Alfonso XII.
It is the first neo-Mudejar-style building in Seville with the original name of the Saint Telmo Pavilion. It became more commonly known as the Queen’s Sewing Bow, though, as according to popular gossip queen María de las Mercedes, the queen consort, wife of King Alfonso XII, spent her time sewing within its walls with her ladies, given her delicate state of health. Queen María Mercedes died before the construction of this structure, though, which confirms the legendary nature of the building’s name.
It was the guard’s houses or the retreat pavilion of the garden of the Saint Telmo Palace, today the Maria Luisa Park.
42. Bullfight Arena of the Royal Cavalry Order (Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería)
Disclaimer: I have always refused to visit the Plaza de Toros in Seville or anywhere else in Spain since I am strongly opposed to the practice of harming animals for human’s amusement. Nonetheless, I chose to put it on this list because I understand it is a part of Spanish culture and tradition and might be of some interest to someone of you.
Bullfight Arena of the Royal Cavalry Order, also known as the Bullfight Arena of Seville (Plaza de Toros de Sevilla), is Spain’s largest and most prominent bullfighting arena. It was constructed in the 18th century and has a seating capacity of 14000 people. It boasts a one-of-a-kind Baroque facade.
There is also the Museum of Bullfighting in the Plaza de Toros, which has a hall with bullfighting artwork and various artefacts that depict the history and evolution of bullfighting and bullfighters in Spain.
Several monuments of people who were significant in the history of bullfighting, such as the bullfighter Curro Romero, Manolo Vázquez, and Maria de las Mercedes from Bourbon-Sicily, King Juan Carlos’ mother, are located near the bullfighting arena.
Admission fee: 8 €/9.7 $.
43. Saint Mary Magdalene Church (Real parroquia de Santa María de Magdalena)
The late-18th-century Baroque Saint Mary Magdalene Church was designed to serve a Dominican monastery, and it replaced a medieval structure built following the city’s Christian takeover in 1248. In the 19th century, the convent was closed, and it became a parish church.
There are three portals on the façade, one of which features a sculpture of St. Dominic. An oculus, flanked by two blue spheres symbolizing the mystery of the rosary, and a bell-gable are located above the doors (1697). The church’s entire façade is decorated with a lot of blue and red decorative patterns.
A nave and two aisles, a transept, and five chapels, including the only one from the previous construction, the Hermandad de la Quinta Angustia (Brotherhood of the Fifth Anguish), as well as a presbytery, make up the interior. The nave is topped by an octagonal dome with Inca-like motifs on the exterior. The church’s interior is richly decorated in Baroque style, with stuccoes and gold patina.
La Alameda's zone:
44. Palace of the Marquises of the Algaba (Palacio de los Marqueses de la Algaba)
The Palace of the Marquises of Algaba is one of Seville’s most important palatial mansions, a museum of Mudéjar art with a great collection of cultural goods from the 12th to 20th century, and one of the city’s typical Mudéjar-style palaces.
The palace has a stunning Mudejar-Gothic exterior that has survived to this day. It is one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to the monument’s history of the city. What had previously been the home of one of the Sevillian families with aristocratic descent, the Guzmanes of La Algaba, was on the verge of disappearing due to slow and gradual degradation, pillage, and devastation. After a long period of recuperation, it resurfaced in full force in the early 21st century.
45. Hercules Boulevard (La Alameda de Hércules)
According to legend, Hercules Boulevard was founded in the year 585 by Visigoth King Leovigildo, who diverted the course of the river to punish his son Hermenegildo and his followers for converting to Christianity by denying them river water.
Historically, four columns were to be placed to mark off a promenade through the trees after being dried out by command of the Count of Barajas in the 16th century. The columns were to be removed from the Mármoles street Roman temple, which was said to be dedicated to Hercules.
Two sculptures were put atop the two southern columns: Hercules, the mythological founder of Seville, and Julius Caesar, known as the city’s restorer during Roman authority.
Two further lions with shields, representing Seville and Spain, were added to the northern columns in the second half of the 18th century.
It is regarded as one of Spain’s and Europe’s oldest public promenades. It is now the most popular place in Seville, not only in the old town but across the city. Alameda’s environs are densely packed with artistic and cultural treasures, as well as stores and a diverse gastronomic offering, making it one of the city’s busiest areas.
46. Basilique of the Macarena (Basílica de la Macarena)
The Basilique of the Macarena is a neo-Baroque church dedicated to the Macarena Virgin of Hope (La Virgen de la Esperanza Macarena) that was built in 1949. The Brotherhood of La Esperanza Macarena’s headquarters are here, and the season of penance begins early on Good Friday with the symbols of the María Santísima de la Esperanza Macarena and Nuestro Padre Jesús de la Sentencia.
The temple was granted the title of Minor Basilica by Pope Paul VI in a papal bull dated November 12, 1966, making it the first Sevillian temple to receive this dignity.
It is home to Seville’s most revered religious treasure, the statue of the Macarena Virgin of Hope, known popularly as the Macarena. This magnificent 17th-century statue, a star of the city’s fervent Holy Week celebrations, stands in splendour behind the main altarpiece, adorned with a golden crown, lavish vestments, five flower-shaped diamonds and emerald brooches.
The Museum and Treasure of the Macarena are located next to the church. They house the brotherhood’s vast creative and sentimental inheritance and a comprehensive description of Seville’s famed Holy Week processions. The Virgin of Macarena is the patron saint of bullfighters, hence the museum exhibits numerous interesting artefacts relating to bullfighting.
Free admission to the Basilique. The entry to the Museum and Treasure is 3€ / 4.80$.
47. Macarena Arch (Arco de la Macarena) and Walls of Seville (Muralla de Sevilla)
The Macarena arch, located next to the Macarena Basilica, is one of the four remaining city gates of those who once controlled Seville’s fortifications. The Postigo del Aceite, the Puerta de Córdoba, and the Postigo del Alcázar are the other three.
Although the city’s walled enclosure was built during Julius Caesar’s time in power on the site of a former Carthaginian fortification, the gate dates from a 12th-century extension by Sultan Ali ibn Yusuf, and its current appearance is the result of a remodelling carried out between 1723 and 1795, in which Islamic architectural elements were replaced by the classicist air that now prevails.
It was the gate through which kings entered the city for the first time.
The walls survived until the 19th century when they were substantially dismantled during the 1868 revolution.
Nowadays, the best-preserved stretch is between the Macarena (including the Macarena Arch) and the Cordoba Gate, where some stretches of the walls remain in the district and around the Reales Alcázares.
48. Andalusian Parliament (Parlamento de Andalucía)
Andalusian Parliament is hosted by a very large complex of buildings built in the 16th century that originally served as a hospital, Hospital of the Five Wounds (Hospital de las Cinco Llagas).
The hospital was founded around 1500 in a temporary location near the Pilate’s House, and it was only later that Don Fadrique Enriquez of Ribera, the first Marquis of Tarifa, decided to create a larger hospital on the outskirts near the Macarena Basilique.
The massive edifice, completed in 1613, was designed in the Renaissance style. The structure of the building is built around multiple courtyards, nine of which were originally built, but only eight remain now. A gate created in the Spanish Baroque style in the central south wing leads directly to the hospital church, which dominates the centre courtyard. Today, the church is utilized for parliamentary meetings.
The hospital was closed in the 1960s, sitting unused until 1992 when it was refurbished to serve as the seat of the Andalusian Parliament. A modern garden featuring a Hercules statue, erected for the 1992 Universal Exhibition, is located in front of the parliament building.
Free admission from Monday to Friday, except for July and August, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., if the parliamentary activities do not prevent it.
49. Church of Saint Lawrence (Parroquia de San Lorenzo)
The origins of the temple date back to the 13th century, although the oldest remains date from the 14th century.
Here, two Spanish brotherhoods have their headquarters, and the church itself is representative of the Gothic-Mudejar style.
Subsequent reforms in the 18th and 19th centuries, though, greatly altered the original style of the church.
Left Bank of the Guadalquivir zone:
50. Island of the Carthusians (Isla de la Cartuja)
The name of the island comes from a cloistered monastery (Cartuja) on the site, the 15th-century Monastery of Saint Mary of the Caves (Monasterio de Santa María de las Cuevas), where Christopher Columbus stayed while planning his westward voyage, and which is known to all Sevillians as the Carthusian monastery of Seville.
The Expo ’92 was held here. Before 1992, the island was completely cut off from the rest of the world by two branches of the Guadalquivir River. It was connected to the mainland by a wide isthmus in the south with Triana neighbourhood after the river channel system was rearranged for Expo ’92.
The former island is connected by notable bridges, such as the Calatrava designed Alamillo Bridge and Barqueta Bridge. Among other infrastructures and buildings located on the island, such as the Cartuja 93 park, a research and development complex, the Cartuja Olympic Stadium, University Schools of Engineering and Communications, the Triana Tower (Torre Triana), an administrative building of the Andalusian Regional Government, the modern Seville Tower (Torre Sevilla), the tallest building in Seville surrounded by the Magellan Park (Parque Magallanes), the Pavilion of Navigation, the Pavilion of the Future (Pabellón del Futuro), the Pavilion of Morocco (Pabellón de Marruecos), the Andalusian Contemporary Art Center (Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo) and the American Garden (Jardín Americano), a public botanic garden. Additionally, the Island of the Carthusians houses several discothèques, and a number of concert halls and theatres, as well as the amusement park Magic Island (Isla Mágica).
As already said, a strong bond ties me to this stunning city and I cannot help but feel excited and astonished every time I think or speak about it.
Writing and researching for this piece has undoubtedly reawakened that nostalgic feeling I have had since the moment I left in 2016.
Seville is an incredible city, unrivalled to my eyes by any other.
Leaving aside my personal perception, I hope this series of articles has been of some use to you to better understand why I am consistently extolling the virtues of Seville, and that they have guided you to perceive the same awe-inspiring beauty that my own eyes have seen in it since the first sight.
Enjoy wonderful Seville!
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