As the capital of Andalucia, Seville does not disappoint; although I personally think that the number of sights isn’t varied enough for a city with such an extensive history. Perhaps the reason is simply due to so much being built on or buried under; and we can’t see it. So, 2 days in Seville is plenty of time to take in all the key sights.
Seville was constructed by the Moors, Visigoths and then Christians, who all superseded the Romans. There a lot of mixed architecture as a result this. For example, the Giralda tower, which is attached to the cathedral, has a Roman base and then is predominantly Moorish up to the level of the bell tower. Originally it had a dome which has more recently been replaced, with the bells that now reside there.
The climate in Seville during the summer months can reach temperatures of 55°C. So a visit in spring or autumn is recommended unless you like it hot.
The city consists of maze like alleyways facing in all directions, probably built to vary the shade/sun ratio throughout the day. Here’s my recommendations for how to spend 2 days in Seville. Just make sure to take your time, especially in the heat of summer.
Day 1 – walking tour and some key sights
I always recommend taking a walking tour the first day in a city, to get your bearings and a good overview. I would recommend panchotours.com which gives a great overview.
When you think of Seville, football or oranges perhaps, spring to mind first?
Spain winning the world cup in 2010 resulted in Seville hitting the headlines … for the partying/riots. Most of these took place in Puerta de Jerez (Jerez Gate). Apparently this is also when the head was knocked off the statue in the fountain that is now where the Jerez Gate once stood. Today this is a good central meeting point between the old and the new areas of the city.
I was told that the oranges here are renowned by the locals for being bitter. Despite this, those that grow at the cathedral are picked each year and sent to the queen of England to make her marmalade! Whether the latter is true or not, I refrained from tasting them…
After the tour, it’s a good idea to pick out a couple of sights to visit fully.
The 3rd largest in Europe. St Peter and St Paul were incorporated into the walls on the East side, by the Pope. This was apparently to remind the people of the Vatican in Rome (largest cathedral) and St Pauls cathedral in London (second largest).
Situated within the cathedral. This tower is somewhere between 97 and 105 metres, depending on which guide or guidebook you refer to. I had anticipated a lot of steps to climb. Fortunately there is just a ramp, consisting of 35 corridors. This was designed to accommodate a mule or horse to transport the poor guy who had to call everyone to prayer 5 times a day. The views are of course worth it, and the ramp really does make it easier.
Plaza de Espana
Our walking tour ended here, so it was great to be able to spend more time wandering around. Although during the middle of the day it can get hot, fortunately there is plenty of shade and even the chance to take a boat trip.
The arches represent each province of Spain and the bridges represent the kingdoms. Nowadays this building houses the town hall/immigration office. It has been the set for Star Wars Episode 2, city of Theed in Naboo (check out YouTube). The Arabian army’s palace in Laurence of Arabia also features this place. More recently it featured in The Dictator – the trailer still has a Spanish flag in it which was overlooked during editing?
Day 2 – Real Alcazar and Plaza de la Encarnacion
You need a good couple of hours to take in the Real Alcazar fully, especially if you enjoy wandering around gardens. Head there in the morning when it’s cooler and early when it’s less busy. Entry on Monday’s is free but also extremely popular.
The palace has been the home of many Muslim and Christian kings. With beautiful and extensive decor which varies from the Moorish decorative arches to the more simple Christian coverings and is often a mishmash of both.
Game of Thrones fans will enjoy a visit here particularly to check out many of the locations of scenes from the series.
Depending on how long you end up spending at the Alcazar, there may be time for something in the afternoon, take your pick from anything else in the city as you make on your way over to the Metropol Parasol.
Located in Plaza de la Encarnacion is the wooden structure (Metropol Parasol), created from 3,500 sections of wood. Underground is a very interesting archaeological site. It shows life in both Roman and Moorish times, and shares a little of the life below the city.
At sunset the viewpoint is a great place to watch over the city.
In the evening, check out a Flamenco show – there are quite a few to choose from, some good recommendations in this post.