10 Best Attractions in Seville Spain That You MUST SEE
Mythology suggests that Seville in Spain was founded by Hercules. Of course, though we don’t know how much of that is indeed true, what we can certainly understand is that the city has existed for a very long time, and its origin can be traced back to the 8th century BC. Julius Caesar also occupied this region, and one can gain more insight into the lives, times and events associated with the historic personalities who ruled here, during a trip to Seville.
With Columbus discovering America, Seville saw a glorious golden age during the early 15th century, when it served as the main port which connected the rest of Europe to the New World. There has been a mix of rulers with different religious beliefs who have ruled over this region, translating to the diverse presence and mix of art, architectural and cultural styles ‐ the remnants and results of which can still be seen today. Therefore, it comes across as no surprise that there are a bevy of tourist attractions in Seville that make for a visitor’s delight and travelling to the city is like having a tryst with fantasy and time.
Best Seville Attractions
1. Royal Alcázar of Seville
One of the most exquisite examples of Mudéjar architecture, the Alcázar of Seville serves as the residence for the royal family of Spain, apart from being among the top attractions of the city. The beautiful blend of Roman, English, Moorish and the Portuguese touch, which one notices in the premises, is a captivating sight for visitors.
The origin of the Alcázar can be traced back to the Almohads, the dynasty which ruled over Seville during the 12th century. Over the course of the next hundreds of years, the palace saw a lot of extended constructions, which amalgamated to make the Alcázar what it is today. King Pedro (the cruel) also made significant additions to the palace during his reign.
The gardens in the palace, with their numerous fountains, are a wonderful space to spend time and soak in the beautiful ambience. The evening concerts held in the sprawling garden are something that you shouldn’t miss.
Among the points of interests in the palace is the Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla, an underground tank that collected rain water. There is an interesting story behind this particular area, it is said that that Pedro (the cruel) pursued a woman so vigorously that she disfigured herself by burning and then turned into a nun. The rain water tanks took its name her.
2. La Giralda
Flickr/Mario Modesto Mata
The Giralda Seville has held the record of being the tallest religious structure ever to have been built in the world. The tower dates back to 1184, when the Almohad Caliphate built it as a beacon for their religion, Islam. The site experienced the effects of an earthquake in 1356 and major renovations were carried out during that time.
The structure around the bell tower was torn down by Christians and a cathedral was built in its place in 1402, the construction of which took a hundred years. Ramps leading to the top of the tower give visitors an enchanting view of Seville. One can see the tomb of Columbus at the very entrance of the cathedral. A golden box, said to contain the remains of Columbus, is also present at the site.
3. Cathedral of Seville
Like you read above, the site where the Cathedral of Seville stands today originally had a mosque built on it by the Moors in the 12th century. When the Christians ousted and took over the region in the 15th century, the mosque was torn down and a cathedral was built in its place.
Today, it is the third largest cathedral after St Paul’s Cathedral in London and the Basilica in Rome. The words inscribed on the church also reads as “we shall build such a large church that those who will see it finished will consider us crazy’. Paintings by famous Spanish creators can be seen on the interior walls of the church.
There are also the tombs of various kings and queens, belonging to the times in which the cathedral was built, as well as that of Christopher Columbus, the famous voyager. The altarpiece of the church is also an item of intrigue for one to learn more about. It was worked on for forty four years in order to be completed.
4. Maria Luisa Park
The Maria Luisa Park in Seville is the perfect place to cool off on a hot day, and provides a soothing and serene experience for visitors. The park, which is located along the Guadalquivir River, features aesthetic decoration in the form of ceramic benches, fountains, statues and monuments. The Water Lily Pool and Fountain of Lions inside the park are two of the prettiest attractions here. The iconic Plaza de España is also located inside the Maria Luisa Park.
5. Plaza de España
The Plaza de España in Maria Luisa Park is a major point of interest for tourists in Seville. Aníbal González is the main architect behind the design of this plaza. It was built to hold the Ibero-American Exposition in the year 1929. The planning was executed so meticulously that the whole construction started twenty years before the actual event.
The huge half circle complex of the Plaza de España, with its buildings, bridges and canals, was constructed in a style that was a blend of Neo Mudéjar and Art Deco architecture, and each of the bridges respectively represents the ancient kingdoms of the country.
The beauty of the plaza has also been captured on celluloid many times, and the iconic place has been featured in many Hollywood movies, like Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars Episode I & II as well as the Dictator. The Vincente Traver Fountain at the centre of the plaza makes for a pretty sight and a good photo opportunity.
6. Museum of Fine Arts of Seville
Once a monastery, the exhibition hall of the Museum of Fine Arts of Seville today houses the finest and priceless creations of art made by artists of Spain. The artists, whose works are found in this museum, like Murillo, El Greco and Velázquez, date from the middle ages.
The building itself has an interesting tale associated with it. The monks in the monastery used to take ransom money for freeing the Christians, who were prisoners of the Muslim rulers of the time. In the process the monks gathered a huge amount of wealth, until they were expelled from the premises in 1852. The traces of the monastery and its inhabitants can still be seen in the building and the courtyards. The dome of the building is another interesting piece of art from Domingo Martinez, a famous painter of his time.
7. General Archive of the Indies
Documents and artefacts that tell the story of Columbus and his discovery of America, as well as the colonisation of the country by Spain, are stored in the building of the General Archives of the Indies. The importance of the building cannot be measured by any amount of currency and it was declared a heritage building by UNESCO.
Until 1785, the record of the various colonies under the Spanish crown was maintained at three independent places. However, King Charles III of Spain decided to collect all of them under one central place and this building was selected. Seville was the main port from which all major trade transaction took place during that period and therefore the spot was selected for keeping central records of Spanish history.
There are documents held in this museum that has the original hand writing of the respective authors, like that of Christopher Columbus and Hernán Cortés, the Spanish Conquistador.
8. Metropol Parasol
This marvel does not go back that long in the annals of Spanish history, it is rather an example of modern spectacular architecture that the Spanish are capable of. It is an artistic structure made of concrete, steel and timber with a polyurethane coating, held together with glue. The glue is of a special type and is able to withstand the high temperature that Spain faces during its hot seasons.
There is an interesting tale behind the creation of the Parasol as initially it was planned to be an underground parking spot. During the digging phase, remains of Roman times were noticed and the plan was changed to create a museum to accommodate the Roman finds.
The new construction was started in 2004 but came to a halt due to technical issues. It was after many years of stalled progress that a breakthrough was achieved in the design of the structure. The project was completed in 2011 with a huge over draft of the cost estimates. However, today the structure is an icon for visitors to go to, and makes up for all the high costing that went into its construction.
9. Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold)
Located close to the river bank, the Torre del Oro is a spot where one can experience the pinnacles of panoramic beauty, especially needed for photo shoots, which makes the place a joy for visitors. The structure itself dates back to the 13th century and was built by the Almohades to serve as a watch tower. The tower was linked to another tower and formed a guard over the city and its residents, under the rule of Abu Eola.
There was another tower across the river bank and a chain used to be attached between the two. Raising the chain used to block the passage of ships into the river. When Christians recaptured the region from the Moors, the tower was used as a prison.
There are quite a few reasons that have been put forth, as far as the term Oro or Gold is used in association with the tower. One of them is that the ceramic tiles that decorated the walls of the tower gave the impression of gold in its glitter. There are many other stories associated with this aspect and one can revel in these interesting aspects during a visit here. Today the tower serves as the Naval Museum and houses a large number of priceless artefacts.
10. Archaeological Museum of Seville
The Archaeological Museum of Seville was constructed as part of the preparation of the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition held in Spain. The museum depicts the times of the Roman era and also pre-historic ages. There is a Carambalo Treasure in the museum which belongs to the Phoenician era, seen in Seville during the 6th century.
Gold artefacts like bracelets, necklaces etc were found in 1958, when digging near the area, for the construction of a sports club, was going on. The items give an indication into what sort of people lived during those ages, which is particularly insightful because there are no solid traces of those people in records. With its many interesting collections and curios, the Archaeological Museum is a must visit place for tourists in Seville.