I wasn’t originally planning to visit Seville, but when my plans changed and I ended up back in Spain instead of in Malta, I just could not pass up the opportunity. Prior to visiting I had been planning to one day move to Seville – even though I knew nothing about it. But it is home to a AEFE French school (which my kids attend in Australia), and it is in Andulucia, so I had high hopes that I would love it. And I was right.
We loved absolutely everything about Seville. The dry heat was much more bearable than what we had experienced in Malaga, the city is compact and walkable, and the food…. the food is amazing.
We spent three days in Seville and here is a list of our highlights.
Plaza de Espana
One of my favourite spots for taking photos and having my photo taken was in Plaza de Espana. The plaza was built for Expo 1929 and is a fabulously beautiful and colourful place. The building is large and in a semi circular formation with a tower at either end. The building is in a Moorish style and is covered with the beautiful coloured tiles which Southern Spain is famous for. In front of the building, following the curve of its façade, is a 500-metre canal crossed by four bridges, and in the centre of it all is the Plaza itself.
The plaza is a major tourist attraction, and for good reason, its simply beautiful. Along the outside wall of the building there are 48 little alcloves, each one representing a different region of Spain, complete with maps and illustrations made from the beautiful Spanish tile. I couldn’t resist enlisting my 6 year old to take a series of portraits of me along here.
During our visit as well we were also treated to a live flamenco show, which was ideal for us as I wasn’t able to attend anything happening in the evening with my little ones. The kids, especially my youngest, were entralled by the rapid tapping movements of the dance. My smallest even tried out some moves.
Watch some Flamenco
No one really knows the exact origins of flamenco, but what is beyond dispute is that it originated in Andulucia. Most histories of flamenco document that it began as solely a vocal art form, which was accompanied by rythmic clapping. Later on, the dance and the flamenco guitar also developed.
Flamenco is a deeply passionate art form and is therefore best enjoyed in intimate surroundings. When choosing a venue to watch flemenco, the smaller the better.
Real Alcazar – The Royal Palace of Seville
Located near the cathedral, the royal palace of Seville really can not be missed. Especially is you like Moorish architecture, beautiful painted tiles, and atmospheric gardens. You can easily spend several hours wandering through the shady halls and gardens.
My top tip for visiting Real Alcazar is to buy your ticket online and in advance. The queue to buy tickets at the door is long, and there is no shade outside of the palace. We had to queue for probably about 20 minutes in the sun, which wasn’t super comfortable, but it was all worth the wait.
And if the palace looks a bit familiar to you, it might be because you have seen it on TV. The palace was used as a filming location in Game of Thrones, and was used as the Dornish water gardens.
Seville’s cathedral took over one hundred years to build, is the largest gothic catehdral in the world, is a UNESCO world heritage site and is also the resting place of Christopher Columbus. Surely out of all that you will find a reason to visit!
The Cathedral was built on the site of a former mosque, and the minaret of that mosque still remains and was converted into a bell tower. Walking up the bell tower was the highlight of our visit, and all along the way you are treated to ever improving, but always magnificent, views of the city.
Santa Cruz and the Jewish Quarter
The barrio of Santa Cruz has a long and often troubled history. It was home to much of Seville’s Jewish population, and things were not always friendly between the two sides. Eventually, during the Spanish inquisition, many Jewish families left Spain, and other ended up converting. The history of this area is fascinating, and it worth further reading.
Now the area is more or less a tourist heaven. It’s a beautiful part of town with narrow winding streets which are oh so easy to lose your way in. The area is full of artist studios, cafes, tapas bars, souvineer shops, and flamenco halls. Its an absolute joy to wander and discover what is around each corner.
Our favourite thing in Santa Cruz was by far the tapas bars…. which brings me to my next item of discussion…
Some of the most atmospheric and historic tapas bars are in the Santa Cruz area. When choosing a place for tapas don’t let appearances fool you, even if its a bit dingy, if it’s full of people (locals in particular) then you can be sure it will be good. Many tapas bars are small, so squeeze up at the bar, admire the multitude of handing jamons, and start working your way through the menu.
But take it from me, despite the small portion sizes, the food is often deliciously rich, so it’s best to order a little bit at a time. Don’t let your eyes get too excited!
Discovering tapas is a journey, and one of the best ways to do it is to join a tapas tasting tour, or design your own. Here are a few food blogs which some great suggestions of tapas places in Seville worth checking out – 11 best tapas in Seville and 7 must visit tapas bars.