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Things to Do in Seville

In Seville, the sun-drenched capital of Spain’s Andalucia province, flamenco dancing, Moorish history, and tapas comprise the blood that runs through the city’s veins. Within Seville’s historic heart lies the palatial Real Alcázar and Seville Cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece and UNESCO World Heritage Site topped by the Giralda Tower (El Giraldillo); and on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, the Roman Torre de Oro (Golden Tower), and Triana neighborhood exude authentic Andalucian culture. The Santa Cruz Jewish quarter, historic El Arenal, and grandiose Plaza de España are ideal locations for walking tours, while hop-on hop-off bus tours are a convenient and cost-effective way to discover Seville’s dispersed highlights. At night, combine a ‘tablao flamenco’ (flamenco show) with tapas, wine, and a sightseeing tour for a great cultural introduction to Andalucia, or discover Spain through its wine with a guided tasting session. For travelers wishing to explore more of Andalucia, Cadiz, Cordoba, Jerez, and Granada—home to architectural masterpieces such as the rose-tinted Alhambra palace complex, the Arab Baths (Hammam Al Andalus), and the Mezquita—are popular day trip destinations. Other must-visit spots within easy reach of Seville include Tangier in Morocco, Gibraltar, the White Villages (Pueblos Blancos), and Ronda, with its ancient bullring.
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Royal Alcázar of Seville (Real Alcázar de Sevilla)
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Sights across the entire Spanish south have been shaped by centuries of Moorish and Catholic influence, and in few places is this more evident and captivating than at the Royal Alcázar of Seville (Real Alcázar de Sevilla). This UNESCO World Heritage Site’s sprawling complex is made up of several features; the most picturesque is arguably the Patio de las Doncellas, with its tranquil ponds that reflect the intricate mudéjar plasterwork for which the palace is especially noted.

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Plaza de España
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Designed for the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929, Seville’s grandiose Plaza de España is a semicircular public square brimming with brick and tile fountains, canals, and foot bridges, giving it the nickname Venice of Seville. Renaissance and neo-Moorish towers sit at either end of the plaza, which is situated within Maria Luisa Park.

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Seville Cathedral (Catedral de Santa María de la Sede)
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The world’s largest Gothic cathedral, built atop the remains of a mosque, the Seville Cathedral (Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede) features a spectacular gold altarpiece in its main altar depicting 36 scenes from the life of Christ, as well as the tomb of Christopher Columbus, works by Goya and Murillo, and the dramatic Giralda Tower.

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Gibraltar
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There’s really nowhere quite like Gibraltar: a little piece of England looking out from Spain to the coast of Africa with a rock fabled in ancient mythology and the only wild monkey population in Europe. Gibraltar was handed over to the British by Spain in the 18th century, and British it has remained ever since, despite Spain's best efforts to get it to accept its sovereignty. The famous Rock of Gibraltar is a chunk of limestone rearing up over the city and overrun by Barbary macaques—legend says that if these monkeys leave the rock, so will the British leave Gibraltar.

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Santa Cruz
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Santa Cruz is Seville’s historic Jewish Quarter, a barrio filled with whitewashed buildings and some of the city’s most popular sights, including Giralda, the bell tower of Seville Cathedral, and the Real Alcázar. Meander down streets, stopping in bodegas and art galleries to enjoy the cultural and architectural richness of this barrio.

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The Giralda (El Giraldillo)
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There is no more representative symbol of Seville’s layered history than the 322-foot (98-meter) The Giralda (El Giraldillo). The bell tower of the city’s cathedral stands a little apart from the main building; it was once the minaret of a mosque that stood on the site before it was razed to make way for the cathedral.

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Torre del Oro
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The 12-sided Torre del Oro, perched on the Guadalquivir River, is a Seville landmark. Also known as the Golden Tower, it was constructed in the 13th century when the city was ruled by the Almohads, a Berber Muslim dynasty. Visit the Torre del Oro to peruse its onsite naval museum, and for views from the top of the tower.

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Maria Luisa Park
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South of Seville's main old quarter and extending along the Guadalquivir River, you'll stumble upon the city's main green getaway, Maria Luisa Park. Once primarily the land of the Palace of San Telmo (now home to Andalusia’s president), this patch of paradise was donated to the public in 1893, evolving over the years into the Seville escape that you see today.

Most of its transformation came about during preparation for the 1929 World's Fair: expansive boulevards were created, fountains erected, gardens planted. Today’s park is so robust in flora and fauna that it is actually considered a proper botanical garden. And expect not only diverse plants, but also birds too, including ducks and swans that float in the fountains and lakes, and even green parrots that live in the center of the park.

It's not all just grassy knolls, ponds and paths, either: Maria Luisa Park is also home to numerous monuments and sights. Don't miss the Fountain of the Lions, with its four stone felines spouting water into an octagonal pond, or the Mudejar Pavilion, which houses the Museum of Arts and Traditions. And most notably, be sure to spend some time wandering the colorfully tiled Plaza de España, which is crisscrossed by several bridges and lined by painted scenes of provinces around Spain.

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Triana
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Just across the Isabel II Bridge, and squished between two parallel branches of the Guadalquivir River, you'll find Seville's Triana neighborhood. Originally founded as a Roman colony, this neighborhood -- like the rest of the city – has also been ruled by both Muslims and Christians. Over time it has served as a key strategic position as the last line of defense before invaders reached Seville's western walls. Traditionally, it has also been home to an eclectic mix of residents, from sailors and bullfighters to potters and flamenco dancers – all especially proud of their Triana heritage.

You can still see what endures of the barrio's eccentric personality in today's Triana. While visiting the neighborhood, keep an eye out for the few remaining (and culturally protected) corrales, which traditionally served as communal homes for the district's many Romani people. Meanwhile, make a stop at the emblematic Chapel of El Carmen, with its Traina-made tiles, famously produced in the neighborhood and seen throughout Seville. And perhaps the highlight of your visit: a stop at the Triana Market, located near the Isabel II Bridge in a Moorish Revival Building, which has been constructed atop the ruins of the Castle of San Jorge. There, you can get an extra-local taste of Seville, from fresh produce to meats, fish and cheese.

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Aire Ancient Baths Sevilla
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Set inside a 16th-century Moorish palace, these thermal baths are an atmospheric spot to relax and rejuvenate. The hushed, candle-lit main bathing area features thermal baths of varying temperatures, a steam room, a jet bath, and a salt pool, while a rooftop pool offers views of the historic Barrio Santa Cruz.

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More Things to Do in Seville

El Arenal District

El Arenal District

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Snuggled up against the Guadalqivir River’s east bank and set amidst some of Seville’s most storied streets, you’ll wander upon El Arenal. Its name (arena means sand in Spanish) tells the story of its past, when, during the 16th and 17th centuries, the sandy-banked neighborhood was used as Seville’s port, making it one of the most important port cities in the world. From its shore, boats set off west for the New World, or east for spices, and returned with grand treasures.

These days, the neighborhood, which sits within the city's historic quarter, is especially known for its residents' passion for bullfighting and also religion. Their faithfulness is evident in the abundance of Arenal brotherhoods, whose devotion can be seen during Holy Week each year, when Seville’s Catholicism comes to life in colorful processions that take over the city streets.

Within El Arenal you’ll also find some of the Seville's most notable sights, such as the 13th-century Torre del Oro, erected as a watch tower under Muslim rule; the royal shipyards of the Real Atarazanas; and the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza, the second-most important bullring in Spain after the one located in Madrid.

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Historic Center of Seville (Centro Historico de Sevilla)

Historic Center of Seville (Centro Historico de Sevilla)

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Stroll cobblestone streets, stop for tapas, and marvel at centuries-old architecture in Seville's Historic Center (Centro Historico de Sevilla). This destination may be best known for its trio of UNESCO World Heritage Sites—the Cathedral, Alcázar, and the Archivo de Indias—making it a prime destination to uncover Spanish history.

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Seville Aquarium (Acuario de Sevilla)

Seville Aquarium (Acuario de Sevilla)

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The Seville Aquarium is one of the city’s newer attractions, With more than 7,000 animals in 35 tanks that are both fresh and saltwater, there is plenty of marine life to discover. Themed around the sea voyages of the explorer Ferdinand Magellan, it’s home to animals and plants from around the world viewed through this unique lens.

Visitors can walk through and see not only the local wildlife of the Guadalquivir river but also from across the Atlantic Ocean, up the Amazon River, and even the Pacific Ocean. The aquarium’s biggest draw tends to be its massive shark exhibit, a tank that’s nine meters deep and is home to two adult bull sharks and other large fish. It’s one of the deepest aquarium tanks in Spain.

A highlight for many is the aquarium’s baby animal center, where new life and young animals are on display. There’s also a great ‘Toca Toca’ shallow touch pool that’s great for children and families, accessible under the guidance of trained professionals. A visit to the aquarium is easily combined with a trip to the nearby Guadalquivir River.

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Seville Bullring (Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza de Cabellería de Sevilla)

Seville Bullring (Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza de Cabellería de Sevilla)

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Seville's bullring—or the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza de Cabellería de Sevilla—is the oldest in Spain. It was here that thecorrida, or bullfight, moved from horseback to foot, and many of the cherished theatrical traditions of the matador evolved. Completed in the late 18th century, the bullring is a yellow-and-white baroque beauty.

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Casa de la Memoria

Casa de la Memoria

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Situated in the converted stables of a 16th century palace, Casa de la Memoria offers visitors to Seville an intimate setting for acoustic flamenco performances. Watch as four or more different performers take to the stage each night—singers, dancers, and guitar players—to perform traditional Spanish music and dances.

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General Archive of the Indies (Archivo General de Indias)

General Archive of the Indies (Archivo General de Indias)

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There was a time after Spain’s first journeys to the Americas that Seville

served as one of the most important commercial cities and ports in Europe. For that reason, in 1572, this Renaissance-style building — now called the General Archive of the Indies — was erected, with the goal of serving as a merchant’s exchange.

Come 1785, when Seville’s role as a trade hub fizzled out, the grand building was finally converted into a space meant to unify all the country’s documentation related to its overseas empires in the Americas. These days, this includes 9 kilometers of shelving with over 43,000 volumes and 80 million pages, and is composed of documents such as exchanges between Christopher Columbus and the Spanish King and Queen, as well as other writings by explorers. Though the extent of what visitors can actually view is quite limited, entrance to the building is free, and therefore worth a quick wander, especially since it’s located right next to the main cathedral.

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Palace of San Telmo (Palacio de San Telmo)

Palace of San Telmo (Palacio de San Telmo)

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Today’s it’s the seat of the Andalusian government, but once upon a time, this grand, rusty-red and golden-yellow building served as a royal palace. That wasn’t its original destiny, however: built in the late 1600s, it was meant to serve as a seminary school for the University of Navigators, and is thus named after the patron saint of navigators, San Telmo. Later it was purchased by the royals, after which Princess Maria Luisa donated much of its lands to the city of Seville, hence why the grand nearby park bears her name (she ultimately donated the entire palace to the church).

Nowadays, the palatial building belongs to the government of Andalucia, and has ever since 1989. Its exterior alone is quite impressive, as it is noted for its elaborate baroque façade, and a stretch of statues featuring historical figures, which is situated along Avenida de Palos de Frontera. The interior is nothing short of impressive, either, with its fancy gilt chapel, and ballroom-turned-reception-room called the Salon of Mirrors.

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Magic Island Park (Parque Isla Magica)

Magic Island Park (Parque Isla Magica)

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Set on the site of the 1992 Expo in Seville, Magic Island Park (Parque Isla Magica) brings 16th-century colonial Spain to life—complete with pirates, galleons, jungles, and swashbuckling adventure. Seven themed areas center on a lake, with highlights that include white-knuckle roller coasters like Anaconda and El Jaguar, the 223-foot (68-meter) El Desafio drop tower, and Iguazu, a high-speed flume ride through the Brazilian jungle.

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Royal Tobacco Factory (Real Fábrica de Tabacos)

Royal Tobacco Factory (Real Fábrica de Tabacos)

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The Royal Tobacco Factory (Real Fábrica de Tabacos) offers a glimpse into Seville’s once booming tobacco industry—although what was once the largest industrial building in Europe is now a university building. Many visit in homage to Bizet’s operaCarmen; it’s in this former factory that the namesake heroine rolls cigars on her thighs.

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Triana Bridge (Puente de Isabel II)

Triana Bridge (Puente de Isabel II)

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Consider this your bridge — literally — to discovering one of Seville’s most beloved, eccentric and spirited neighborhoods, Triana. Commonly called the Triana Bridge, the Puente de Isabel II — which was completed in 1852 under Queen Isabel II’s reign — crosses the Guadalquivir River, thus connecting Seville and its old quarter to the almost entirely river-surrounded barrio.

The neighborhood of Triana is what will especially make this bridge worth crossing. It’s noted for its historically eclectic and Triana-proud residents, ranging from sailors to bullfighters, potters, and flamenco dancers. Beyond its cultural curiosities, it’s also a great place to explore: Visit the Chapel of El Carmen, with its Traina-made tiles, famously produced in the neighborhood and seen throughout Seville; or get a taste of local fare by stopping at the Triana Market, located near the bridge in a Moorish Revival building constructed atop the ruins of the Castle of San Jorge.

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Flamenco Dance Museum (Museo del Baile Flamenco)

Flamenco Dance Museum (Museo del Baile Flamenco)

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Situated in a renovated 18th century building, the Flamenco Dance Museum (Museo del Baile Flamenco) is one of Seville’s most important cultural touchstones. Here, you can attend a live flamenco performance and also learn about the history of the dance form at an interactive museum—an immersive experience you won’t find at other venues.

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Seville Church of Santa Ana (Iglesia de Santa Ana)

Seville Church of Santa Ana (Iglesia de Santa Ana)

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The Church of Santa Ana (Iglesia de Santa Ana) is the oldest church in Seville.Located in the Triana neighborhood, the 13th-century church is home to impressive sculptures, paintings, jewelry and religious processional items, many of which are displayed throughout the interior chapels. Master Castilian stonemasons and Muslim master builders worked on the church, whose remarkable interior features columns topped by corbels decorated with castles, vine leaves, lions and human heads. Admire a conglomeration of architecture with a step inside the originally Gothic church and its Baroque-style reconstruction, added after an earthquake in the 17th century.

You can visit the church as part of a guided bike tour of Seville's highlights, which includes stops at San Jorge Castle and the Jewish Quarter, as well as souvenir photos.

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Itálica

Itálica

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North of Seville lies one of Andalusia’s most important historical sites: the ruins of Itálica near the Guadalquivir River. Founded in 206 BC, Itálica was the first and largest Roman settlement in southern Spain. The site, which can be visited on a guided tour, includes mosaics, an amphitheater, and the remains of grand villas and city streets.

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Inquisition Museum (Museo Del Castillo De San Jorge)

Inquisition Museum (Museo Del Castillo De San Jorge)

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Situated in Seville’s Triana neighborhood, near the banks of the Guadalquivir River, the Castillo de San Jorge was the headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition from 1481 to 1785. However, the 12th-century castle was demolished in the 19th century to make room for a market and, today, the underground ruins of the castle are home to the Inquisition Museum (Museo del Castillo de San Jorge).

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