One of the most attractive and historically interesting cities in Spain, Seville is a perfect destination for a short break. However the Andalucian capital it is not particularly well served by airlines from the UK so its potential as a destination for British tourists remains more limited than it deserves. Direct flights to Seville from UK airports are currently limited to just London Stansted and Gatwick, although Malaga is only about 2½ hours away by train, offering many more possibilities for flights.
Easily explored on foot, Seville has some spectacular architecture with Moorish, Renaissance and Baroque buildings all offering glimpses of the city’s illustrious past. It was the former capital of the Moorish empire and the most important Spanish port for the New World in the 15th and 16th centuries. The GuadalquivirRiver, the reason for its status as the gateway to the Americas, flows through the heart of the city. Seville’s historical centre is on the river’s eastern bank, with the Unesco World Heritage-listed Cathedral of the Virgin Mary and its GiraldaTower at the heart.
The third largest cathedral in the world, behind only St. Peters in Rome and St. Paul’s in London this is the most visited site in Seville. Construction began in 1401 on the grounds of the central mosque constructed during Arab occupation. The climb up the Giralda is made easier with the absence of stairs. Instead a series of ramps leads you to the top for a perfect view of the city.
Other sights well worth a visit include the Alcazar or RoyalPalace which is still a holiday spot for the King and Queen. Any visit should also give priority to the wonderful gardens around the palace. The Palacio de Lebrija is a 16th century palace which holds a very impressive collection of Roman mosaics from the nearby ruins of Italica. It is one of the few places in the world where you can actually walk on top of some of the mosaics, just as the Romans did.
If you are curious to see a bullfight, the place to go is the Plaza de Toros which was constructed over several decades during the 18th century and is one of the most famous venues in Spain to take in a bullfight.. When buying tickets take your choice of sol (cheaper), sombra (expensive) and sol y sombra (middle range) seats. The museum includes statues of famous bullfighters, posters and other memorabilia as well as a gift shop.
The name Seville is synonymous with flamenco, and the Museum of Flamenco Dance is the only one of its kind in the world. A visit to the museum will give you an insight into the Andalusian people and their culture and show you the roots of flamenco using the latest multimedia technology.
When in Seville you have to sample some tapas. You can take a “tapeo” or stroll around Seville’s tapas bars, stopping for a glass of wine, beer or sherry and a few bites. As well as tapas you can ask for a slightly more substantial “ración” – just a few of these will easily constitute dinner.
The summer months can be extremely hot in Seville but the quieter winter months offer more bearable temperatures and cheaper prices, opening up a wealth of possibilities for a fascinating city break.