Seville See And Do
Patio de Banderas s/n
Tel: 34 954 502 323
First built in A.D. 913, this fortress was expanded and rebuilt countless times by successive Muslim rulers. In the 14th century, Catholic kings took it over and further embellished it. The Alcázar is a succession of courtyards, tiled arbors, enclosed gardens, and halls with lacy stucco friezes adorned with Arabic inscriptions. The Spanish royal family still uses it as their pad on visits to Seville (making it the oldest royal residence in Europe still in use).
1 Plaza de Pilatos
Tel: 34 954 225 298
Supposedly a reproduction of Pilate's house in Jerusalem, this 16th-century palace was the home of the dukes of Medinaceli. Its network of courtyards, salons, and fountains combines Gothic, Moorish, and Plateresque styles. You'll see Greek and Roman statues as well as works by Goya, Carreño, Batalloli, and Pacheco and collections of antique vases, plates, and silverware. The ground floor, patios, and gardens are self-guided, but the upper level can only be seen on a guided tour.
Open daily 96:30.
Avenida de la Constitución s/n
Tel: 34 954 214 971
Its 15th-century builders said, "Let us create such a building that future generations will take us for lunatics." Today, Seville's cathedral is Europe's third-largest church, a Gothic pile topped by spires, towers, and a delicate network of buttresses. Inside, you'll find Columbus's tomb; works by Goya, Murillo, and Zurbarán; and a display of skulls. La Giralda is the single remaining minaret of the 12th-century mosque on which the cathedral was built. Climb the 300-foot tower's ramp for a superb city view.
Open MonSat 112:30 and 34, Sun 2:306; JulAug 9:303:30.
Calle Jardines de Murillo
Barrio Santa Cruz
Just a hop, skip, and salto from major tourist stops and watering holes, the Murillo Gardens are easy to recommend, yet often overlooked. The park, hidden behind the Alcázar palace walls, is essentially a backyard for the maze of alleys that form the endlessly explorable Barrio Santa Cruz. The gardens are named for a famous son of the city, Baroque painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, yet their calling card is a striking statue honoring another major player in Seville history, Christopher Columbus. Though the monument merits a look for its odd rendering of Columbus' Santa Maria impaled on a pair of towering columns, it is the park's quieter charms that are worth lingering for: the palms, colossal banyans, and tile-edged gardens, walkways, benches, and fountains. With backdoor access to some of the Barrio's less traveled, most atmospheric plazas and patios, this is a shady spot to contemplate the picturesque present and charged history of the neighborhood, centuries ago Seville's Jewish quarter. The gardens are also a handy escape for families with kids maxing out on culture or cobblestones.—Patricia Reilly
The lungs of the city, this park has monuments, pavilions, and pools shaded by palm, pine, and elm trees. Start off at Plaza de España, a grandiose semicircular brick Art DecoMudejar building with ceramic-tiled benches depicting each region of Spain. It was designed by Sevillano architect Anibal Gonzalez for the 1929 Ibero-American Expo. Walk through the park to Plaza de America, where the Mudejar Pavilion now houses the Museum of Popular Arts and Customs, full of quirky, fascinating artifacts covering all aspects of Andalucian life, from olive oil presses and guitar workshops to handcrafted shepherds' wine containers and the famous Triana azulejo tiles. Opposite, in the former Renaissance Pavilion, is the Archaeological Museum, with magnificent Roman mosaics and the Carambolo treasure, a hoard of sixth-century Tartessian gold jewellery discovered near Seville.
Park open daily from 8 am to 12 am in summer, 8 am to 10 pm in winter.
Both museums are open Tuesdays 2:30 to 8:30 pm, Wednesdays through Saturdays 9 am to 8:30 pm, and Sunday 9 am to 2:30 pm.
Plaza de la Encarnación
Consisting of six enormous wooden umbrellas, Metropol Parasol opened in March 2011 and is Seville's contemporary iconic architectural statement. German architect Jürgen Mayer H.'s $130-million structure provides shade in the heart of sun-drenched Seville and houses a food market and restaurants, as well as an open-air concert plaza. Up inside the parasols is Gastrosol restaurant (due to open in December 2011), and an outdoor pasarela (walkway) offering views of the city that match the Giralda's.The cherry on top is a panoramic terrace 90 feet above the ground. In the basement is the Antiquarium, an archaeological museum that tracks the city's multilayered past, on display are Roman houses, streets, and mosaics and Moorish remains. The jury is out on whether locals will take the parasols to their hearts; so far, they've nicknamed the structure "las setas," the mushrooms.—Fiona Flores Watson
Walkway and panoramic terrace open daily 10 am to 2 pm and 6 pm to midnight. Antiquarium open Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 am to 8 pm, Sundays 10 am to 2 pm.
2 Avenida Américo Vespucio
Isla la Cartuja
Tel: 34 955 037 070
Restored for the 1992 Expo, this 14th-century monastery on Isla de la Cartuja has a long and fascinating history: Carthusian monks bred pure-blood Andalusian horses here, Columbus planned his voyages, Napoleon's troops set up camp, and porcelain was created in the factory founded by Englishman Charles Pickmanhence the tall, cone-shaped chimneys visible from across the river. It's now home to the Andalucian Center of Contemporary Art (CAAC), with its permanent collection of works by regional artists and rotating themed exhibits. Its best cultural offerings are the art biennales, BIACS (www.fundacionbiacs.com). An installation from the first biennale remains in the garden: a small Mudejar pavilion hung with black bead curtains, which sway gently in the breeze. In summer there are music festivals and concerts in the gardens. The café, with tables overlooking magnificent bougainvillea, serves drinks and tapas.
Open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 am to 8 pm, Saturdays 11 am to 8 pm, Sundays 10 am to 3 pm.
9 Plaza del Museo
Tel: 34 95 478 6482
This museum houses one of the world's best collections of Spanish art, particularly from the medieval and Renaissance eras. Highlights include stunning works by El Greco, as well as tender Murillo Virgins and macabre biblical scenes by 17th-century artist Juan de Valdés Leal. The collection is housed in a charming 17th-century convent.
Open Tues 2:308:30, WedSat 98:30, Sun 92:30; closed Mon.
Castillo de San Jorge
Plaza del Altozano
This museum explores one of the darkest periods in Spain's—and Seville's—history: the Inquisition. The Castillo de San Jorge in Triana, of which only the foundations remain, was the seat of these religious purges, which started in the late 15th century and largely targeted the wealthy Jewish population. Exhibits include a flashy multimedia presentation on topics such as judgment and abuse of power, but it's not until you reach the ruins of the castle itself, and the cells where the "heretics" were housed, that it all comes alive. Other highlights include a model of the original impenetrable castle, complete with chapel, stables, and streets; blown-up reproductions of Goya drawings of "suspects" wearing sinister X-marked tunics and pointed hats (signifying that they were under investigation); and a moving film about a (fictional) young woman accused of brujería (witchcraft). Don't expect gruesome instruments of torture; a visit here is an enlightening, if sobering, experience.—Fiona Flores Watson
Open Mondays through Fridays 9 am to 2 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 1:45 pm.
3 Calle Manuel Rojas Marcos
Tel: 34 954 340 311
The Museum of Flamenco Dance was established by renowned local bailaora Cristina Hoyos, hailed as the Queen of Flamenco, and occupies a four-story 18th-century casa-palacio in the Barrio Antiguo. The museum covers the Asian and Caribbean origins of the dance, the different styles (from the joyful alegría, danced at Spanish fiestas, to the melancholy farruca), and its development since the 19th century. Although subjective and a little narcissistic (Hoyos is the ubiquitous star as well as owner), the museum is hugely interesting for anyone looking to learn more about flamenco; the massive wall-to-wall screens showing life-size dancers give you a sense of an actual performance. Also on show are costumes and accessories, such as castanets and hair decorations, photographs, and flamenco-themed art exhibitions. Watch the professionals in action at one of the nightly shows in the charming ground-floor patio, and if you get a taste for it, there are classes as well.—Fiona Flores Watson
Open daily 9 am to 6 pm, November through March; 9 am to 7 pm, April through October. Flamenco shows Mondays through Thursdays 7 to 7:45 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 7 to 8 pm.
12 Paseo de Colón
Tel: 34 954 224 577
Bizet's Carmen met her fate in the red-and-yellow Real Maestranza bullring, where a statue of her now stands. This elegant ring, flanked by stables and a chapel, is one of the oldest and most beautiful in Spainbuilding began in 1730. You can also visit a museum containing paintings, cloaks, and tributes to bullfighting celebrities. (If you hanker to see an actual bullfight, note that few are held in summer.)
Open daily 9:302 and 37 (9:303 on bullfight days).