With the Greek demi-god of Hercules as its mythical founder, Seville was pre-destined to be be great. And great it was, both as the jewel in the Moorish Caliphate of Cordoba and as the capital of the most powerful Castilian Kingdom, a dual legacy that bequeathed the city its eye-popping architecture and majestic grace. While Seville reached its peak of cultural brilliance in the 17th century and then suffered terribly in the Spanish Civil War, today it has resurrected itself as the capital and largest city of Andalusia. You’ll need to spend a few days here at least to experience the true essence of Spanish grandeur.
Containing no less than three UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Alcazar palace complex, the Cathedral, and the General Archive of the Indies – Seville’s Old Town is the third largest in Europe. Head to the Santa Cruz quarter, rich in Moorish splendour, and you’ll see fascinating medieval engravings. For a look at Seville’s lost colonial glory, head to the riverside at Arenal. The neighbourhood of Triana on the west bank of the Guadalquivir River is a folk, monumental, and cultural centre while La Macarena on the northern side of the city centre is home to many important monuments and religious buildings.
The city simply has too many wonders to list, but while you’re here, you can’t be forgiven for missing the Plaza de Espana in Maria Luisa Park. Built by the architect Anibal Gonzalez for the 1929 Exposicion Ibero-Americana, it’s an outstanding example of Regionalist Revival architecture featuring Art Deco details and lavishly ornamented with Andalusian glazed tiles. Climb La Giralda tower attached to the monumental Gothic St. Mary of the See Cathedral; take a tour of the magnificent Torre del Oro river watchtower; and visit the Palace of San Telmo, one of the most emblematic baroque buildings you can find.
Visit over Easter during the Holy Week of Semana Santa, and you’ll find Seville’s streets are solemn with decorative and dramatic processions. Just two weeks later, you’ll meet the city in a flirtatious and lively mood as it celebrates the colourful Feria de Sevilla or Feria de Abril. As if outdone by the exhaustion of its emotions, the city then becomes listless in the soaring heat of the summer before cooling down over August to enjoy a dry, bright, and temperate winter.
Arguably the prettiest town in Spain, there is a something really special about Seville. I have some of my fondest travel memories here, from sipping delicious Spanish sangria on the promenades, to wandering around the Alcázar of Seville (Royal Palace). It is a magical city, in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
What to do
- Tour Seville's Old Town and its three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcazar palace complex, the Cathedral, and the General Archive of the Indies
- Marvel at Plaza Espana
- Climb La Giralda tower and the Torre del Oro
- Visit the Palace of San Telmo
- Explore the Museum of Fine Arts of Seville
When to go
The best time to visit Seville is in the shoulder months, from April to June and September to October when weather is usually beautiful, yet not too hot. The summer months (June-August) are always buzzing with tourists and it can get rather warm.