Seville, a city with many sights and historic sites
The city of Seville is steeped in history. Both on the narrow streets and on boulevards, all over the city, there are fascinating monuments and buildings that bear witness to the incredible historical heritage of the city. Many of the sights of Seville date back to the time of Moorish occupation, such as the Giralda and Alcazar or Seville Cathedral, which was originally built by the Almohad Dynasty (The Almohad Caliphate), in the late 12th century, to serve as a mosque. Later, it became the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.
Barrio Santa Cruz is full of tourist attractions and sights – perhaps the fullest in Seville, particularly in terms of the number of monuments. This region perfectly reflects the “romantic city” picture of Seville, with narrow streets and white houses with window grilles, to keep away the girls from young “Casanovas”. Almost all houses have quite large terraces, full of flowers; during the summer, the beautiful terraces are becoming “the living rooms” for many families in Seville.
List of sights and touristic attractions in Seville
Of all the attractions in Seville, we have chosen a few of them, which we present in detail to you in the list below. Of course, the city has a much wider range of tourist attractions that can be discovered by every tourist, but the following are some of the most popular attractions among tourists who choose to visit Seville.
The Giralda Tower in Seville
Giralda, the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville, is the most famous landmark in Seville, being a real symbol of the city. The tower was originally built in the late 12th century, as the minaret of a large mosque built by the Moors. In the 12th century, the Almohades (the Almohad Caliphate), who dominated the entire region, built a new mosque in Seville. The construction of the minaret of the mosque started in 1184, under the guidance of engineer Gever, who designed an ingenious two-wall structure; a structure with two separate load-bearing walls bound together by an internal ramp. The construction of the minaret was completed in 1198.
Stones from ancient Roman monuments were used to build this tower. At the foot of the Giralda Tower, one can still see inscriptions dating back to the era of Emperor Augustus.
In 1356, after the reconquest of Seville by the Christians, much of the mosque was destroyed by a large earthquake. Only two parts of the original structure survived unscathed: the Patio de los Naranjos (a courtyard) and the Giralda minaret. The rest of the building was replaced by a Gothic cathedral.
In the fourteenth century the bronze spheres at the top of the tower were replaced by Christian symbols. Its current appearance dates back to 1568, when Hernán Ruiz added the magnificent belfry, which can also be admired today. Surprisingly, the Renaissance style of the belfry blends in harmoniously with the rest of this Moorish structure.
The statue depicting faith shows a woman in a Roman attire, holding a shield in the right hand and a palm branch in the left hand. The Giralda is one of the most famous bell towers in the world and served as a model for several towers, including as the former Madison Square Garden in New York, now demolished, the tower of the Ferry Building in San Francisco and the Wrigley Building in Chicago.
The tower can be accessed from inside the Cathedral of Seville. After an exhausting climb, the stairs lead to the tower’s belfry, from where you can admire a 360 degree view over the city of Seville. From here, you can easily spot landmarks such as the Real Alcazar, Plaza de Espana and Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza.
Av. de la Constitucion s/n, Seville, Spain
Adults: 8 euros including the Cathedral;
Children under the age of 11: free;
Students under the age of 26: 2 euros;
Sundays: free admission.
From July to August à Monday to Saturday: 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM; Sunday: 2:30 PM – 6:30 PM.
From September to June à Monday to Saturday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM; Sunday 2:30 PM – 6:30 PM.
The last entry is 30 minutes before closing.
Royal Alcázar of Seville
Real Alcazar is the Royal Palace of Seville, a magnificent complex of patios (courtyards), terraces and halls, in different architectural styles, from Mudéjar (Moorish architectural style) to Gothic. In the center of the complex is the Palace of King Pedro I, who constructed his royal residence in 1364 at the site of an old Moorish palace. Today, the Alcazar Palace is one of the most important landmarks of Seville and a holiday in this Andalusian city, a visit to the palace should not be missed under any circumstances. Real Alcazar is one of the city’s attractions and the locals are proud of this place that bears witness to the rich history of their city.
Soon after the Almohad Caliphate, a Moorish dynasty, gained control of Seville in 1161, a lot of very ambitious architectural projects began to be implemented. They constructed several baths, towers, a mosque and a fortress-like palace, known as the Al-Muwarak (the Blessed).
In 1364, after the Reconquista (the reconquest of Moorish Spain by Christians), King Pedro I ordered the construction of a new palace, the Palacio Pedro I, at the site of the Al-Muwarak, the old Moorish palace. Craftsmen from all over Andalusia created a magnificent interior in Mudéjar style and built beautiful gardens and terraces. Over the years, other monarchs have continued to expand the palace, resulting in a complex with a variety of architectural styles. The upper floor of the palace is still used by the Spanish Royal Family.
The palace can be entered from the Plaza del Triunfo through the Puerta del León (Lion’s Gate). This large gate, set in a massive crenellated defensive wall, is decorated with a heraldic lion. The gate leads to the Lion’s Patio and the path leads on to another courtyard, Patio de la Monteria. This courtyard got its name from the hunters (monteros), who met here with the King before they went out hunting. The Palacio Pedro I (whose facade is decorated in Mudéjar style, with blind arches) can also be admired here.
Once inside, tourists arrive onto the Patio de las Doncellas, the main courtyard of the palace. This was the center of public life in the palace of Pedro I. From the patio, which is named after the young ladies (doncellas) who spent much of their time here, several halls can also be visited: the Hall of the Kings, the Hall of Charles V and the Hall of the Embassadors. The latter was used for events and ceremonies. Known as the Salón de Embajadores, this hall is the most beautiful part of the royal complex. The hall was built in a Moorish style, by Diego Ruiz, a Sevillian craftsman, and just below the dome is a frieze with portraits of Spanish kings.
Daily life in the Palace of Pedro I revolved around the courtyard called Patio de las Muñecas, which leads to the bedrooms and private halls. The small hall is enclosed by a gallery with marble columns and lobed arches. The name of the “Patio de las Muñecas” (dolls) comes from four small heads that decorate one of the arches.
A complete different architectural style can be seen in the Salones de Carlos V (the Hall of Charles V), where the Gothic vaulted hall is decorated with tapestries and azulejos. Another interesting hall is situated west of the Patio de la Montería. The Hall of the Admirals (Cuarto del Admirante) is the place where seafarers and navigators planned their journeys to America. A retable in a small chapel near the Casa de la Contratación is said to depict Christopher Columbus next to the Virgin Mary.
A visit to the Royal Alcazar also allows visiting the royal gardens. The expansive area is divided into several separate gardens, some of which are terraced. They are decorated in a number of diverse styles, including French, Italian and Arab. Each garden has a name, such as the Garden of the Dance, Garden of the Ladies and the Garden of the Prince. The Garden of the Pond has a large arch on the edge of a basin, known as the Pond of Mercury. In the center of the basin is a small fountain with a statue of Mercury, the messenger of the Gods. A visit to the Alcazar Palace, one of the most beautiful royal complexes in Europe, can be an excellent way of spending a vacation day in Seville.
Patio de Banderas, s / n. C.P. 41004. Seville
Adults: 7,50 euros;
Pensioners, students and disabled people have free admission.
October to March à from Monday to Sunday: 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April to September à from Monday to Sunday: 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Real Alcazar is closed on the 1st and 6th of January, Good Friday and the 25th of December.
Bus: 1, 5, C3, C4, 21, 23, 25, 26, 30, 31, 32, 34, 35, 40, 41, 42.
Seville Cathedral is one of the largest and most impressive churches in the world. It was built in the fifteenth century, at the site of a twelfth-century mosque. Inside the cathedral is a spectacular golden altar, Retablo Mayor. Today, the Seville Cathedral is one of the most important sights of Seville, a tourist attraction visited by many tourists every year. Along with the Giralda Tower, the only one remained standing of the old mosque, Seville Cathedral represents an important landmark of today’s city of Seville. Regardless of religious affinities, Seville Cathedral is a masterpiece that should be visited if you are in town.
Construction of the cathedral started in the first half of the 15th century, at the site of the mosque which was built by the Moors in the 12th century. The mosque had been damaged by an earthquake in July 1401. Then, the Chapter took the decision to build a grand cathedral over the ruins of the mosque. According to traditions, those who decided this said: “We shall build such a large and grand church, that those who will see it completed will consider us crazy”.
In 1248, shortly after the reconquest of the city by the Christians, the mosque was consecrated as a cathedral. After the earthquake of 1356, much of the old mosque had collapsed, but some parts of it remained standing, including the minaret, which today is the lower part of the cathedral’s famous bell tower (the Giralda) and the Patio de los Naranjos, a large courtyard. Construction of the new church began in 1402, after a project of Alonso Martinez, and the building was completed in 1517. The titanic work on the interior continued until the 20th century. The cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in the world. The interior is enormous and has five large naves. The building is 126 meters long and 83 meters wide, with a ceiling height of up to 37 meters.
The interior of the Cathedral of Seville is really wonderful, with numerous chapels, an extraordinary choir, remarkable arches and stained glass windows. Some of the most noteworthy chapels include the Royal Chapel, the Chapel of St. Peter and the Chapel of St. Anthony. They have some superb paintings dating from the 16th century. The gorgeous carved altarpiece and the tomb of Christopher Columbus in the Cathedral are also waiting to be admired. More famous tombs can be found in the crypt under the altar, where Castilian kings and queens from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries were buried. In the cathedral museum, you can find a number of valuable paintings, but also the large silver monstrance.
The most spectacular part of the interior of the Seville Cathedral is undoubtedly Retablo Mayor, the golden altarpiece of the church, in the main chapel. This masterpiece was designed by the Flemish craftsman Pierre Dancart, who worked for 44 years on the reliefs, since 1482. The altarpiece was finally completed in 1564 by other artists. Large iron grilles, forged between 1518 and 1532, separate visitors from the altarpiece. The Retablo Mayor, the largest altarpiece in the world, consists of 36 relief carved panels, depicting scenes from the Old Testament and the lives of saints. At the altar, in front of a golden wall, can be seen the statue depicting Santa Maria de la Sede, the patron saint of the Cathedral.
Tomb of Christopher Columbus
Near the entrance to the cathedral lies the funeral monument to Christopher Columbus, which supposedly contains the body of the famous explorer. His body was brought here from Havana at the end of the 1890s. The sarcophagus of Columbus is held aloft by four large statues, representing the kingdom of Aragón, Castille, León and Navarra. Tomb of Columbus was initially installed in Havana, but when Cuba declared its independence was moved to Seville.
Patio de los Naranjos
The Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Tree Courtyard) was originally the courtyard of the former mosque. A large gate, called Puerta del Perdon, built in the 12th century by the Moors, leads to the courtyard. At the center of the patio is a stone fountain which dates back to the Visigoth or even the Roman era.
Giralda Bell Tower
La pièce de résistance of the Seville Cathedral is the Giralda Bell Tower, which today reaches a height of 98 meters and dates back to the 12th century, when it was built as a minaret of the Moorish mosque. The tower survived the devastating earthquake of the 14th century, so it was decided to keep the tower and convert it into a bell tower for the Seville Cathedral. Christian symbols were subsequently added and its current appearance is due to a reconditioning made in 1568, when the beautiful Renaissance belfry was also added.
The gates of the Seville Cathedral
A significant number of impressive doors provide access to the Cathedral. The most famous door is the Puerta de los Palos, near the Giralda Tower. It’s decorated with a bas-relief depicting “the Adoration of the Magi”, created by Miguel Florentín in 1520. He also designed the relief over the Puerta de las Campanillas, showing Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. The main gate of the Cathedral of Seville, the Puerta de la Asuncíon, is situated at the Avenida de la Constitution. It was created in 1833 and it is decorated with statues of saints and a relief above the door, representing the Assumption of the Virgin.
Av. en de la Constitucion, Seville, Spain
Adults: 8.00 EUR, including the Giralda Tower;
Children under the age of 11: free;
Students under the age of 26: 2 EUR;
On Sundays: admission is free.
From July to August à from Monday to Saturday: 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM; Sunday: 2:30 PM – 6:30 PM.
From September and June à from Monday to Saturday: 11:00 AM – 5:30 PM; Sunday: 2:30 PM – 6:30 PM.
The last entry is 30 minutes before closing.
Casa de Pilatos (House of Pilate)
Casa de Pilatos, officially known as the Royal Ducal House of Medinaceli, is one of the most intriguing buildings in Seville. It was built in the early 16th century, in a mixture of architectural styles: Renaissance, Gothic and Mudejar.
In 1520, Don Fadrique Enríquez de Rivera, the first Marquis of Tarifa, returned from a two year long trip through Europe to the Holy Land. His passage through cities with a marvelous Renaissance architecture, like Rome, Venice or Florence made such an impression on him that he decided to drastically alter his residence, turning it into a Renaissance style palace. His palace became a symbol of Renaissance architecture and his ideas had a major impact on the architecture of the entire city of Seville.
Intriguingly, the royal palace of the Dukes of Medinaceli is commonly known as the House of Pilate. The name can be traced back to the first Marquis of Tarifa, who, on his trip to Jerusalem found that the distance from his house to a small temple at Cruz del Campo is equal to the distance between the former house of Pontius Pilate and the Golgotha – the biblical name of the place where Jesus was crucified. Returned home, the Marquis created a Way of the Cross with twelve stops along the path to the temple. So people started to identify the palace with the House of Pilate. Several rooms of the palace also have been given names referring to Pontius Pilate such as the Praetor’s Room and the Praetor’s Study.
The most beautiful and important part of the palace is the central courtyard, known as the Patio Principal. Construction of the courtyard started in the late 15th century. Its current appearance dates back to the sixteenth century, after Don Fadrique’s trip through Europe. Influenced by the Renaissance architecture he had admired on his trips to Italy, he transformed the courtyard by creating balconies, adding classic-style columns and raising a marble fountain in the center. The four Roman and Greek statues in each corner of the Patio Principal were added in 1539. Around the same time busts were places in niches all around the courtyard. The decorations on the walls are Mudejar while the balconies have Gothic balustrades.
Gardens of the Casa de Pilatos
The palace has two gardens, known as the large garden and the small garden. The large garden, which was originally an orchard, has some Italian loggias. Inside these loggias are niches with classical statues. In a corner of the garden you can also find a small grotto. The small garden has a small pond with a fountain depicting a young Bacchus.
The interior is splendid, with Mudejar decorations and details on the walls throughout. Some of the rooms, such as the Praetor’s Room and Praetor’s Study, have elaborately decorated ceilings. A staircase, considered the most beautiful in all of Seville, connects the ground floor with the upper floor, where you can find several rooms, furnished with pieces from the art collection of Medinaceli family. However, the upper floor can only be visited on organized and guided tours.
Plaza de Pilatos, 1, Seville
5,00 EUR – the ground floor;
8,00 EUR – a complete tour (guided tours start every half hour).
Opening hours: daily, from 9 AM to 7 PM.
The Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts in Seville is one of the most famous art museums in Spain. Housed in a refurbished monastery, the museum has a collection of artworks from the Middle Ages to the modern era, with a focus on Spanish masters such as Murillo, Velázquez and Zurbarán. Both the museum’s collection and the building housing the museum are reason enough to visit to visit this important landmark in Seville when you’re on holiday in Andalusia. Founded in 1835 as the Museum of Paintings in Seville, it was later converted into the Museum of Fine Arts, maintaining its name until today.
The museum is housed in a former convent, the Convento de la Merced Calzada, and belonged to the Order of Merced. This religious order was dedicated to freeing Christians who were held captive by Muslims. Members of the order often succeeded to free the captives by paying ransoms and the order became wealthy thanks to generous gifts and donations of the families of the families of those who were freed. In the 19th century, the monks were expelled from the monastery and soon after, in 1852, it was converted into a museum.
The building of the Museum of Fine Arts in Seville
The monastery was constructed between 1600 and 1612 by Juan de Oviedo. It was built around a number of courtyards and includes several parts, such as the Claustro Mayor (main monastery), the Claustro de los Bojes and the Claustrilla, which are all open to the public. The facade is dominated by a central Baroque porch, decorated with columns and a statue of the Virgin Mary, crowned with a broken pediment. Inside you can see the dome-shaped ceiling, painted in the 18th century by Domingo Martinez, who also decorated the Palace of San Telmo in Seville.
Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Seville
The museum owns one of the largest collections of Spanish art and displays mostly paintings and sculptures from Spanish artists such as El Greco and Velázquez, covering the era from the medieval to the modern. Special attention is given to local artists such as Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Luis de Vargas, Francisco de Zurbarán and Juan de Valdés Leal. In the museum are also displayed a series of ceramic art works, a traditional craft in Andalusia, which enjoyed its heyday during the 17th and 18th centuries. The most valuable exhibits of the museum include “Virgin and Child” by Murillo (1668), a terracotta statue of St. Jerome by Pietro Torrigiano – a rival of Michelangelo and El Greco’s painting depicting his son, Jorge Manuel.
Flash photography is prohibited inside the museum.
Plaza del Museo 9, Seville.
Free entrance for EU citizens.
On Tuesdays: 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Wednesday to Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; on Sundays: 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Closed on Mondays. Also closed on January 1st, January 6th, May 1, December 24th and 25th and December 31st.
Transport: Bus C3 and C4.
Golden Tower of Seville – Torre del Oro
Torre del Oro (Golden Tower) is a historic watchtower that was built in the early 13th century by the Moorish Almohad dynasty, who ruled over the city of Seville at the time. The tower houses a naval museum today and is an important landmark in the capital of Andalusia. Golden Tower is one of the most photographed attractions of the city, as it is prominently located at a wide promenade near the river bank, close to the city’s historic center.
The Golden Tower is a legacy of Moorish Almohad dynasty that controlled much of Southern Spain until the time of “reconquista” – the reconquest of the area by the Christians in the thirteenth century. The cupola shaped top of the tower is a recent part of the tower and was added in 1760.
The tower was built around 1220 by order of governor Abu Eola. The tower was part of the city’s defensive walls and it was linked to another nearby octagonal tower – Torre de la Plata, or Silver Tower – which has also been preserved. After its construction, the tower was used to control access to the city’s port. A huge chain connected the Torre del Oro with yet another tower across the river. When the chain was raised, all ships were blocked from entering the city.
The Naval Museum located in the Torre del Oro
After the reconquest of Seville, the tower was used as a prison. Legend has it that it was even used as a shelter for the mistress of King Pedro I. Later the tower was used for many other purposes, and some people even suggested its demolition. Nowadays, the Golden Tower houses a naval museum which displays a collection related to the city’s rich maritime history and its connection with the New World.
The name of “Golden Tower” probably stems from the original decorations of the tower. Another explanation for the name of this tower was the gold that was unloaded here during the time that Seville had the monopoly over the trade with the New World.
Paseo de Cristobal Colon, Seville.
Tuesday: free admission.
During the rest of the week, the entrance costs 1 EUR.
Closed on Monday.
Tuesday through Friday: 10 AM to 2 PM;
On Saturday and Sunday: 11 AM to 2 PM.
San Telmo Palace – Palacio de San Telmo
Palacio de San Telmo, built in the 17th century to serve as a school for navigators, is distinguished especially its richly ornamented Baroque entrance. After having served as a school for navigators, as well as a number of different purposes, the building is now the official residence of the president of Andalusia.
The Palacio de San Telmo was built in 1682, as a college for “mareantes” (navigators). It was designed in an exuberant Spanish Baroque style by the acclaimed local architect Leonardo de Figueroa. He was assisted by his son, Antonio Matias. The palace is named after Saint Telmo, the patron saint of sailors.
The school closed in 1847 and two years later the building was sold to Antoine d’Orleans, the Duke of Montpensier, who converted it into his palace. In 1893, Princess Maria Luisa d’Orleans donated the vast gardens of the palace to Seville; the gardens were used to host the 1929 exposition. Today, the area is a large park bearing the name of Maria Luisa Park. The princess also donated the palace, which was given to the church, to host a seminary. In 1989, the building once again changed its owner, this time the Andalusian autonomous government. Today the Palace of San Telmo is the official residence of the president of the autonomous community of Andalusia.
The most remarkable part of the palace is the richly decorated entrance. Completed in 1734 by Antonio Matias Figueroa, this entry stands out with its sculpted columns. The statues that can be found on either side of the balcony represent art and science. At the top level is a statue of Saint Telmo. On the side of this statue is the statue of Saint Hermenegild, and on its right, the statue of Saint Ferdinand. A spiral facade crowns this impressive entrance.
The facade along the Avenida de Palos de la Frontera is decorated with 12 statues of important figures in the history of Seville, such as Murillo and Velázquez (famous painters) and Rodrigo Ponce de León, a military leader during the reconquest of Granada in 1492. The life-size statues are Antonio Susillo’s work and were installed in 1895.
Avenida de Roma, Sevilla, 41013
Bus: 5, 34, 35, 40, 41, 42, C1, C2
Maria Luisa Park
Maria Luisa Park was established in the late 19th century. This oasis of greenery offers Seville residents but also tourists visiting the city the opportunity to relax in a shady place during the hot summer months. Some very beautiful buildings, a legacy of the 1929 world fair held in Seville, can be found throughout the park.
This large park is located near the historic center of Seville. It’s the most important green area of the entire city, decorated with plenty of benches, fountains, pools, statues and monuments. There’s even a small mountain, the Monte Gurugú, with an artificial waterfall and a small island with a gazebo. Most often, tourists head straight to the main attraction of the park: Plaza de Espana, a majestic crescent-shaped complex arranged around a central square.
The park is named after Princess María Luisa d’Orleans, who donated the grounds and the gardens of the San Telmo Palace to Seville, in 1893. The original design of the park, with wide alleys and plenty of fountains and monuments, was implemented in 1911 and 1914 by the French landscape architect Jean-Claude Forestier.
In 1929, Seville hosted the Ibero-American Exposition on the grounds of the Maria Luisa Park. This demonstration was meant to give a fillip to the local economy and improve ties with Spain’s former colonies, who all built impressive pavilions, many of which still stand today. Contrary to most such events, for the 1929 exposition, the pavilions were designed for the long term and not temporary. For the most pavilions, construction started 20 years before the opening of the fair. As a result, a large number of pavilions have been preserved over time and are now used as museums, consulates, offices and cultural institutions. The buildings are grouped around two squares, the Plaza de Espana and the Plaza de America. Both were designed by the same architect, Aníbal González, in a mixture of architectural styles.
The centerpiece of the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 and one of Seville’s top attractions is the wonderful Plaza de Espana, an impressive complex arranged around a central square. Some ceramic tiled bridges cross the small canal that separates the plaza from the massive brick building.
Three former pavilions, all designed by Aníbal González, are found around the other plaza, Plaza de America, a very a beautiful square with flowerbeds and a central pond. Each of the three buildings has its own architectural style. The small Royal Pavilion, located in the north of the plaza, was designed in a flamboyant Gothic style, while Pavilion of Fine Arts, which today houses the Archaeological Museum, was built in a Renaissance style. The Mudéjar Pavilion – now the Museum of Andalusian Folk Arts can also be admired in the east and west of the Plaza de America.
The Parliament of Andalusia
The Parliament of Andalusia is housed in a large complex of buildings built in the 16th century. It was originally built outside the city walls to serve as a hospital. The hospital building was renovated and converted in 1992 to house the parliamentary offices. The Autonomous Parliament of Andalusia has its seat in this former hospital, called Hospital de las Cinco Llagas (Hospital of the Five Wounds). The hospital was founded in 1500, when Pope Alexander VI gave Doña Catalina his blessing to establish a hospital in Seville. The hospital was originally set up in a temporary location in the Calle Santiago, somewhere near Casa de Pilatos. Catalina’s son, Don Fadrique Enríquez de Ribera, the first marquis of Tarifa, decided to build a new hospital on the outskirts of the city, near the Macarena Basilica.
Construction started in 1546 under the direction of Martín de Gainza, who had earlier collaborated on the construction of Seville’s city hall. It was not until 1613 that the vast complex was completed. It was built in a renaissance style. The building is structured around several courtyards; originally nine, eight are left today. In the center of the south wing is a large portal, designed by Asensio de Maeda in a Spanish Baroque style. This entrance leads straight to the hospital church, which dominates the central courtyard. The church was built in 1560 by Hernán Ruiz the Younger and is now used for parliamentary meetings.
The hospital was abandoned in the 1960s and stood empty for many years, until 1992, when it was restored to serve as the seat of the Parliament of Andalusia, which became an Autonomous Community of Spain in 1981. In front of the parliamentary building is a modern garden with a statue of Hercules, originally created for the Universal Exposition of 1992 in Seville.
Plaza de España (Spanish Square)
The Plaza de España is a majestic architectural complex built to serve as the central department of the Ibero-American Exposition, an event held in Seville in 1929 that aimed to strengthen relations between Spain and the former colonies in Latin America. The Plaza de España is located in the Maria Luisa Park, near the historic center of Seville.
The 1929 Ibero-American Exposition was held in Seville to improve the ties between Spain, Portugal and their former colonies. Each country built a pavilion and in contrary to most world fairs, these pavilions were built to last. The centerpiece and administrative offices of the world fair were the Plaza de Espana, designed by architect Anibal Gonzalez, who was also involved in constructing several other world fair pavilions. Today the building is occupied by government offices and by the general office of the regional army.
The Plaza de España is a harmonious complex in a Renaissance style, which was very popular at the time. The red brick structure is decorated with colorful tiles. Two tall towers are connected to a central structure by a gallery with many columns. The curved facade follows the contours of a square with a massive central fountain. The plaza is surrounded by a canal and beautiful bridges decorated with ceramic tiles which connect the plaza with a wide promenade that runs along the front of the building.
The entire complex is decorated with azulejos, painted tiles that are very popular in Seville and can be found all across the city. The building’s facade, a row of street lamps and the bridges of the Plaza de Espana are decorated with colorful azulejos. But the showpiece is the series of 58 benches that are found along the facade of the main building. The benches are completely covered with azulejos and depict a series of allegorical paintings representing the provinces of Spain.
City Hall (Ayuntamiento)
The City Hall of Seville or Ayuntamiento is located between the Plaza de San Francisco and Plaza Nueva. It was built in the early 16th century in a Renaissance style. In the 15th century, the 24 delegates of Seville that formed the city council gathered at the Plaza de la Virgen de Los Reyes, near the the Giralda tower. After Seville obtained the monopoly on trade with the New World in 1503, it was decided that the city had become too important for the officials to gather outside and plans to build a city hall were initiated. The location chosen for the building, then known as the Consistorial Palace, was the historic Plaza de San Francisco.
Construction of the City Hall of Seville started in 1527, under the supervision of Diego de Riaño and was completed seven years later. The facade of the building bordering the Plaza de San Francisco is wonderfully decorated in a style known as “Plateresque”, a version of the Renaissance style, characterized by many intricate architectural decorations. The facade is decorated with mythical and historical figures, including Hercules, considered the founder of Seville – and Julius Caesar, who rebuilt the city after defeating Pompey here. One can also see the symbol of Seville (NO8DO) above the magnificent elaborate door. The east side of the building, facing Plaza Nueva, is less ornate. With a neoclassical style, it was created in 1891 when the building of the City Hall of Seville was renovated and expanded by architects Demetrio de los Ríos and Balbino Marrón.
The old part of the building that houses the City Hall of Seville has some magnificently decorated rooms with sculpted ceilings and a number of woodwork. Some Gothic-Renaissance staircases connect the ground floor with the upper floor. Some of the most beautiful rooms include the Sala Capitular, the Sala de los Fieles Ejecutores, the Salón Colón and the Casa Consistorial, which has a beautiful ceiling. The rooms are decorated with paintings by great artists, such as Velazquez, Zurbarán and Valdés Lea
Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza
The historic bullring of Seville was built in the 18th century. The arena, which has a seating capacity of about 12 500 is one of the most famous bullrings in all of Spain. In the past, bullfights were held at the Plaza de San Francisco, a historic square near the City Hall of Seville. The first temporary wooden arena was built in 1730, near the current location of the Plaza de Toros. The arena had a rectangular shape, which was an advantage for the bulls, which could retreat in one of the corners. It was considered unsafe for the bullfighters and in 1933 the structure was replaced by a circular wood arena.
In 1761 it was decided to erect a permanent venue at the site of a world exposition. The superb bullring we see today was designed by Vicente San Martin, who created an elegant structure in a specific local architectural style. It would take more than a century before the arena was finally completed, which happened in 1881. Today it can host about 12,500 spectators.
Even if you are not bullfighting enthusiasts, the Plaza de Toros de Maestranza is worth a visit if only for its historic architecture. Guided tours lead visitors through the arena, via a small chapel – where toredos pray not to be struck, impaled by a bull’s horns – and the stables, where you’ll see the horses of the picadores (horsemen who jab a bull with a lance). Also a part of the Plaza de Toros is the Museum of the History of Bullfights, where paintings, costumes and other objects regarding the great toreros can be admired.
At the foot of the bullring is a statue of Francisco Romero López, better known under the name of Curro Romero, a very famous torero from Seville, who was active from the 1950s until the 1990s.
Paseo de Cristobal Colon, 12
41001 Seville, Spain
Tram: the Plaza Nueva