I have always regarded Seville as the rustic heart of Spain. Known for its stunning tapas, beautiful Moorish architecture, and its labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets, Seville has long been on my to-do list. So when British Airways announced a daily service from London Gatwick, I didn’t hesitate in booking some flights.
Getting to Seville
When the route was launched British Airways advertised an introductory fare in Club Europe for £199 return. I went online and found many dates available at this price and booked my flights for late September, as by then I hoped that the scorching summer heat would have subsided.
Somewhere to Stay
Once I had my dates secured I logged onto my hotels.com account, as I had two reward nights to use. I try and book as often as possible with hotels.com because for every 10 nights you book, you receive a free night. The allowance for the free night is worked out as an average value of the 10 nights booked. You can also top up with cash if you want a more expensive room.
I booked the Fontecruz Sevilla Autograph Collection. Autograph Collection is a small high-end collection of individual hotels by Marriott. I chose this hotel for two main reasons: firstly for its great location, literally just round the corner from the cathedral, and secondly for its unique look. The rooms were stylish and modern, however they have also retained many of the building’s beautiful original features.
Things to do
Built by Moorish Muslim Kings, Reales Alcázares de Sevilla (Royal Alcazars of Seville) is the oldest royal palace in Europe that is still in use. The palace is the most beautiful in the whole of Spain, and was registered as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1987 along with Seville Cathedral. Parts of the palace are used by the royal family as their official residence in Seville.
The palace is open year round (apart from certain holidays) from 9:30 – 17:00 daily (19:00 in the summer). Admission is 9.50€ each, and this included access to the whole ground floor of the palace as well as the extensive and beautiful gardens. I arrived late morning and spent a good 4 hours exploring the beautiful Moorish architecture and lush green gardens. Some great photo opportunities are to be had here, and it is also one of the sets for ‘Game of Thrones’.
Place de España and Parque de María Luisa
Seville hosted the Ibero-American Exposition World’s Fair in 1929, which was located in the Parque de María Luisa. The southern end of the city was entirely redeveloped into an area of grand boulevards and beautiful gardens. In Parque de María Luisa numerous buildings were constructed, as well as a half mile area of tiled fountains, pavilions, lakes and water features, all surrounded by palms, citrus trees, pines and flower beds. This was created to be a Moorish paradise.
In the centre of the park lies Plaza de España. This was the main building for the exhibition. It is based around a semi-circular moat, with an island and a huge fountain in the centre, with the buildings surrounding it on the curved edge. The main building has an undercover walkway that spans the entire length of the building, decorated with tiled alcoves, each one representing a different province of Spain.
From the centre of the old town Parque de María Luisa is about a half hour walk, but definitely worth it. The stunning architecture and ornate tiling on the buildings is something not to be missed while in Seville.
Metropol Parasol and Antiquarium
Located in Encarnación Square, within the old town of Seville is the Metropol Parasol. Completed in 2011 it is the world’s largest wooden structure. The Metropol Parasol is also popularly known as Las Setas de la Encarnación, and even the Mushrooms of Seville
Inspired by the vaults of the cathedral of Seville as well as the ficus trees in Plaza de Cristo de Burgos, the structure is formed from 6 giant mushrooms. Under the mushroom parasols you can find Seville’s central markets, a range of cafes and bars, an open-air plaza, and the basement is home to the Antiquarium. You can visit the top of the structure for beautiful panoramic views over Seville. Entrance is just 3€ each and includes a free drink at one of the bars below.
I visited the roof and must say the views are amazing. There is a path to follow which takes you round the top of all the mushrooms, stopping at vantage points on the way for great photo opportunities. Afterwards I visited the Antiquarium to discover more about the Roman and Moorish history of the city. The ruins found here are very impressive, and a great insight into the history of Seville. Entrance to the Antiquarium is 2€ per person.
Tower of Gold
The Tower of Gold, or Torre del Oro in Spanish, is an ancient military watchtower located by the river in Seville. The tower was built in the 13th century as a watchtower, and also used as a prison. It got the name Tower of Gold due to the building materials that were used, because they project a gold shine on the river at certain times of the day.
Today the tower is home to a maritime museum, showcasing artefacts and paintings from the era when Seville was a major port town. A visit here is a good insight into Seville’s history. The top level is open air and offers some great views over Seville. However, be prepared for lots of steps.
Eating in Seville
Seville is full of tapas bars, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed eating in any of them. During my few days in Seville I tried 4 different tapas bars, but located just a stone’s-throw from the hotel was the best one by far, La Tradicional. I ate here on my first evening in Seville. The food was beautiful and the portions a bit on the large size for tapas, but all were beautifully executed. I was expecting this to be quite a pricey tapas bar given the size of the portions and its great location, with views of the cathedral from the tables outside. I was pleasantly surprised with a bill of just over 50€ for 5 dishes shared between two and a few drinks each.
Bushi, although not Spanish is definitely worth a try. If you hadn’t already guessed from the unusual name, it is a burger and sushi restaurant. Located under the Metropol Parasol, this little place was busy every time I passed. I couldn’t resist but give it a try, and I’m glad I did. There is a huge range of different sushi platters to try and many different burgers. Their burgers are themed on a variety of different cuisines, I had an oriental burger which was served with spices and shiitake mushrooms, in a curry flavoured bun. I also had a mixed platter of sushi to go with my burger: Such a fun combination, with really great prices. Bushi really is worth a visit if you like burgers and sushi.
For Next Time…
You will never see everything that a city has to offer in only a few days, and it would be a shame if you did, as this would give you no reason to return!
I will return to Seville as there is so much I didn’t get the chance to see on this trip such as the Plaza America, the inside of the Cathedral and its tower. I also want to visit one of the cities many flamenco dancing shows, and also enjoy a day trip to Jerez to try some of the city’s world famous sherry.