Seville certainly is one of the most beloved places by visitors to Spain. Although today Moorish influence is architectonically most evident – Andalusia was occupied by Moors for about 800 years – it has been a cultural center long before. The fertility of this land and its favorised climate with mild winters and about 3000 hours of sun per year (if you ever have visited it in August, where temperatures can arrive to some 47°C, perhaps you will deny to call it favorised) made Phoenicians and Carthaginians settle here. Later came Romans, like almost to any place in Europe, and two of their emperors, Trajan and Hadrian, in fact were born here.
Also later on Seville was the home of famous and infamous figures of history, the legendary “Don Juan” started from here to conquer the hearts of women across all Europe, while Columbus started from a port close to Seville to discover a new world. Prosper Merimée’s “Carmen”, who couldn’t make her decision between the officer Don José and the bullfighter Escamillo – the consequences you can watch still today in opera houses – was a worker in Seville’s old tobacco factory. By the way, this factory serves today as University, a fact that might give you a glimpse on Andalusian talent for improvisation.
When you visit this city, you are in the very heart of Andalusian culture, the center of bullfighting and Flamenco music. Take yourself time and take life easy, as Andalusians use to do, and interrupt sightseeing from time to time to have a few “tapas”, those typical “small spanish dishes”, and a glass of Sherry wine in one of the probably thousands of bars in this city, and consider a few of the hints on the following pages to make your stay a memorable one.
Visits Mon-Fri 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sun 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Seville’s cathedral, the third-largest in the world, has a long and moving history: over an original Roman foundation base Goths built a temple, of which today is only conserved a small fountain in the Patio de los Naranjos the “courtyard of the orange trees”, which itself is together with the mighty tower, Giralda, a rest of the Moorish mosque that was built here lateron. After the reconquest of the town by the Christians in 11th century was started the construction of today’s cathedral, work that lasted 5 centuries. Most of it is in late gothic and plateresque styles, though we find important Renaissance elements as well. Specially remarkable are the Flemish glass-works and the treasures in the cathedral’s museum.
The minaret of the old Moorish mosque, today the tower of the cathedral, is this city’s landmark. In the time when it was built it was the highest building in the world. Today, including some additions made by the Christians with a huge bronze statue at its top, the Giralda measures 97,5 meters. You may enjoy from here a fantastic view over all the city.
Visits Tue-Sat 10.30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun 10.30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mon closed.
Also this great Arabian style palace was built during various epochs. Its first fortifications probably date of 884 and were made to defend the town of the Normans. Lateron Moorish Caliph Mohammed V. had built here a king’s palace by architects and artists from Granada and Toledo.But the major part of today’s palace was constructed after the Christian reconquest of the town in 1248, by King Pedro “The Cruel”.
Another important part, Casa de la Contratación, was made after the discovery of America.
A visit is interesting in particular for the expositions of many objects of the Moorish epoch, including a collection of musical instruments. During the summer season frequently are performed concerts in the great gardens of the palace, which are a truly fantastic experience to listen to.
The baroque Archiepiscopal Palais, located face to face to the Giralda, dates of 16th and 17th century.
Archivo de Indias
Visits Mon-Fri 1030 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sun closed.
Originally a stock-exchange building made in 1572 because Archbishop Sandoval wanted to give a new “home” to the merchants of the town, who until then used to close their deals in the Patio de los Naranjos. In 1785 it became the “Archivo General de Indias”, the archive of all documents related to the discovery of America. The Renaissance building itself is a work of architect Juan Herrera.
Torre de Oro
Visits Tue-Fri 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sat, Sun 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The octagonal Moorish “Gold-Tower” was originally part of the town-walls along Guadalquivir river. Its name comes from the golden ceramic tiles which originally covered its front. In the Christian epoch the tower served as seat of the marine’s administration. Today it is used as Museum of Navigation.
Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza
Visits Mon-Sat 10 a.m. to 1.30 p.m, Sundays and Holidays closed.
Seville’s famous bullring with its 116 asymmetrical balconies dates of 18th century. It has also a Bullfight-Museum.
Puente de Triana
The “Bridge of Triana” was built from 1845 to 1852 by French architects Steinacher and Bernadet. At one of its extremes is located a modernist chapel of Hannibal Gonzalez.
Antigua Estación de Córdoba
This former train-station, built in 1889, is considered a milestone of Sevillian architecture. It combines traditional elements of Moorish and Mudejar styles (the architects were concretely inspired by the Alhambra of Granada and the Mosque of Tanger) with modernist influences, mainly of French origins.
Old Tobacco Factory
Seville’s old tobacco factory became world-famous for its role in the opera Carmen. Since 1929 the building is used as University.
Interesting from the artistical point of view are its portal, with sculpture works of Cayetano de Acosta and the chapel “Hermandad de los Estudiantes”, with a Jesus Christ of Juan de Mesa.
Palace of San Telmo
One of the most beautiful examples of Sevillian baroque style, built in 17th and 18th century.
Plaza de España
An impressive work of Seville’s best known modernist style architect, Hannibal Gonzalez. It was made for the “Ibero-American Exposition 1929″ and is located in the center of “Maria-Luisa-Park”, forming a semi-circle around an artificial lake. The two highly individual towers at its both extremes and the great ceramic ornaments which symbolize the provinces of Spain make it one of the most characteristical buildings in town.
Visits Tue-Sun 9 a.m. to 2.30 p.m, Mon closed.
Another outstanding work of Hannibal Gonzalez for the “Ibero-American Exposition 1929″. The facade shows influences of Arabian palaces. Today the building serves as Museum of Popular Customs.
Visits Tue-Sun 9 a.m. to 2.30 p.m., Mon closed.
Located side to side to the former building, another work of Hannibal Gonzalez of the same time. The Museum shows numerous objects of high interest.
Another exposition pavilion of the same architect, this time showing influences of gothic architecture and again outstanding ceramic works.
One of the most impressive examples of plateresque style, built in 16th century. Its facade on San Francisco Square was modified in 19th century.
Visits daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
This outstanding palace dates of late 15th and early 16th century. It is said that its original owner, the Marquis of Tarifa, was that impressed by the palace of Pontius Pilatus when he visited in during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, that he had built here a copy of it. This legend at least explains this building’s popular name.
In its construction were used mosaics and other objects found at the Roman Ruins of Itálica, which give it a quite unique ambience. Worth seeing are as well the frescos of Francisco Pacheco, dating of 1603, and the valuable collection of antiquities.
Columns of Hercules
Remains of a Roman temple, located at the main square of the district La Alameda.