Seville, Spain, is the humble flower that blossoms next to the larger, beautiful ones but quietly takes the prize for the prettiest of them all. Seville hides in the shadow of its neighbors: Barcelona, Madrid, and Granada. It is a dazzling beauty immersed in a sunny glow that is waiting to be discovered by more unsuspecting tourists.
Seville is the prize of Andalucía, and it takes the crown deservingly.
What’s in the culture?
Seville’s culture operates to its own unique rhythm, and it is palpable in the streets. There is no rush in the daily life; Spaniards take their time strolling down the streets and chatting with their friends. The carefree nature of the city is contagious, and you will soon be relaxed and perfectly at ease.
Not to mention, there is a siesta integrated into every day of Spanish life. The mid-day slump undeniably happens to everybody, but Spaniards intentionally schedule their day around it.
The daily siesta is a habit of Spain, but it is practiced more religiously in Seville. During the daytime hours of 2-4, working Sevillanos (natives of Seville) return home for a meal, a nap, and relaxation. Stores and restaurants are usually closed during these hours. The siesta is a unique plus to the Spanish culture, and you will enjoy it to its fullest in Seville.
Bullfighting and flamenco are two traditions that are engrained in the culture of Seville. Tourists have the opportunity to attend a bullfight in the arena close to the river, and flamenco is such a staple of the city that flamenco dancers will sometimes take to the streets. The history of bull fighting and flamenco is fascinating, and Seville has its own style of both. It’s best to embrace and enjoy these cultural distinctions.
Another highlight of Seville is the notion of tapas, Spain’s version of appetizers. Tapas are a constant in Seville. Be warned: meal times in Spain also operate to the distinctly Spanish rhythm. Lunch in Seville is usually at 2:30, and dinner isn’t until 9 or 10 in the evening. Tapas are the filler you need in between meals. They could be as simple as fried provolone cheese and crackers or as elegantly prepared as fresh prawns in Spain’s famous olive oil with garlic and chili peppers. Tapas are a necessary part of the to-do list in order for you to indulge in all of Seville’s culture.
What’s in the city?
Seville has a historic, regal feel to it that you can’t ignore. The streets shine at night from the glow of the cathedral, fountains, and shops. During the day, there is an evident warmth about the bright colors and the timeworn streets. There are historical sites, tourist attractions, and concealed local gems that make up the life of the city.
First, the Plaza de España has a lure and charm that only Seville could contain. It is a large space of towering Moorish-style buildings that half-encircle canals, bridges, and an elaborate fountain. The plaza was the filming site for Naboo of Star Wars, and many Star Wars fans would jump at the opportunity to walk around in the real-world fantasy. The Plaza de España has a beauty and a powerful appeal that you have to experience in person.
The Seville Cathedral is the third largest cathedral in the world and the largest in terms of gothic cathedrals. It claims its location in the middle of the city and displays its grandeur for all tourists to see. As part of a constant battle in historic Spain between Muslims and Christians, the location of the cathedral used to host a mosque. The giralda tower, where Muslim officials used to give the call to worship, stands directly next to the cathedral today as the only remains of the mosque. If you’re going to be interested to see any cathedral, it’s going to be this one.
The Alcázar of Seville is a major attraction for tourists. In history, it stood as a palace for Moorish kings. Today, it is on the same extravagant street as the cathedral. The Alcazar gives you an opportunity to read into history, roam through the corridors, explore the gardens, and just lavish the tranquility of ancient palace.
Next, there is the neighborhood of Santa Cruz, the hidden but essential destination in Seville. The streets are narrow and exploding with color. The neighborhood used to be the home of many discriminated Jews during the medieval times. Now it’s a place for adorable local shops and winding streets that only locals can successfully maneuver. Impromptu Spanish guitar sing-a-longs and flamenco dances occur weekly in the nooks and corners of this area. Get lost in Santa Cruz and discover precious jewels of Seville’s untouched true culture.
Located right on the Guadalquiver river, the Torre del Oro is the defensive fortress built in the early 13th century. Soldiers utilized the tower to protect their precious Seville from any invaders. Today, it stands as a symbol of Seville, and tourists may climb to get a panorama of the city and the river.
Finally, the structure of the Setas, or the literal English translation “mushrooms,” is beautiful but controversial. It is a massive piece of artwork that stands in the middle of a plaza. Sevillanos sometimes harbor contempt against the Setas because it is a modern, contemporary structure that was plopped in the middle of an anciently rich city. However, a splash of present-day elegance gives Seville an edge. Not to mention, if you climb up to the top of the Setas, you get a free drink.
If there for a longer period of time, you must also wander around the city and discover the many parks that offer a respite in the middle of the busy city.
What’s there to do?
The activities in Seville will you keep you entertained for longer than a week’s vacation. Besides wandering around the magical city and drinking in all of the sites, here is a short compiled list of must-dos.
- Climb to the top of the giralda tower to see the best view of Seville.
- Row boats around the canal in the Plaza de España.
- Explore the inside palace and gardens of the Alcazar.
- Kayak on the river.
- See a Flamenco show in the Santa Cruz neighborhood.
- Go to a bullfight in the Plaza de Toros.
- Dine and walk down Calle Betis on the river.
- Ride in a horse carriage around the city.
- Check out the Italian ruins – just a short bus ride out of the city.
- Appreciate the modern side of Seville and climb to the top of Setas sculpture.
What’s there to pack?
To prepare for your invigorating trip to Seville, you must pack accordingly. The following items will practically aid you in tackling Seville.
1. Euros. Spain is part of the European Union, and other types of currencies are not accepted. ATMs are scattered all over the city, but they often charge a lot. It’s a good idea to bring plenty of euros with you on your trip.
2. Sevici pass. Locals walk and bike to get around. Walking around the massive city can be tiring, so a bike pass allows you to rent a bike from the hundreds of stations around the city. The passes are relatively priced and incredibly practical.
3. Layers. Seville can reach high temperatures in the afternoons, but the mornings can sometimes be a little cooler. Since you will most likely be outside, layers are key. Dress so that you can be warm in the mornings but are able to take off pieces of clothing to endure the scorching heat of the afternoon.
4. Snacks. Spaniards eat three standard meals a day: right away in the morning, at 2:30 in the afternoon, and not until 9 or 10 in the evening. Restaurants follow this meal pattern closely and do not open until after 8 in the evenings. When tapas aren’t an option, snacks will equip you for the drawn-out gaps in between meals.
5. Camera. Seville has amazing sites that need to be captured. Explore, enjoy, and keep the beauty forever.
Hopefully this trip will be on your list as the trip of a lifetime. There is so much to see, do, and experience that you certainly will remember it forever.
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By: Hannah Veldkamp
* Photo Credit: Streets of Santa Cruz - Kristen Troya - https://www.instagram.com/kristentroya