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Seville

Photo by kkmarais

Seville Itineraries

Seville in 48 Hours

Seville in One Day

Seville Tapas Tour

Seville’s Awesome Artworks

Seville’s Golden Age of Adventure

Seville is Spanish for romance

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Seville deserves its reputation for romance. It’s a beguiling place full of ornately lovely architecture, pretty streets and unexpected squares. It really is an ideal city break destination. Its historic center is compact and easy to walk around, there’s plenty to see and do, but it’s not overwhelming. Food and drink options are plentiful and good. And there’s a host of excellent, very atmospheric hotels to rest your feet and enjoy a well-earned glass after a day exploring.


Seville travel guide

The city’s must-see monuments for me are the vast cathedral a natural focus for the city, the wonderfully romantic Alcazar royal palace and the colourfully ornate Plaza de Espana. Other impressive palace houses well worth your time are the Casa de Pilatos and the Casa de la Condesa de Lebrija.

On the museum front, fans of flamenco should visit the excellent Flamenco Museum, the city’s Fine Arts Museum is stuffed with wonderful works by Seville’s many famous painters down the ages, and the Archecological Museum is a trove of ancient finds – particularly strong on Roman remains.

If you’re more into just relaxing and enjoying the city’s unique atmosphere, strolling around the historic Santa Cruz district, taking a river cruise or going on a horse and carriage ride are top of the list.

Need some help deciding?
Try one of my walking tours which link together a selection of the best sites and attractions:
– For a busy day seeing the best of the city try My Best Day in Seville tour
– For a fun evening of bar hopping and tapas tasting try My Tapas Tour
– If art is your thing go for My Art Lovers’ tour.


Hotels in Seville

Seville has a huge variety and number of hotels. I’ve looked around a lot of them and know many of the staff that work there. The hotels I’ve included are the best of the bunch in my opinion. I’ve chosen them across several price brackets too. From mid-range good value to ultra-expensive.

If money is no object consider the swankiest place in town the Alfonso XIII part of the Starwood collection. But before you book, check out the Palacio de Villapanes which I think has a touch more charm and the Mercer Sevilla, a sleak, boutique bolthole with just 12 rooms.

For luxury and charm without quite such a high price tag there’s a clutch to choose from. My favourites are the Casas del Rey de Baeza and the Casa 1800, closely followed by the Casas de La Juderia or the Corral del Rey. All of them are converted historic houses and uniquely lovely.

Still quite charming but a little cheaper with a great roof terrace the Fontecruz Sevilla is pretty impressive.

Mid-range, friendly and well located options include the excellent Alminar with possibly the friendliest staff in the city, along with the Murillo and the Amadeus la Musica – particularly recommended for music lovers.


===> See the RELATED links below to explore local itineraries.


Food and Drink in Seville

Sevillians take their food and drink seriously. Unlike much of the rest of Europe, many locals still take a proper lunchbreak that easily lasts a couple of hours. There are heaps of places to eat in the city. I’ve included places I know well and really rate in this app.

For fine dining of the gourmet kind Abantal is the city’s only Michelin starred eaterie and it’s excellent. Following close behind, two of the city’s more traditional restaurants Casa Robles and Enrique Becerra are recommended as well.

Another more contemporary restaurant that I highly rate is Porta Rossa which turns really fabulous Italian food at very reasonable prices. Many of the city’s top chefs trained at the Taberna del Alabardero cookery school and the restaurant here is also highly recommended. It does a particularly good value lunch menu.

Cheap but good Al Solito Posto is a nice neighborhood pizza and pasta place and La Habanita is a decent option for veggies.

And then, of course, there’s tapas. I virtually live off them when I am in town. I’ve written some more about tapas and you can also do my Top Tapas Tour.


When To Go

Late spring and fall/autumn are the perfect times to visit Seville. In late April and early May the scent of orange blossom perfumes the air and the sun is warm but not too hot. The weather gets increasingly hot as the summer progresses. June is usually quite bearable but July and August are baking and best avoided.

Late September and October offer sunny days and mild nights. Visiting Seville during the main festival season for Semana Santa (Holy Week) and the Feria de Abril (late March and early April, see Events & Holidays) provides an unforgettable experience, but the city is packed out, accommodation is hard to find, and prices correspondingly high.

November to March can have some pleasant sunny weather but chilly nights and wet days. Some hotel rooms can feel very cold, but you can benefit from bargain room rates, and the tourist numbers drop appreciably.

How Much Time To Spend

Seville is a big city with suburbs that seem to just roll on for ever. But the main tourist sights are clustered inside and close to the old city walls so it’s a very manageable destination for sightseeing.

If time isn’t an issue, you could easily spend a week here seeing all there is to see and really getting under the skin of the city, but 3 or 4 nights is probably the optimum duration.

If you’re in a hurry, 2 nights is adequate for seeing the main sights and sampling the city’s unique atmosphere.

High and Low Season

High season is the European shoulder seasons of spring and fall/autumn with a particular focus on the two main festivals of Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Feria dApril (the April Fair) in late March/early April.

Summer is low season when it gets really hot and many locals escape to the coast. Some hotels and many restaurants and shops shut for the month of August in particular.

Weather and Climate

Seville’s climate varies depending on the season. Spring and fall/autumn are delightful with warm, bright, long sunny days. It rarely falls to freezing in winter, but it’s often damp and cool. Locals moan about the humidity. Surrounding hills get chilly, even snowy.
July and August are best avoided as Seville boils under the summer sun, regularly notching up the highest temperatures in Spain. Temperatures of 100°F are common. Many places shut as locals head for the coast to escape the heat.

Events and Holidays

Spring
Seville’s two biggest annual events take place around Easter. During Semana Santa (Holy Week), from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, flamboyant processions take place across the city parading effigies of Christ and the Virgin Mary through the streets, accompanied by morbid-looking white-hooded nazarenos (Nazarenes). Holy Week also kicks off the bullfighting season. The Feria de Abril follows, around two weeks after Easter. The sombre mood of Semana Santa is forgotten and people celebrate spring donning traditional flamenco costume. A large fairground comes to town, the streets are jammed and virtually no one goes to bed before dawn.

Summer
May heralds the beginning of the month-long Festival Internacional de Teatro y Danza (International Theater and Dance Festival), where world class companies perform in the city’s main concert hall, the Teatro de la Maestranza, and at Itálica. Seville’s Patron Saint Ferdinand is honored on May 30 with celebrations in the cathedral. Corpus Christi is celebrated a week or so later with a procession of the enormous silver monstrance and branches of rosemary strewn around the streets. In August, when it’s seriously hot, evening events are organized outdoors with theater in the Alcázar gardens and outdoor movies. Across the river in Triana, the Velada de Santa Ana takes place with food stalls and plank-walking competitions.

Fall/Autumn
Fall is particularly good for arts and entertainment in Seville. The Bienal de Arte Flamenco takes place during the last two weeks of September every two years, in even-numbered years. World-class artists perform to rapturous crowds. There’s also the annual Sevilla en Otoño season–a variety of cultural events which takes place throughout the city during the months of September, October and November, including dance, theatrical and musical performances. In early November, the Festival Internacional de Jazz takes place, attracting stars from around the world. And later in the month the Seville Film Festival offers arthouse and contemporary European cinema.

Winter
The Christmas period dominates festivals in winter. Parents dress their children up in 16th-century costumes and take them to church to sing and dance before the main altar in celebration of the day of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. Wandering minstrels take to the streets around Plaza del Triunfo and Santa Cruz. Parades also take place throughout Andalusia on January 6. Día de los Reyes (Three Kings Day) marks the eve of the festival of Epiphany. Three kings ride through town in a procession throwing sweets to the onlooking children.

Time Zone

Seville is located in the Central European Time zone (CET) – typically it’s one hour ahead of the UK

To check the local time in Seville, click here.

Daylight Saving Time (DST) happens in the Spring (last Sunday in March at 1AM) when clocks are advanced one hour. In the Autumn (last Sunday in October at 1AM), clocks shift back one hour to standard time to give more daylight in the morning.

What To Pack and Wear

What you pack will depend on the time of year you visit. Outside the cool winter months of December and January, sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses are a good idea and maybe a water bottle to help keep hydrated. If you do visit in winter it can be quite chilly so take a warm jumper or fleece, a waterproof and an umbrella.

Most decent hotels will have a pool for cooling off in hotter months so take swimming gear. You could well spend quite a bit of time walking around the old city as cars are banned from big parts of it so a small rucksack/backpack to carry stuff around in and a decent pair of comfortable walking shoes make sense too.

Seville’s plug sockets are the standard European round two-prong variety so take an adapter if you’re visiting from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the UK.

I’d also recommend taking a simple phrasebook – in particular to help translate menu items in tapas bars. Outside the tourist centre (where personally I wouldn’t eat anyway) it’s rare to find translations in English.

What it Costs

Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest. Price ranges are quoted in Euros (€) and UK Pounds (£).

See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
Free
$ => Tickets less than €10 per person
$$ => Tickets €10-20 per person
$$$ => Tickets €20 per person

Sleep
Out of town/rural:
$ => Rooms less than €60 for a double
$$ => Rooms €60 – €120 for a double
$$$ => Rooms €120 for a double

Large Cities:
$ => Rooms less than €100 for a double
$$ => Rooms €100 – €180 for a double
$$$ => Rooms €180 for a double

Eat
$ => Up to €10 for average main at dinner (or lunch/breakfast if no dinner is served)
$$ => €10-25 for average main at dinner (or lunch/breakfast if no dinner is served)
$$$ => €25 for average main at dinner (or lunch/breakfast if no dinner is served)

Shop
N/A => Not applicable

Tours
$ => Tickets less than €20 per person
$$ => Tickets €20-30 per person
$$$ => Tickets €30 per person

Abstract Pricing at a Glance

Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest. Price ranges are quoted in Euros (€) and UK Pounds (£).

See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
Free                                                                 Free
$ => Tickets less than €10 per person                        UK:  Tickets less than £10 per person
$$ => Tickets €10-20 per person                    UK:  Tickets £10 -£20 per person
$$$ => Tickets €20 per person                     UK:  Tickets £20 per person

Sleep
Out of town/rural:
$ => Rooms less than €60 for a double          UK:  Rooms less than £45 for a double
$$ => Rooms €60 – €120 for a double                        UK:  Rooms £45 – £90 for a double
$$$ => Rooms €120 for a double                 UK:  Rooms £90 for a double

Large Cities:
$ => Rooms less than €100 for a double        UK:  Rooms less than £75 for a double
$$ => Rooms €100 – €180 for a double          UK:  Rooms £75 – £135 for a double
$$$ => Rooms €180 for a double                 UK:  Rooms £135 for a double

Eat
#Note new construct to swap in
$ => Up to €10 for average main at dinner (or lunch/breakfast if no dinner is served)
$$ => €10-25 for average main at dinner (or lunch/breakfast if no dinner is served)
$$$ => €25 for average main at dinner (or lunch/breakfast if no dinner is served)

UK
$ => Up to £8 for average main at dinner (or lunch/breakfast if no dinner is served)
$$ => UK £8 – £20 for average main at dinner (or lunch/breakfast if no dinner is served)
$$$ => UK £20 for average main at dinner (or lunch/breakfast if no dinner is served)

Shop
N/A => Not applicable

Tours
$ => Tickets less than €20 per person                        UK:  Tickets less than £20 per person
$$ => Tickets €20-30 per person                    UK:  Tickets £20-£30 per person
$$$ => Tickets €30 per person                     UK:  Tickets £30 per person

Airfare and Car Rental Prices

Fly the Friendly Skies

Airfares are a fickle thing. When you need it to be low, it’s high. And when prices dip, what happens? You can’t get off work to travel. Sigh.

But you can get notifications from companies like Kayak, which will email you when airfares drop. Type your destination and the dates you are watching and boom, when there’s a deal, you’ll hear about it immediately via your inbox.

Sites like Momondo also display prices for multiple airlines, so you can compare rates without visiting individual airline sites.

That said, there is an advantage to visiting an individual airline’s site. Why? Because some of their really great deals don’t show up on the aggregator airfare sites. Most airlines share limited-time, super-specials via their Facebook pages or email blasts. So it pays to be their ‘friend’ or subscribe to their e-mailings. European operators such as easyJet, Ryanair, Air France-KLM, Jet2,  British Airways, flybe and Lufthansa offer an extensive range of routes in Europe.

Have Car, Will Travel

Like airlines, car rental rates are all over the map. Companies like Expedia and Hotwire offer comparison price shopping.

Zipcar is another choice for rentals. Available in many major cities and college towns in the U.S., Zipcar is a great alternative for super-short term rentals. Picture this scenario: you are in a big city with terrific public transport, so you don’t need a car. But then you hear about an amazing restaurant 20 miles away in the suburbs. You can’t go home without trying it. A taxi would cost a fortune. You’d have to wait a long time to get a return taxi. Download the Zipcar app; search for a nearby Zipcar locale. Memberships cost about €8/£6 a month; rentals are about €8-13.50/£6-10 per hour; fuel and insurance are included.

Ride-sharing companies, such as Uber, are also ubiquitous in major cities. Through a smart phone app, you can line up rides all over town. It’s convenient because no money changes hands (payment is made through the app) and it’s usually cheaper than a taxi. Another bonus? After requesting a ride, you can see where the driver is on a map, so you know that they are on their way and how long it will be. Try that with a cab.

All the major car rental companies such as Avis, Sixt, Hertz and Europcar operate throughout Europe.  It is not normally possible to rent in the UK and take the vehicle to mainland Europe or vice versa.

Car hire in Seville
Car hire kiosks are on the ground floor of the airport terminal building as you exit arrivals. The cheapest by far is local company Auriga/Crown (954 516 808). Avis (954 449 121), Europcar (954 254 298) and Hertz ( 954 514 729) also have airport hire desks. The downtown location for car hire is the main Santa Justa Station on Avda de Kansas City

Insurance

Hopefully, your trip to (or within) Europe goes without a glitch. But what if an unexpected situation arises? Will you lose the money you invested in the trip? Will you need quick cash to cover sudden costs?

Travel insurance policies are meant to cover these unexpected costs and assist you when problems arise. The fee is typically based on the cost of the trip and the age of the traveler.

Most travel insurance providers offer comprehensive coverage that usually includes protection for the following common events:

Trip Cancellation — About 40 percent of all claims fall in this category.

Medical — Travellers within Europe from European Union member states should obtain an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) card which entitles them to healthcare on the same terms as citizens from the country they are visiting. This is a reciprocal agreement which means for example that EEA visitors to the UK will receive free care in NHS hospitals in the same way that UK residents do.  Some countries e.g. France make a charge known as a patient contribution for GP visits or stays in hospital for both their own citizens and visitors from the EEA. Even so, travellers are well advised to have additional medical insurance to cover for example the cost of repatriation, mountain rescue in ski resorts and other emergencies.

For travellers from outside the European Union the cost of health services in Europe, while not as high as in the US for example, can be relatively expensive for the uninsured. For this reason it is essential to consider purchasing medical insurance. If you have a Health Care Plan back home it may cover you for most situations which arise abroad but you need to check this out and in any case additional medical travel insurance will cover you for private health care or other expenses.

Some countries outside the European Union have a reciprocal agreement for healthcare with certain European countries.  For example Switzerland has an agreement with all European Union countries and Australia has agreements with the UK, the Netherlands, Italy and others. It pays to check before leaving home.

Trip Interruption — For example, if you become ill during your trip or if someone at home gets sick, and you have to get off the cruise ship or abandon a tour. The insurer will often pay up to 150% of the cost of your trip to get you home.

Travel Delay — Insurance usually covers incidentals like meals and overnight lodging while you wait to travel home.

Baggage — Insurance will typically cover lost and mishandled baggage.

Some insurance companies allow you to purchase a policy that allows you to cancel for any reason. This may cost more (often 10% or more), but it is worthwhile for certain travellers.

Do I need travel insurance?

If your trip is expensive it’s essential and even if it isn’t it’s certainly a good idea. Your age and health are important factors. Your English or other European language skills are also crucial because insurance policies often include concierge services with 24-hour hotlines that can connect you quickly with someone who speaks your language.

How do I choose an insurance provider?

Do your homework — check around.

The largest insurers in the U.S. include Travel Guard, Allianz and CSA Travel Protection. Smaller reputable companies include Berkley, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, Travel Insured International and Travelex. You may also find deals through aggregates like Squaremouth and InsureMyTrip.

Many airlines and travel companies also offer travel insurance when you book your flight (often contracted with the above major players).

In Europe the largest insurers are Allianz, Axa and Zurich but there are many smaller providers such as insureandgo and Direct Line.

Pre-existing health conditions — Many policies have exclusion policies if you have a pre-existing medical condition or charge an additional premium related to the condition.  Some companies also offer waivers that overwrite the exclusion if you purchase the policy within a certain time frame of paying for your trip (e.g., within 24 hours of buying your cruise package). Again, it’s best to check the fine print.

Credit card insurance — If you buy your airfare or trip with a credit card, you may be partially covered by the credit card’s issuing bank. Check directly with the company to find out exactly what’s covered, as many have “stripped down” coverage and restrictions.

Exchange Rates and Currency

The main currency of Europe is the Euro which is currently used in 25 countries a few of which are not even EU members. Some countries within the European Union have retained their original currency including the UK (Pound), Denmark (Kroner) and Poland (Zloty). Most non-EU countries such as Switzerland (Swiss Franc) and Turkey (Lira) continue to use their own currency. All are decimalised and have 100 ‘pennies’ in each main unit.

Euros come in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 notes. They vary in size from 120mm x 62mm (€5) to 160mm x 82mm (500) and colour, so it is easy to differentiate between them. All feature European architecture throughout the ages. (Smaller businesses may not accept the larger notes, so plan to have €20s or smaller notes in hand)

There are eight denominations of euro coin: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent plus a €1 and €2 coin. All have a common side and a national side. Remember to spend all coins before you leave – they can’t be exchanged!

UK pounds come in £1 (Scotland and N. Ireland and used only in these two countries), £5, £10, £20 and £50 and, like euro notes, come in different sizes ranging from 135mm x 70mm (£5) to 156mm x 85mm (£50) and all are different colours. The pound is often referred to by its slang name of a ‘Quid’.

There are eight denominations of British coin: 1p (penny), 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p plus a 1£ and £2 coin.  All feature Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse side and a segment of the UK Coat of Arms on the reverse side except the £2 coin which features a variety of designs. Again remember to spend all coins before you leave – they can’t be exchanged!

Many travellers like to have a small amount of local currency when they arrive in a country but this is becoming less and less important as ATMs and Bureaux de Change appear everywhere especially in transport terminals.

Money, ATMs, Credit Cards

ATMs
If you get money from an ATM machine abroad you will usually incur charges (typically 1.5 or 2% per transaction). Seville has plenty of banks and almost all have ATMs that accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

Credit Cards
Credit and debit cards are accepted widely throughout Europe.

Don’t forget to call your debit and/or credit card company before you travel to inform them of your planned itinerary. If you don’t do this in advance, you risk having your card denied/declined when you try to use it in a destination far from home. You should also call your company immediately to report loss or theft. The numbers to call are usually on the back of the card — which doesn’t make sense if they are lost or stolen. So make a note of them and store them where you’ll have easy access.

Recently, companies have been issuing cards with embedded chips that prevent counterfeit fraud. Banks and merchants that don’t offer the chip-and-PIN technology are beginning to be held liable for fraud. Check with your bank and credit card company for details on your specific cards.

Tipping and Costs That Add Up

The good news for travellers in Europe is that you don’t need to get stressed about tipping – you don’t have to do it and when you do it really should reflect good or excellent service rather than be something you are expected to do. On the whole workers in tourism are reasonably well paid and don’t depend upon tips to make up their wages. In some cases over-tipping can be embarrassing for all concerned.

Restaurants
Many restaurants include a ‘service’ charge in the price so check and, if it isn’t mentioned, then a tip of between 5 – 10% is quite enough. Even where it is included but you feel that you’ve had really excellent service then the same amount is adequate but ensure that your server receives this by handing it directly to them.

Other methods are to add a euro/pound for each member of the party or round up the bill to the nearest 5 or 10 euros/pounds.

In the UK many restaurants add an ‘optional’ amount to the bill when you are paying with plastic, but in many cases the servers don’t receive any of this and it simply becomes an extra profit for the owner. The server won’t mind if you decline to do this!

Taxis
With taxis, just round up to the next euro or pound for a short journey or, for a long ride, to the nearest ten. Again 10% is the maximum you should consider unless of course the driver carries your bags into the hotel or airport when a little more will be appreciated.

Hotels
You may wish to give the porter a euro or pound for each bag he carries but, while it will be appreciated, it is not normally expected. Similarly you may wish to leave a small tip for the housekeeping staff, especially if they have been particularly helpful, but this is completely up to you.

Other costs:
Invariably, there are incidental costs associated with being on the road. Make sure to budget between €10 (£7.50) and €40 (£30) or local equivalent per day for batteries, lost phone chargers, insect repellent, headache medicine, sunburn relief and other personal items you might have forgotten. If you’re traveling with kids, consider the snack budget. Local grocery, super/hypermarkets and pharmacies will be cheaper than tourist shops for all of the above.

Transportation

Reaching Seville from Europe is pretty easy. From the UK there are direct flights from London Gatwick (easyJet), London Heathrow (BA/Iberia) and Stansted (Ryanair). Flight time is around 2.5 hours.

There are no direct flights to Seville from the USA.

Would I fly all the way from the US to simply visit Seville? Probably not. You will probably fly via either London or Madrid and both cities are well worth stopping over in if you have time. BA/Iberia is probably your best bet as the two airlines are part of the same parent company and connections work well.

There are a lot of other options with a single stop though depending on your departure point from the USA. From New York for example you could also fly via Lisbon in Portugal with TAP or via Amsterdam with KLM or via Munich with Lufthansa.

An alternative to flying all the way to Seville is to fly to Madrid and then take the high speed train. More details in the Getting Around section.

Getting There

By Plane
San Pablo airport (954 449 000; 954 672 981 is 10 km north-east of the city center on the A4. There’s a convenient and inexpensive half-hourly bus service (6.15am to 11pm) marked EA on bus maps. It runs to the city center and takes about 30 minutes. It terminates at the main bus station, Prado de San Sebastián (see By Bus, below), which is a bit of a walk from most hotels if you have luggage so you’ll probably need to jump in a taxi or take the tram to complete your journey. The bus also stops at Santa Justa, the main rail station (see By Train, below). A taxi from the airport into town costs about €25.

By Car
Seville is 217 km (135 miles) northwest of Málaga, 252 km from Granada, 97 km from Jerez de la Frontera, 129 km from Cadiz and 192 km from Algeciras, and is well connected by road.

By Train
Seville has 23 trains a day connecting it with Córdoba. Trains arrive at Santa Justa Station, Avda de Kansas City (902 400 202). The high-speed AVE train takes just 45 minutes, and the considerably less expensive ordinary trains make the trip in 1 hour 20 minutes. There are six trains daily to Málaga (3 hours) and four to Granada (4 hours). The station is a fairly long and rather dull 20- to 30-minute walk from the historic city center, so it’s best to take a bus or taxi.

By Bus
Buses mostly run from Prado de San Sebastián, Calle José María Osborne 11 (954 417 111), routes to Córdoba take (2.5 hours), Málaga (3.5 hours) and Granada (4 hr.). Some long-distance services depart from the bus station at Plaza de Armas 954 907 737.

Getting Around

The historic centre of Seville is surprisingly compact and lends itself very well to walking. Additionally many of the tiny streets are so narrow no other form of transport will work anyway.

Once you’re settled in your hotel you’ll spend most of the time on foot. However you could try out the excellent Sevici citybike scheme if you fancy going for a cycle. Cycle lanes have been laid down on main routes and there are plenty of racks to lock your bike.

If you can, avoid driving a car in the old town, the one way system is very confusing, parking is expensive and the streets are narrow. Taxis are plentiful and generally drivers use the meter and don’t overcharge. Local firms include Tele Taxi 954 622 222, Radio Taxi Giralda 954 675 555 and Radio Taxi 954 580 000/954 571 111. Taxi ranks are well located at Plaza Nueva outside the Hotel Inglaterra, Calle Alemanes right next to Starbucks, and Puerta de Jerez outside Hotel Alfonso XIII.

Urban bus services operated by the town transport comanyTussam are frequent but most don’t enter the old city’s narrow streets. However the C5 line, often serviced by an electric microbus, does go into the old city and it’s quite handy for getting around, stopping at many of the tourist sights. C1, C2, C3, C4 also do useful clockwise and anti-clockwise circuits of the perimeter. Single journey tickets can be bought on board. Ten-journey multi-tickets (bónobus) can be bought from newsstands (kioscos). One- and three-day passes are available from the Tussam office at the bus station and Tussam kiosks at Plaza Ponce de Leon and Puerta de Jerez.

The tram is just a single line but it’s quite handy for resting tired feet along the main Avenida de la Constitucion that it runs along. The metro isn’t really that useful for sightseeing – it was built to bring locals in from the suburbs.

Perhaps the most pleasant and romantic way of getting around other than walking is to take a horse and carriage. It’s not particularly cheap, but definitely something to try at least once. Or else how about taking a cruise along the river or hopping aboard a sightseeing bus?

Background

Positioned with North Africa to the South and central Europe to the North, Seville has been conquered and re-conquered, named and re-named. These different cultural influences can be seen today in the city’s wealth of architecture which is one of the delights for a visitor.

Roman Period (2nd century BC-4th century AD)
Apart from re-used Roman pillars in all sorts of unexpected places there are few reminders of Roman Hispalis today. The site of Italica north of Seville is the place to see Roman ruins. At the peak of its glory, Italica was the third largest city in the world, surpassed only by Rome and Alexandria itself.

Moorish Period (8th-15th century)
The North African Muslims, known as Moors, subdued Andalusia in the early 8th century and their influence remains today, not just in architecture but in the language and customs too. Instead of depicting the human figure, Moorish art and architecture focused on intricate patterns and on Arabic calligraphy– and was typified by flowing details and abstract, geometric designs. These new conquerors built a wall around Isbiliya (as they called Seville) to protect it. Sections can still be seen – most notably in the Macarena area. Over 100 towers were built along the walls and the most notable, the 12-sided Torre del Orro, remains today along with several smaller towers. The city’s best example of Moorish architecture is, however, Seville’s signature building the Giralda. Now the tower of the cathedral, it was originally the minaret of the Great Mosque completed in 1198.

Mudejar or Post-Moorish Period (mid-14th to late 15th century)
After the Muslims were ousted by the Christian King Fernando III in 1248, many churches in Seville were built on the sites of former mosques. Often original Moorish architectural motifs were incorporated into them like ornamental brickwork in relief alternating with stone, archways, and even roof tiles. Some Muslims were allowed to stay on after the reconquest and were employed to build churches and palaces. This produced a new hybrid style of architecture known as Mudejar. The word literally means ‘those who were allowed to stay.’ One of the best examples of the Mudejar style is the Alcazar – a palace built for a Christian king that looks for all the world like a Muslim fortress. The Salon de Embajadores here is a stunning achievement, surmounted by a wood dome and flanked with double windows. Dozens of churches in Seville also still retain Mudejar architectural motifs, particularly in the form of geometrical ceiling carvings, towers that were originally minarets, horseshoe-shaped arches and geometrical patterned wall tiles. Iglesia de San Marcos in Macarena is just one example.

Gothic (13th-16th century)
When the Christian re-conquerors turned their attention to the city’s largest building, the Great Mosque, they wanted to replace it with a building of equally vast proportions. The result is the Gothic cathedral, characterized by massive columns that hold up mammoth arches. Its spectacular vaulting is in the Flamboyant Gothic style and rises 56 meters (184 ft.). Most of this structure was constructed between 1401 and 1507 with exotic buttresses supporting the huge pointed arches. By the end of the 15th century, Spain had developed its unique style of Gothic architecture, calling it Isabelline in honor of the Catholic queen Isabella I (1451-1504). This style’s exuberant decoration covered entire facades of buildings, its lavish ornamentation coming in the form of lace-like carvings and heraldic motifs.

The Renaissance (16th century)
Renaissance-style architecture in Spain had local elements worked into it. Early Renaissance continued the flamboyance of the Isabelline style and was termed Plateresque (platero means silversmith) because its fine detailing evoked the ornate work of a silversmith. The best example of the Plateresque style in Andalusia is Seville’s Ayuntamiento (town hall). Completed in 1534, its east side is a feast of detailed carving featuring famous people in the city’s history. At the end of the 16th century Plateresque increasingly gave way to the Herreran style, named after Juan de Herrera (1530–1597), the greatest figure of Spanish classicism. Herrera’s buildings were less flamboyant, grand but austere as well as geometric. The best example of his work can be seen at the Archivo de Indias, completed in 1598.

Baroque (17th-18th century)
Baroque suggests flamboyance but early Spanish baroque was more austere. In the 17th century a family of architects led by Jose de Churriguera (1665-1725) pioneered a type of architecture noted for its dense concentrations of ornaments covering entire facades of buildings – which became known as Churrigueresque. The Palacio de San Telmo’s ornately carved portal on Avda de Roma completed in 1734 is a good example. Later in this period, the baroque style blossomed in Spain, particularly in Andalusia. Seville has more baroque churches per square kilometer than any city in the world. Outstanding examples are the Capillita de San Jose and the extraordinarily ornate Iglesia de San Luis.

Modern (20th century)
Modern architectural achievement in Seville owes much to the two great exhibitions the city hosted in the 20th century. The Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929 allowed the talents of local architect Anibal Gonzalez to shine. He drew on earlier Mudejar and Renaissance styles to create romantic, unique buildings–in particular the grandiose Spanish pavilion known as the Plaza de Espana. A new term was coined for this style: Regionalist. More recently Expo 92 provided another spurt of innovation. Its best legacy was five new bridges spanning the Guadalquivir, the most exceptional being Santiago Calatrava’s harp-shaped Puente del Alamillo, and the Puente de la Barqueta, a suspension bridge held by a single curved overhead beam. And bringing us right up to the present – making it clear that the city continues to this day to use vast architectural projects to make a mark, there’s the remarkable Metropol Parasol building. This huge, criss-cross wooden structure with walkways on top was designed by the German architect Jurgen Mayer and completed in 2011. Locals call it Las Setas – the mushrooms.

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