The fascinating, unmissable Alcázar dates back to 913. Site of the marriage of Carlos V and Isabel of Portugal. Pedro I 'el Cruel' (the cruel one) rebuilt the old Almohad and made it into his royal residence. Over time deterioration was considerable and it needed to be restored during the period of Isabel II. The front of the building is the most decorated artefact of the Mudejar in Spain, visible from the "Patio de la Montería" in whose construction the Alarife Moors participated with Sevillian artersians and decorators from Toledo. The inside of the building is ordered around two courtyards; the courtyard of Las Doncellas for public life and the courtyard of the Las Muñecas for private life. The Ambassador hall is beautifully decorated with plaster work and tiles. The top floor is accessed by a 16th century coffer-covered staircase decorated with paintings by Roelas and Madrazo. The furniture and tapestries decorating the different large rooms are worthy of mention.
Antigua Fabrica de Tabacos
It may be part of the Universidad de Sevilla (Seville University) now, but the massive old tobacco factory used to be the cornerstone of the city's economy. This old tobacco factory was constructed between 1750 and 1766, and 100 years later it employed 10,000 cigarreras, of which Carmen was one in the opera. (She rolled cigars on her thighs.) In the 19th century, these tobacco women made up the largest female workforce in Spain.
The neoclassical-styled building is impressive, if a little gloomy. It occupies the largest area of any building in Spain except El Escorial, the great palace-monastery near Madrid. At one stage the tobacco factory had stables for 400 mules, its own jail and even a nursery (most of the workers were women).
Archivo de Indias
Built in the 16th century with late reforms. Keeps valuable documents about the relationship of Spain with the American colonies. The Indies Archive which used to be the Mercaderes Market, was built in 1572. Designed by Juan de Herrera and built by Alonso de Vandelviva and Juan de Minjares. During the 17th century the second floor and the cross of the Oath were constructed. The Archive of the Indies has since 1785 been the main archive of Spain's American empire. Its 8km of shelves hold 80 million pages of documents dating from 1492 through to the end of the empire in the 19th century.
It's opening hours remain reduced due to restoration works, but researchers can gain better access with prior permission.
Barrio de Santa Cruz
What was once a ghetto for Spanish Jews, who were forced out of Spain in the late 15th century in the wake of the Inquisition, is today the most colorful district of Seville. Near the old walls of the Alcázar, winding medieval streets with names like Vida (Life) and Muerte (Death) open onto pocket-sized plazas.
This is the richest area of the city, in terms of the sheer number of monuments, its streets narrow and torturous to keep out the sun, with houses brilliantly whitewashed and barricaded with iron grilles behind which girls once kept chaste evening rendezvous with their novios. Almost all the houses have patios, often surprisingly large and in summer these become the principal family living room.
Basílica de la Macarena
If you're not in Seville for Semana Santa, you can get an inkling of what it's all about at this 1940s church, which is home to the most adored religious image in all of Andalucía, the 17th-century Virgen de la Esperanza (Hope) sculpture. Commonly known simply as La Macarena, she is the patron saint of bullfighters and the city's supreme representation of the grieving yet sanguine mother of Christ. The church's museum displays the holy lady's rich vestments and other lavish Semana Santa accoutrements. Next to the church are the remains of the Arab wall that once surrounded the city.
Seville's immense cathedral stands on the site of the main Almohad mosque, with the mosque's minaret, La Giralda, still towering beside it. Within the cathedral lies a bounty of treasured art and artisanry as rich as in any of Spain's great churches.
The main building is one of the world's largest cathedrals, at 126m long and 83m wide. Inside the cathedral's southern door, the Puerta de los Principes, stands the tomb of Seville's greatest sailor, the Italian-born Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón).
Then there is La Giralda. The Giralda is the most emblematic monument of Seville. This Minaret was constructed by the Moores between 1184 and 1197 and reaches a height of 76 metres. After the reconquest the christians added a bell tower to the minaret in 1568.
Seville's emblem It was given this name because in the past it was covered in golden tiles. It forms part of the city walls and lies on the banks of the river. It dates back to the year 1220. In the Christian epoch the tower served as seat of the marine's administration. Today It houses the naval Museum, that has a series of models, navigation maps, compasses and ancient documentation from the past.
Seville's true centre stretches north of the Catedral. It's a densely packed zone of narrow, crooked streets, broken up here and there by plazas around which the life of the city has revolved for eons. Highlights include
the Plaza de San Francisco & Calle Sierpes , the city's principal public square since the 16th century; the Plaza Salvador , dominated by the huge red baroque Parroquia del Salvador church; the animated though traffic-infested Plaza de la Alfalfa ; and the noble Casa de Pilatos mansion, an intriguing mix of mudéjar, Gothic and Renaissance architecture.
Plaza de toros de la real Maestranza
This may be your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the grand theatre of bullfighting at its highest level. Bullfighting is very popular in Seville and Andalusia. Inside this circular bullfighting ring is where everything takes place. If you like Bullfighting, here you can see the best "Toreros" in Spain. If you do not want to see an animal bleeding, do not come here, because this is what is all about.
Seville's bullring is one of the most handsome and important in Spain, and probably the oldest (building began in 1758). Take a tour of the ring, get a feel for the battleground and peep into its minihospital for bullfighters who got the wrong end of the bull's horn.
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