Exploring Andalucía: A Weekend in Sevilla
The city of Sevilla lies in the southern most region of Spain, in Andalucia. Sevilla is a unique city – because of the long-term Moorish influence in the Andalucia region (about five centuries), visiting Sevilla is like stepping into another world: a world of mosques, horseshoe arches, ornamental wood and plaster, colourful tiles, and calligraphy. Alongside the Islamic architecture and history, Sevilla has splashes of the Renaissance, the Gothic, and a modern mix of the two, with its Neo-Mudéjar style.
In spite of its history and cultural significance, the sun-drenched city (clear blue skies year-round, and some of the hottest weather in Europe) can be explored in a handful of days. A weekend in Sevilla is enough to take in the main sights, explore its historic neighbourhoods and enjoy the culture and cuisine. Carve out a couple of days to visit this lively city – and, because of its size (4 km square), you can do most of it leisurely, by foot (my favourite kind of exploring!).
What to do and what to see in Sevilla – 10 main sites to visit:
Alcázar and the Gardens
Visiting Alcázar is a must when visiting Sevilla – the Moorish palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The palace will take some time to discover: you’ll be immersed in a world of colour, of intricate detail, of beautiful arched, oversized windows and doors opening to never-ending rooms and courtyards – and not to mention, the fabulous gardens.
Catedral de Sevilla (The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See)
The cathedral is huge – the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the world! Not only is its size impressive, the structure itself is awe-inspiring and the treasures inside are not to be missed. The cathedral sits across from Alcázar, as if competing for attention.
Photo by Ana Rey via Creative Commons
Admire the city from La Giralda
The cathedral’s Giralda (bell tower) allows for sweeping views of Sevilla. You can climb up the tower to admire the city from La Giralda. Quick history lesson: La Giralda is actually a minaret from a pre-existing Mosque but was modified (with a Renaissance top) to fit with the Roman Catholic cathedral.
Barrio Santa Cruz (Jewish Quarter)
Barrio Santa Cruz is lovely: tiny streets leading to even tinier alleys, colourful homes with flower-filled balconies, and hidden squares (Plaza de Doña Elvira) and fountains.
- For vegan and vegetarian-friendly spots in Sevilla, check out this post.
Hospital de los Venerables
Located in the Jewish Quarter, Hospital de los Venerables (the Hospital of the Venerable Priests) was home to priests in the 17th century. You’ll start your visit in the beautiful courtyard, and then explore the church, its elaborate altarpieces and finish at the small museum with paintings by Diego Velázquez.
Casa de Pilatos and Gardens
Probably my favourite gardens in all of the (many) gardens in Sevilla, the courtyard and gardens of Casa de Pilatos are peaceful and quiet, and more natural than Alcázar – almost a little wild. The courtyard and gardens are a beautiful blend of both Moorish (colourful tiles, arched entrances) and Italian Renaissance styles (the many Greek and Roman sculptures).
Iglesia del Salvador
Another former mosque, Iglesia del Salvador now works as a Roman Catholic church. For a small fee, you can visit the church during visiting hours (or for free entry with your ticket from the Catedral de Sevilla). Don’t be fooled by the church’s somewhat simple exterior – inside, you will find (14!!) intricately carved altarpieces to ponder over.
Maria Luisa Park and Plaza de España
A green haven embedded in the busy city, Maria Luisa Park is perfect for a peaceful stroll or a run. Inside the park, you’ll find Plaza de España and its impressive tiled bridges and alcoves – each alcove represents a different region of Spain, as the Plaza was built for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition World’s Fair. The beautiful tiles still come alive today!
Shopping on Calle Sierpes
Shop and people watch along Calle Sierpes, one of the main shopping streets (along with Calle Velázquez).
Discover Moorish and Roman remains at the Antiquariam
You can walk on Moorish and Roman remains from the 1st century BC to the 12th century AD at the Antiquariam. The story goes: the city was working on building a parking lot when it discovered these ancient ruins. The Antiquariam is in the basement of the Metropol Parasol (a modern structure that locals call “the mushroom”).
There is a lot more to see and do in Sevilla. While I’m sure you could spend several weeks exploring and enjoying this beautiful city, these are the top 10 sites to hit with a weekend (or just a couple of days) in Sevilla.
Above photo by Wolfgang Manousek via Creative Commons.