Seville was founded as a roman city based on its position for trade. People came up the river, found the site that was later to be named Seville and deemed it to be a good spot. It had access to water, which allowed trade via the Mediterranean, and it was close to the mountains which allowed for trade of ore and metals. Seville was founded halfway between the two.
As I have mentioned previously, a great way to get to know a city is with a free walking tour. So meeting at the fountain near the Giralda Tower, I did a free walking tour with Manuel from Pancho Tours. For about 2.5hours we wandered around the main monuments of the city, learning about their construction and their history. I am notoriously bad for remembering these types of facts, but I managed to write down a few snippets and hopefully I recorded them accurately.
The Cathedral of Seville is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. When it was first constructed it was a muslim mosque, but over time and changes in rule, the majority of it was destroyed and rebuilt, eventually it became a Christian Cathedral. The construction took more than 150 years.
A fun fact about the cathedral is that it holds the tomb of Christopher Columbus, however, it is actually only his foot.
Excuse me if the facts are perhaps a little sketchy BUT if I understood correctly, Columbus died in Valladolid near Madrid. His will stated that he wanted to be buried on the island of Madeira, one of the islands he discovered. So the body was moved to Seville. It was here that the family disputed the will and buried him in Seville. The king wanting to comply with the will, then moved the body to Madeira, but due to something, it was moved to Cuba, then for safety reasons it was moved back to Seville. So I guess somewhere along the line some body parts went missing!!
The Giralda Tower is the only part of the Cathedral that remains from its muslim heritage. It was built as a minaret and the construction is still visibly muslim aside from the addition of a bell tower and weather vane at the top. The view from the top of the tower is fabulous! (There are 35 ramps and 17 steps to climb to the top)
To gain access to the Cathedral without having to wait hours on end I recommend three options. The first option is to go to Iglesia del Salvador, here you can visit the church and also buy a ticket for the Cathedral which allows you to skip the queue. The second option is to go at lunchtime, around 2pm, when the queue is a lot shorter. The third option is to buy a ticket online, but this is rather challenging to find, and requires you to enter the cathedral from an alternate entrance. I think the cost is 9€.
Near to the cathedral is the Reales Alcazar, the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe. When the Spanish flag is flying it means the King is in residence, if the flag of Seville is flying he is not. The name Alcazar has a muslim base and roughly translates to ‘the house’. The origins of the building are roman, but due to adaptations over time it certainly has a strong muslim look to it.
Another fun fact, in Season 5 of the popular series Game of Thrones, the Alcazar and it’s gardens were used as the city of Dorne.
The cost of entry to the Alcazar was about 9€ and an audio guide is an additional 5€.
Plaza de Espana is a gorgeous building/plaza that was made for the world expo many years ago and is certainly worth a visit.
The Metropol Parasol is a crazy weird structure, it is bizarre but cool. Entry costs 3€ and you can catch the lift up and wander the platforms to get a good view of the city (not as good as from the Giralda tower, but still good and it’s quirky).
Walking along the river is gorgeous and getting lost in the narrow streets around the cathedral area is fabulous, and there are so many fantastic little tapas bars to pop in to for a bite to eat.
Taberna Coloniales – near the cathedral, famous for tapas, 3 storeys high.
Taberna Volapie – near the parasol, good is quite good, but a bit pricey. There’s a free flamenco show every night at 9pm, go early to get a seat.
El Riconcillo – near Santa Catalina church, oldest tapas restaurant in Seville.
Los Caracoles – the Lonely Planet Guide suggested that eating near Alfalfa Plaza was a good idea, and we stumbled across Los Caracoles and loved it!
Once we more rented an airbnb, this time a private room in someones home. It was situated near the Santa Catalina church and was a fairly short walk to everything. It was fabulous!