Whether you’re studying abroad or just visiting on vacation, Seville is a must-see city for anyone who enjoys history, art, and culture. However, with so many sites to see, it’s hard to know where to spend your time, especially when it’s limited. While there are plenty more sites worthy of adoration in the capital of Andalusia, these are the eight sites you must see before you leave town.
1. THE SEVILLE CATHEDRAL
This unmistakable landmark stands tall and wide in the heart of the city, and has become a trademark of Seville with its iconic Giralda bell tower. The Seville Cathedral is the largest gothic cathedral on earth, and the third largest church altogether, with St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City topping the list, by no surprise.
Inside you’ll find gorgeous stained glass windows, an astonishing central altarpiece, and even the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Then a quick climb up 31 ramps will take you to the top of the bell tower for 360 degree view of the city around you, and the maze of flying buttresses directly below. Be mindful of what time you head up though, because the bells will not hesitate to chime with you standing directly below!
2. THE ROYAL PALACE (REAL ALCAZAR)
Directly next to the cathedral, the royal palace almost seems small in comparison. However, upon entry and exploration, one will discover the massive labyrinth of rooms and gardens, all exquisitely decorated in the mudejar style — a combination of Moorish and Christian designs.
The Real Alcazar should be on every tourists list, especially if you can’t make it to the Alhambra in Granada. With stunning tiles, beautifully carved wooden ceilings, and well preserved fountains, wandering through this palace transports you back in time to a life of luxury and power.
3. PLAZA DE ESPANA
When you search Google Images for Seville, Spain, it is likely that many of the top results will feature the insanely picturesque Plaza de Espana. This sprawling building was constructed when Seville hosted the world fair in 1929. It features stunning tiled bridges over a U-shaped river, tall towers on both ends, and uniquely tiled inlets all along the arms, representing the different provinces of Spain.
The building now houses government facilities, but is a picture perfect highlight for many tourists thanks to its bright colors and intricate designs.
4. MARIA LUISA PARK
Directly in front of the Plaza de Espana, you’ll find the sprawling gardens of Maria Luisa Park, that were also designed for the world fair. Explore this massive park that stretches all the way out to the Guadalquivir River to find beautiful fountains, monuments, flowers, birds, orange trees, and more. Just be careful to watch where you step, the gardens are a popular destination for horse and carriage rides!
5. FLAMENCO MUSEUM
See the world’s first flamenco museum, just a few blocks away from the cathedral. This authentic Spanish space is constantly filled with the sounds of stomping shoes and clicking castanets. This is one of the many places in the city to catch a great flamenco show and hear the classic flamenco style singing and Spanish guitar.
(Plus, if you’re a fan of the Amazing Race, you might recognize this museum from season 24 in which teams learned a flamenco dance as an option for their detour.)
6. LAS SETAS
This structure is technically called Metropol Parasol, but ask any locals for “Las Setas,” and they’ll point you in this direction. This funky looking wooden structure was completed in 2011 in the old quarter of the city.
At the bottom of the structure, you’ll find a market, and some well preserved ruins from the Roman era. A cheap elevator ride will take you to the top of the structure for a nice view of the city, among the roller coaster-esque walkways.
7. THE INQUISITION MUSEUM
Crossing the river will take you into Triana, arguably Seville’s most historic neighborhood, and one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city. Inside the Mercado de Triana, you’ll find the free inquisition museum among the ruins of what once was the headquarters of the bloody Spanish inquisition. For those interested in history, this museum is a quick, but informative journey into a part of Spanish history that most tourists know little about.
When you’re done, you’ll exit through the Triana market, which is also worth a walk through to sample Spanish cheeses, and Iberian ham.
8. THE RIVER
This might seem obvious, but to truly round out your trip to Seville, a historically influential port city in Spain, spend some time along the banks of the Guadalquivir. You’ll see bikes riding by, people enjoying picnics down by the water, and plenty of rowing.
Since this river is controlled by locks on both ends, this section of the Guadalquivir is a popular destination for competitive rowing, and was even used when Spain hosted the summer olympics. The life you’ll find along the river is a great glimpse into the personality of this vibrant city.