Seville has a good chance of being the most beautiful city in Spain. The capital of the Andalusia region and historic centre of trade and commerce, Seville far surpasses Madrid in its beauty. And unlike Barcelona, which aesthetically feels more broadly European and less Spanish, Seville epitomises traditional Spain. Despite the fact, that there is a Starbucks on virtually every street corner.
The old, central area of the city is a maze of small streets feeding into large plazas. Note to future visitors, do not attempt to drive in this area unless you absolutely have to – it is an absolute nightmare. There are not many cars in this part of the city which makes walking wonderful, but bring a map. In a way the streets reminded me a bit of London. There did not seem to be any pattern or reasoning behind the city’s layout. Streets shoot out in every direction and curve around until they are following another direction entirely.
To balance its many small streets, Seville is full of large plazas – Plaza Nueva, Plaza del Salvador, Plaza de San Francisco, Plaza del Triunfo, and the list goes on – almost all of which have outdoor restaurants perfect for the many sunny days Seville is blessed with. My personal favourite however is by no means your standard plaza. The Plaza de España was built for an exposition in the early twentieth century and then was thankfully kept up after the exposition finished. There really isn’t another plaza like it in the world that I know of. Set in a building in the shape of a semicircle, the plaza is decorated with painted tiles and has two towers at either end. In the centre is a beautiful fountain but the real masterpiece is the miniature canal following the semi-circular line of the building with several beautiful bridges arched over it. You can even rent little rowboats on the canal. It is one of the most romantic spots in Seville. Don’t believe me? Try counting the number of couples sat in rowboats trying to manoeuvre their way around the overcrowded canal.
Connected to the plaza is the beautiful Maria Luisa Park. The park has plenty of hidden gems including gazebos and tiled fountains. It is perfect for a relaxing walk or even a carriage ride in one of the yellow and black horse-drawn carriages found all over the city. The pathways are lined with orange tees, which are, once again, everywhere. Seville is famous for these bitter oranges and they are often used to make marmalade. The park has a smaller plaza, the Plaza America, flanked by two museums also housed in buildings originally built for the 1929 exposition. Take my word for it, the buildings themselves are far more beautiful and interesting than anything contained in the actual museums.
The main attractions of Seville however, are the Cathedral and the Alcázar. Both of which are spectacular and well deserving of a visit, but by no means my favourite parts of the city. The cathedral is beautiful as well as mammoth and the Giralda bell tower offers an Instagram worthy view of the city. The Alcázar is a unique experience but was a bit of a let down. This was mainly because the audio tour was terrible but it might also have had something to with the fact that I went on a day that it was unusually cold. The building itself was impressive and the mosaic ceilings are pretty phenomenal, but I left feeling more confused about the history and purpose of the Alcázar than when I had arrived.
Seville is quintessentially Spanish. There is of course the Plaza de Toros where they continue to hold bullfights and the whole city is lively. Being the birthplace of Flamenco, dancing is everywhere. I even came across a large group of people dancing in one of the plazas in the afternoon. They were not professionals, just a group enjoying the sun and music. Painted tiles decorate buildings everywhere and even the traditional shops are filled with beautiful fans and colourful flamenco dresses and fabrics. Everything is vibrant. The city is a work of art of its own creation.
Top: Plaza de España
Middle: Maria Luisa Park
Photography by Savannah and Alexandra Hayes