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Seville City Guide
- Places of Interest
- Getting to
- Getting around the city
If you want to get to the folkloric heart of the country - the scent of orange trees, the click-clack of flamenco shoes, brightly dressed women in polka-dots and the heat of the Andalusian sun, Seville is the city for you. Spain's fourth largest city and the capital of Andalusia, Seville nevertheless maintains the warmth and intimacy of a small town. It would be an understatement to say that Seville has a rich history; the city has the glorious past of the Roman Empire, the sumptuous Muslim culture and the reconquest of Spain by Fernando and Isabel. The re-taking of Seville sparked the construction of one of the largest, most awe-inspiring cathedrals in the whole world. There is a vibrant fusion of history and modernity with the largest old quarter in Europe but it is also a link to the future, a modern city and open to all progress as demonstrated when it hosted the last Expo of the 20th century in 1992. It is here where live flamenco, the city's legendary Semana Santa and the world renowned Feria de Abril make their home. But perhaps the most endearing part of this city is her people, unique even in Spain for their intense love of life and their Andalusian alegría
Places of Interest
The Cathedral & the Giralda
When Seville fell to the Christians in 1248, the city's main mosque continued to serve as a church. However in 1401 the authorities decided to rebuild it and the resulting cathedral is one of the largest in the world. A combination of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, this beautiful building is home to stunning stained glass windows, sculptures and paintings as well as Christopher Columbus' tomb...or is it? Nobody is sure if the impressive tomb is actually that of the famous discoverer. Incorporated into the cathedral is the Giralda, one of only two surviving elements of the original mosque. Over 90 meters high, the Giralda was the mosque's minaret, and its perfect proportions and the way in which its appearance alters with the changing daylight make it one of Spain's most awe-inspiring Islamic buildings.
Seville's Alcazar is situated south of the cathedral, across the Plaza del Triunfo, and is a sight not to be missed. Starting life in 913 as a fort, the Alcazar has served as a palace for the various rulers of Seville over the centuries, each monarch adding his own touch to this intriguing and mysterious complex. The gardens of the Alcazar were added later on. Highlights include the Patio del León and the stunning Palacio de don Pedro.
Torre del Oro
On the banks of the river, is the 13th century Islamic watchtower, once thought to form part of the old city walls. Legend has it that it had a dome covered in golden tiles from which it took its name, the "Tower of Gold", and today it houses a small maritime museum.
For culture of a different kind, Seville's large amusement park is located in the middle of the Río Guadalquivir. Modeled on a 16th century Spanish colonial adventure and using parts of the site of the Expo '92 (the international exhibition hosted by Seville in 1992), Isla Mágica is a great day out for anyone with a love of white-knuckle rides or water rollercoasters with 360 degree turns!
Puente del Alamillo
Designed by Santiago Calatrava for the Expo '92, the Puente del Alamillo links to La Cartuja, a deserted island in the middle of the Río Guadalquivir on which Seville decided to host the exhibition and which is now home to a futuristic technology park. The bridge, an engineering feat consisting of a single pylon and thirteen lengths of cables with a 200 meter span, is said to represent the soaring aspirations of Seville as a modern city and is a striking contrast to the architectural designs of the old city center.
Barrio Santa Cruz
It doesn't get more romantic than the Barrio Santa Cruz: white-washed facades, iron balconies draped with flowers, the most narrow, winding streets imaginable and abundant charming patios characterize Seville's historic Jewish quarter. You can soak up rays on any number of typical terrace cafes.
Casa de Pilatos
Tucked into the winding streets of Santa Cruz, the stunning Casa de Pilatos - widely regarded as the "prototype" of Andalucían palaces - is often overlooked by visitors who flock instead to the Alcazar for their palace fix. Dating back to the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the palace boasts a mix of Italian Renaissance and Spanish Mudéjar influences, incredible tile work, majestic courtyards tranquil gardens and much more.
Getting to Seville
Seville's airport, Aeropuerto San Pablo, is located 10km northeast of the city and offers direct flights to and from a large number of Spanish and EU destinations. The airport bus is run by the TUSSAM bus company and runs between the airport and the city center every 30 minutes between 6:15 and 23:00, (times may vary on Sundays). The journey takes between 20 and 30 minutes and a single ticket costs 2.30€. Alternatively, a taxi from the airport into the center of Seville will take about 15 minutes and can cost between 15 and 22€, depending on the time of day. The taxi rank is located outside the Arrivals area of the terminal building. There are flights from Seville to other international destinations such as the USA but they are not direct. The nearest large international airport is located in Spain's capital, Madrid, which is about 530 km north from Seville. The Spanish airline Iberia has frequent domestic flights from Madrid to Seville
You can take the train high speed (AVE) or the normal speed train (ALTARIA) from Madrid to Seville's main train station, the Estación San Justa. Around 20 AVE trains run each day, the journey takes 2 hours and 30 minutes and a single ticket costs between 70 and 80€. The ALTARIA service runs twice a day, it takes 3 hours 20 minutes and will cost you approximately 60€ for a single journey.
The bus company SECORBUS runs eleven direct buses from Madrid to Seville's Estación de Autobuses Plaza de Armas per day. The journey takes 6 hours and a single ticket costs around 20€.
Getting around the city
Seville is an ideal pedestrian city as the majority of its tourist sites are located in the city center within walking distance of each other and walking around is easy since the city is flat. This also makes renting a bike a good option which will cost you as little as 18€ a day or there are discounts available if you reserve online. However in the summer midday heat walking is best avoided but Seville's bus system is another reliable and economical way to get around. The network covers most of the city center and the outskirts, you can buy a single ticket on the bus for 0.90€. However, frequent users will be better off purchasing a bonabús ticket, a pass valid for 10 journeys, which costs 4.35€ and can be bought from newsstands or estancos. All bus lines run daily from 6.30am until 11.15pm with additional night buses. There is a new and efficient tram service also serving the center and line 1 of the new metro system opened in April this year. However the other lines are still under construction and will be finished at the end of this year. Taxis in Seville are useful, especially at night when buses are not as regular. An average fare within the city will cost between 4 and 8€ and taxi ranks can be found all over the city center.
Cost of living
Seville is Spain's fourth largest city, the capital of Andalusia and tourism is a major factor in its economy - all of these elements are reflected in the cost of living. Whilst it is not the cheapest city to live in Spain, prices are by no means extortionate. Meals in restaurants can vary from as little as 10€ for a set 3 course lunch, or menú del día, to much higher prices in the top restaurants. Partaking in the Spanish tradition of the tapeo, or tapas bar crawl, can also be a reasonable way to eat and a delicious way of tasting typical Andalusian cuisine. A single tapa is occasionally free with your drink or costs you between 1.50 and 3€. Equally, the cost of drinks can vary enormously. A coffee taken outside on a cafe terrace may cost you up to 3.50€, whereas a coffee in a bar or café costs as little as 1€. Sodas tend to cost more - about 1.50€. Food and drink is also available cheaply in the supermarkets, of which there are several dotted around the city center. A baguette will set you back approximately 0.70€ whilst a 1.5 liter packet of milk generally costs around 0.90€. The Sevillanos love to party and have a country-wide reputation for their vibrant nightlife. Admission charges vary, although many charge around 10€ to get in - often with a free drink included. Drinks can vary in price from 2€ for a small beer to 9€ for a large mixer or cocktail. A cinema ticket costs 5€ - although discounts are available on selected days. Entrance to museums varies between 1.80€ and 4€ - although many museums have discounts for students and free entry on certain days.
In the Barrio de Santa Cruz, the streets are filled with tiny artisan shops selling local crafts, ceramics and tiles whilst Seville's main shopping streets, Calle Sierpes, Cuna, Velázquez and Tetuán, are home to a wide range of both high street stores and designer brands. Seville is also well served by larger department stores, the Spanish "El Corte Inglés" having three branches across the city center where you can buy anything from clothes to cosmetics. The city also has three main shopping malls, including the Centro Comercial Nervión Plaza, all of which have cinemas and a wide range of food outlets and high street brands. Adding color to Seville's streets are also the large number of outdoor markets which take place every week. Perfect for finding a souvenir or present, markets such as the art and painting stalls on the Plaza del Museo or the antiques stalls on the Calle Feria serve both Sevillanos and tourists alike.
Football: Seville is home to two football teams, Seville FC and Real Betis Balompie, both of which play in Spain's top league. Seville FC's home ground is named after one of its former presidents, Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán and has a spectator capacity of 45.000. With two major clubs playing here, it's likely that you'll have the opportunity to see some electrifying matches and Spain's other big clubs, such as Real Madrid and Barcelona, are frequent visitors.
Bullfighting: Whilst bullfighting may not be to everyone's tastes, it continues to be a popular part of local culture in Spain and the "Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza" is one of the oldest bullrings in the country. A tourist attraction in itself, it was renovated at the start of the 20th century and is considered one of the world's most challenging bullfighting stages. The fighting season is from Easter to July and even if you choose not to attend a bullfight, the Plaza de Toros is well worth a visit, if only to admire the architecture and visit the museum.
Located in the south of Spain, Seville has a warm Mediterranean climate with the average temperature during the summer months around 27° C and the average annual sunshine around 3,000 hours. However it also has a reputation as being "the frying pan of Spain" as temperatures throughout the year are generally always above the national average for Spain and can go over 45°C in July and August. During this period, there is close to 12 hours of sun a day, and because of its inland location, the heat can feel quite intense as it is not usually accompanied by any cool coastal winds. However the months either side of this are wonderfully warm - the Andalusian sun begins to warm things up as early as March and temperatures remain mild until late October. The best months to visit are April and May when the climate is warm but not too hot. Winters are mild, with temperatures rarely falling below 0°C and an average temperature of 12°C. There is very little rain in winter and it is almost non-existent in the summer months!