A Pedacito of Sevilla, the Capital of Andalucía
Updated: Jun 10, 2021
Seville, Spain is by far my favorite place in the world. I first traveled to Sevilla when I was 19 when I studied abroad for a semester in college. I liked it so much, that I decided to return in the spring of the following year to study for another semester.
Many years later, I went back to Sevilla to teach English for two years in the Auxiliar de Conversación Program. Most recently I returned to Sevilla in January of 2020 to launch a women’s entrepreneur community called Femprendedoras.
Learn more about Femprendedoras here: https://www.femprendedoras.es/
Sevilla, to me, is a magical place in so many ways. First, you have the beautiful Moorish architecture that dates back to the 8th and 13th centuries. The designs, colors, shapes, and patterns all throughout the city and on its buildings are breathtaking and make you want to stop at every corner.
Sevilla is home to the third-largest Cathedral in the world. Inside, there are remains from Christopher Columbus, and you can hike up the beautiful Giralda tower 35 floors to look out over the Cathedral gardens, the castle, and the city.
My favorite part of the Cathedral is the horse buggies and carriages that surround the entrances waiting for tourists to take a ride. Make sure you purchase tickets for the Cathedral ahead of time so you don’t have to wait in long lines.
Lining the streets of Sevilla is the smell of oranges and Azahar. It rarely rains there, but when it does, the thousands of orange trees give off a sweet tangy smell as the oranges fall to the ground. In the springtime, the trees blossom the little white Azahar flower, which to me smells like a sweet perfume.
Sevilla’s old town behind the Cathedral is called the Barrio of Santa Cruz. It is quite an adventure when you head back there to explore, but I definitely recommend it. Some of the streets are so small that cars can’t even fit down them and they are open to pedestrians only.
The small narrow streets are lined with restaurants, cafes and shops. Be on the lookout for the Menú del día. Many of the restaurants in that neighborhood offer Menus of the day for lunch for about 10 Euros which includes a drink, bread, a first plate, a second plate, and coffee or dessert.
The Barrio of Santa Cruz is filled with old Andalusian architecture and is a fun place to shop and get lost in. It also has one of my favorite Flamenco Bars, La Carbonería. They have Flamenco shows every night of the week there and they are free to see if you can find the place. It is definitely hidden down those small streets, but if you ask a local, I am sure they can direct you.
Just outside the Barrio of Santa Cruz is the Universidad de Sevilla. A fun fact is that until the 1950s, the University was the Royal Tobacco Factory. You would never know it though. You can visit and walk through the big gate and the various courtyards with fountains that are in the center of the university by the stairwells. There is also a café inside and upstairs you will find hallways filled with classroom after classroom.
As you walk out the other side of the University, you will approach the Parque de Maria Luisa. This is the largest and most famous park in Sevilla. It is filled with paths to walk through and around huge oak trees, statues, tall palm trees, horses and buggies, vendors, people exercising, and museums.
There are also a couple of bars, and in the summer there are a couple of outdoor discotecas or clubs at the park. Make sure to visit la Plaza de Americas. There are hundreds of pigeons there and it is fun to feed them.
At the end of Maria Luisa Park, you will encounter my favorite part of Sevilla, the Plaza de España. You may recognize this huge structure from one of the Star Wars movies. Every time that I visit the Plaza de España I am in awe of its grandness and beauty. Beware of pickpocketers since it is a prime location for tourists.
I know many people who have been robbed there in the middle of the day, including myself, but it does not take away from its beauty and charm. You certainly cannot leave Sevilla without visiting the Plaza de España and oftentimes there are flamenco groups singing and dancing under one of the bridges there in order to give their business publicity.
Heading over the bridge that crosses the Guadalquivir River which runs through the Andalusia region, you will run into Calle Betis. Calle Betis is quiet and colorful by day, and full of restaurants, bars, music, and dancing at night. It is the street that runs along the Gualquivier River across from the center of the city.
This street is mainly a place for tourists to go out in the evening, and there are always promoters lining the streets. You can find bars with music from the ’80s, Spanish music, flamenco, and the list goes on. It is certainly a lively place to check out at least once.
At the end of Calle Betis, you hit the Barrio of Triana. Triana is where Flamenco was founded by the Spanish gypsies and in the old days was known as the fisherman’s neighborhood. There are still many authentic buildings standing, as well as various artisans that make the traditional Moorish ceramics. There are places where you can have ceramics made or even go and paint them yourself.
As you cross back over the Gualquivier River on the famous Isabel II bridge and into the downtown area, you will pass the Sevilla Bull Ring. Bull Fights are still active in Sevilla and take place in the springtime. Passing the bull ring, you will hit Calle Sierpes and the center for shopping in Sevilla.
The shopping streets are pedestrian-only and lined with stores like Zara (which is much cheaper than in the US), Mango, Banks, makeup and jewelry stores, and of course, El Corte Ingles. El Corte Ingles is the most famous Spanish store and is like our Macy’s.
Heading up the street from the shopping area is a large wooden structure that was built in 2010. It is known as Las Setas, which means mushrooms. The structure was built in the shape of mushrooms over some ruins that were found in the ground. You can pay 3 Euros to take the elevator up to the top of the wooden structure, which looks over the city.
There is also a bar up there where you can have something refreshing to drink. Since the structure was built in the center of the city, you get a good few of all of the tall buildings in Sevilla. Below the Setas are various restaurants and hotels and more pedestrian streets that lead back to the shopping center.
There is so much to see and do in Sevilla and it is full of Spanish culture. The tapas are delicious and cheap and the people have a beautiful lifestyle of being outside and living life to the fullest. Tapas from a local bar in Sevilla run between 2 to 3 Euros apiece. A good way to know if the restaurant is good is there are a lot of locals sitting there. You will know the food is tasty and reasonably priced.
Sevilla is also close to other amazing cities worth visiting in Andalucía like Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada, Ronda, and Almería. If you have any questions or need any recommendations, please feel free to reach out.
Wishing you safe and beautiful travels. Xoxo Christine
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