Standing gallantly along the Guadalquivir River in Seville, Southern Spain is a simple-looking twelve sided tower called Torre del Oro. This incredibly deceptive tower once stood watch over the city, ready to defend against enemy invasion by the river. Built in the 13th century by the Almohad rulers, Torre del Oro was recognised as a historic symbol of the city of Seville in 1931. The tower is presently a maritime museum. The panoramic terrace offers great views over the city.
1 | The history of Torre del Oro | Tower of Gold in Seville
Located on the left bank of the River Guadalquivir, the noble Torre del Oro or the Tower of Gold was constructed between 1220 and 1221 by then rulers of Seville, the Almohad Caliphate. Its purpose was a military watchtower to protect the city of Seville from the Castilian fleet during the Reconquista. As a watchtower, it also served as one of the two anchor points for a large chain that would have blocked any on-coming enemy ships in the River.
While protecting the land from the river entrance, the tower also stood defence by protecting the city area of industrial activities.
The Tower of Gold was built using mortar, lime and hay. The combination of these materials projected a subtle golden shine against the river waters, hence it inherited the name, in Arabic, Borg al-Dsayeb or ‘Tower of Gold’ in English.
Interestingly, not all of what we see today of the 36 metres tower was built in the 13th century. The Torre del Oro has three levels.
The first twelve-sided level was built in 1220 – 1221. Added to this dodecagonal structure was a further 8 metres of the same design, built by the King Pedro 1, (‘Peter the Cruel’) in the 14th century. The third and the uppermost circular level were added in 1760. This incredible tower has been honoured with the title of a historic-artistic monument since 1931.
During its very many years, the Gold tower had been a chapel, a noble prison, a gunpowder warehouse and a strategic post of Naval Command.
The Torre del Oro today is home to a small naval museum occupying two floors along with a panoramic terrace.
2 | The Maritime Museum at The Torre del Oro in Seville today
Opened in 1944, the Tower of Gold is home to the Maritime Museum of the Torre del Oro in Seville. There are a series of exhibitions in this monument, beginning with its history, and view of the tower before the walled enclosure of 1760. A model of ‘Real Fernando‘, the first steamboat built in Spain.
You will also find ancient marine charts and documents along with compasses, nautical mechanisms, and fossilised marine debris.
A visit to the Tower of Gold also affords access to the panoramic terrace, with views of Seville city and the Guadalquivir River.
3 | Practical tips on how to visit the Maritime Museum of Seville
Accessing and visiting the Tower of Gold is easy and it does not really take too long to enjoy what the Naval Museum of Seville has to offer. We recommend that you combine this quick visit with one of the many popular boat tours of the Guadalquivir River. Enjoy a different view of Seville from the famous waters of Guadalquivir River. Torre del Oro is ideally located and is the departure point for many of the river cruises in Seville.
The Bohemian Seville | Top places to Stay Eat Explore
Written by: Georgina | We may earn a commission from affiliate linksat no cost to you
There is an area towards the northern side of the city that embodies the true taste of Seville’s local life. An area that is filled with so much energy and as buzzing as Soho in London! An unconventional hotbed of shops, cultures, music, clubs and life, lots of nightlife! The Bohemian Seville is a neighbourhood that is continuously renewed through imagination, art and style, attracting students, tourists as well as Sevillanos.
Welcome to this mini guide on Bohemian Seville, encompassing four neighbourhoods as oppossed to one .
Traditionally, La Alameda is a neighbourhood that is associated with bohemian culture, a neighbourhood of different personalities, multi-cultural offerings and the area where Andalusian rock music was born. Home to the oldest public park in Europe, the Alameda de Hercules encompasses a large pedestrian area and is the most popular leisure area in the city. Although the Alameda neighbourhood is the heart of bohemian Seville, the areas of Las Setas, Feria and Macarena are included as wider Bohemian Seville in this article. All these four areas are located within 10 minutes of each other and share the Bohemian quirky vibe. It takes about 30 minutes to walk from the historic centre or an easy 10-minute taxi ride.
A visit to the off-track Bohemian Seville offer an alternative to Seville’s usual tourist sights, with a mix of avant-garde eateries, vintage clothing and a paradise of local independent shops.
What this mini-guide on Bohemian Seville covers
In this mini-guide on Bohemian Seville, you will find an overview on each of the barrios and what you could do on your visit along with suggestions on where to stay and places to try some delicious food. In Bohemian Seville, it is all about the “relax, fun and the easy-going where anything goes vibes” rather than ticking-off a list of attractions, although there are some unmissable historic monuments which you could see along the way, especially in Macarena.
Please also read Barrio Santa Cruz, the BEST guide to Where to Stay, Things to do and Where to Eat alongside this article for a greater context on the city of Seville.
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A MINI GUIDE TO BOHEMIAN SEVILLE — LAS SETAS — CALLE FERIA — LA ALAMEDA and MACARENA AREAS
1 |LAS SETAS AREA
The area around Las Setasde Sevilla (The Mushrooms of Seville) or the Metropol Parasol was once a run-down area and now, is home to quirky boutiques, organic food shops, and independent shops.
1.1 | What to do at Las Setas Area
Las Setas de Sevilla is a large wooden structure at La Encarnación and is one of Seville’s iconic landmark that was built in 2011. The Metropol Parasol houses the local market, Mercado de laEncarnación, several tapas bars, and cafes. Alongside these are a rooftop walk and an archaeological museum.
From Las Setas de Sevilla, walk up the quirky neighbourhood along Calle Regina towards Feria. Calle Regina is a pedestrianised street offering bookshop, Spanish-sweet shop, and a cafe for a quick break.
2 | FERIA, SEVILLE
Feria, as the name itself denotes is a ‘party’ neighbourhood and makes as one of Bohemian Seville. This cool barrio encompasses several streets clustered around Calle Feria with the lively part of this neighbourhood stretching along Alameda de Hercules, one of the busiest spots for nightlife in Seville.
2.1 | What to do at Feria, Seville
Calle Feria is famous for its noisy, hectic flea market on Thursdays for all things trash or treasure. Jueves Market is the oldest and the most colourful flea market in Seville and you can buy pretty much anything here – from books, flamenco dresses to bird cages! One of Seville’s best vintage clothing boutique, Ropero and Jueves is located at Feria, 37.
Located towards the northern end of Calle Feria is Mercado de Feria, a popular food hall with 100+ vendors dishing up paella and croquettes.
The heartbeat of Bohemian Seville, the Alameda neighbourhood was once a down-and-out barrio. Now, this is where life is lived intensely and where people get the impression that Seville embraces diversity. Go here for a drink and to hang-out till the early hours.
3.1 | What to do at Alameda Neighbourhood
La Alameda is one of Seville’s trendiest and hippiest of neighbourhoods. Home of Andalusian rock music, the Alameda now boasts all kinds of music. You can enjoy jazz, pop-rock, concerts and music festivals. There are funky art galleries, chic bars, restaurants and vintage boutiques. La Alameda represents a marriage of historical places, spaces, style, art, imagination and cultural expressions. The aura of complete la libertad!
Head to La Alameda de Hercules, a historical public square encompassing a large (480 metres by 80 metres) tree-lined pedestrian area surrounded by tapas bars, terraces cafes and restaurants. It suits all personalities and frequented by artists, students, and tourists.
As revellers call it a ‘night’ on the early hours of Sunday morning, the historic square becomes alive with hectic vendors setting up stalls for one of Andalusian capital’s most interesting art and craft markets. You can visit the Alameda Market scene on Sundays from 7:30 a.m.
Macarena is popular for its creative vibe and home to a range of shops selling vintage clothes and books. This neighbourhood takes its name from the Basilica de la Macarena, home to the revered Virgin Macarena.
4.1 | What to do at Macarena Bohemian Seville
The Basilica de la Macarena sits next to the city’s ancient gates and parts of an ancient wall, possibly the largest remaining sections of Moorish city wall. This remarkable monument stretches from Puerta de la Macarena on the west to Puerta de Cordoba on the east, two of the oldest gates to the Andalusian capital city.
Macarena nowadays is an economically important part of Seville and is home to the Andalusian parliament. The Andalusian Parliament building was once a hospital, Hospital of the Five Holy Wounds (Hospital de las Cinco Ilagas).
Macarena is also host to Seville’s best loved Christian processions. The procession of Virgin of Macarena, Semana Santa (Holy Week) takes place every Easter.
This neighbourhood is filled with budget accommodations and apartments while also popular for its vibrant nightlife scene that keeps going till the early hours.
The Royal Alcazar, Seville Cathedral & Giralda Tower skip-the-line guided tour from £45.20 per person > Check availabilityand Book
WHERE TO STAY AT THE BOHEMIAN LAS SETAS — CALLE FERIA — LA ALAMEDA and MACARENA AREAS
If the noise is not a bother and you wish to stay in these barrios that make up Bohemian Seville, look up the following hotels as they come highly rated for this neighbourhood. Also, this is a popular area for the night owls, so ensure you grab a good deal by booking early.
1 | Mid-range hotels atBohemian Las Setas – Calle Feria – La Alameda and Macarena Area
1.1 | Exe Sevilla Macarena
Hotel Sevilla Macarena is located facing the city wall and the Basilica de la Macarena. The hotel offers rooftop pool, panoramic views and is set around a typical courtyard usually found in Seville. International breakfast buffet is offered as well.
1.2 | One Shot Palacio Conde de Torrejon
One Shot Palacio Conde de Torrejon is a 4-star hotel located within minutes of La Alameda de Hercules. Guests enjoy the seasonal outdoor swimming pool, a terrace, bar and a buffet breakfast. Offers family rooms.
2 | Budget accommodations at Bohemian Las Setas – Calle Feria – La Alameda and Macarena Area
2.1 | Alcoba del Rey de Sevilla
Alcoba del Rey de Sevilla is located close to the Basilica de la Macarena. This highly rated boutique hotel feature a rooftop terrace, a hot tub and is set around a typical Andalusian patio. Located at just 3-minutes from the La Alameda area. Alcoba del Rey de Sevilla is particularly noted by guests for its unique rooms, incredible breakfast and friendly hospitality.
2.2 | Sacristia de Santa Ana
Sacristia de Santa Ana is located in La Alameda de Hercules. A 18th century manor house feature parquet floors and classical-style decor. Conveniently located near a bus-stop.
2.3 | Patio de la Cartuja
Patio de la Cartuja features apartments in split floors. Conveniently located within minutes to La Alameda de Hercules. Continental breakfast is available each morning.
WHERE TO EAT AT THE BOHEMIAN LAS SETAS — CALLE FERIA — LA ALAMEDA and MACARENA AREAS
This is a neighbourhood where there are many tapas bar and cafes that serve some of the very best in authentic Andalusian dishes. The area is abuzz with vendors serving from paella and croquettes to seafood and empanadas along with snug and hidden bars.
Mix with the locals and soak up the sun at vibrant La Alameda while enjoying cañas till the morning hours. Your choices of local cuisine is endless with the offerings of over a hundred food stalls at Feria Market and at the great choices at the fresh food market at La Encarnación Metropol Parasol.
Within Bohemian Seville neighbourhoods, you may want to try the following which are highly rated:
Eslava – has been around for over thirty years and is a favourite for both locals and tourists. It has the buzz of a local bar and offers traditional tapas such as costillos (pork ribs) alongside some newer creatives.
Arte y Sabor – offers a fusion of cuisine. Morrocon dishes such as tagine alongside Spanish dishes. Vegetarian friendly
These top rated and the very best guided tapas tours in Seville offer one of the best ways for you to make the best use of your time in enchanting Seville.
Why would a visitor join tapas tours in Seville?
A guided tour offer you the comfort of knowing that you are in the best places at the best times and places you ought to skip for a non pleasant encounter.
Knowledgeable guide make a tour enjoyable and usually are experts on the local areas that they work in. They have wide knowledge about their neighbourhood and more than happy to share stories on history, people and culture.
Seville is a unique city with over 2000 years of history. Rich in architecture, passionate about their culture and proud of their heritage. This welcoming southern city of Spain has a delightful cuisine that ought to be savoured, with tapas being the most popular. Therefore, joining guided tapas tours in Seville is one activity that a visitor should look forward to experiencing.
4 of the very best tapas tours in Seville for you to select from:
1 | Tapas Crawl in Seville
The tapas crawl guided tour in Seville allows you to discover the hidden side of the city through its tapas. This gastronomical experience takes you on a journey of discovery as you visit hidden bodegas and eat authentic Sevillian tapas.
The tapas crawl in Seville tour includes the following:
A minimum of 10 to 13 tapas servings;
4 to 5 drinks
A knowledgeable guide
The duration of the tour is about 3 hours. Prices start from £54.27 per person (Jan. 2022)
2 | Guided tour of tapas, taverns and history of Seville
This small group tapas tours in Seville may be more suitable if you have a busy itinerary or on a short visit to Seville.
The tour is available in the evening which means you can do sightseeing during the day. An all encompassing tour offers an introduction Seville’s history which contributes to understanding Seville’s people and culture. It begins with visiting one of the oldest bodega in Seville serving one of the best Iberian ham and covers the very best of tapas eating.
The tour includes the following:
Visiting a 100 year old tapas bar;
Discover Spanish wines and sherries – 4 different specials;
A minimum of eight delicious tapas;
Lots on history and local tips.
The tour is scheduled for 3.5 hours. Prices start from £74.31 per person (Jan. 2022)
3 | Flamenco and Tapas Night – Typically a half day event
Get into the rhythm, wine and dance of the Sevillian culture for a memorable, timeless experience of the historic city. In this walking tapas tours in Seville, you will experience the passion of flamenco, delicious food and wine. The walking tour covers some of the best hidden streets of Seville and you will learn about its exquisite architecture along with the city’s 2000 years of history – Romans, Arabs, Christians and the Gypsies.
Flamenco and Tapas Night experience includes:
A local walking tour;
Three tapas and three drinks
Lots of insider tips.
Duration of the Flamenco and Tapas Night experience is 4 hours and prices start from £105.62 per person.
Plan ahead, check availability and have a smashing time in Seville!
4 | Tapas and Flamenco Experience in Triana, Seville
Set off on a walking tour from Calle Betis, in the passionate barrio of Triana, located across the River Guadalquivir. On this tour you shall visit bars and charming old taverns that embodies the culture and spirit of Trianeros in this part of Seville. Learn about the historic Triana, the birthplace of flamenco and a place once home to pottery and the tile industries.
Tapas and Flamenco experience in Triana includes:
Professional guide who knows the ins and outs of this eloquent barrio;
4 tapas and 3 drinks;
Tickets for the flamenco show.
This is a small group tour and the duration is 3.5 hours.
The remarkable Antiquarium Room in Old Seville is an important archaeological site. It represents Seville’s ancient Roman roots going back to the 1st century and the later influences of the Almohads on the Iberian peninsula of Southern Spain.
This post gives an overview of the historic context of the Antiquarium Room in Old Seville along with what visitors’ can expect and the highlights to look out for.
The discovery of the archaeological remains in Old Seville are quite recent. They were discovered when a wider project to regenerate the area of the Plaza de laEncarnación was undertaken in 2005, with the construction of Metropol Parasol. The Antiquarium Room sits in the basement of the iconic Metropol Parasol.
1 | A HISTORIC PERSPECTIVE INTO SEVILLE’S OLD TOWN & METROPOL PARASOL
The area in general was a square at which the town came together since Roman times. In ancient Roman cities, the axis was known as ‘cardo’, the north-south streets and ‘Decumanus”, the east-west street which served as the primary street in the town. This area developed over the centuries into an important market and commercial centre.
In the 1830s, a fresh food market was established, the first of its kind in Seville. The square grew over the years into a thriving area, but its prominence declined in the 1970s. With a view to breathe life back into the area, the local council decided on an urban redevelopment project. The project was assigned to Jürgen Mayer-Hermann, a German architect.
Mayer-Hermann designed a five-storey building incorporating a colossal undulated honeycombed parasol made of a wood called Kerto. The parasol were designed and constructed in mushroom-shaped timber lattice. This is the largest timber construction in the world ever built. This construction was aptly named Metropol Parasol but more affectionately known locally as Las Setas de Sevilla or just, Las Setas.
2 | THE COOL ANTIQUARIUM ROOM IN OLD SEVILLE AT THE METROPOL PARASOL
The Antiquarium Room located at the basement of the Metropol Parasol is outstanding. The cool museum was designed by the Felipe Palomino Architects. The primary purpose was to create a sensational space where visitors can enjoy the remarkable archaeological discoveries made during the excavations for the construction of the iconic Metropol Parasol in Seville’s old town.
2.1 | What to experience at the Antiquarium Room in Old Seville
The Antiquarium Room in Old Seville at the Metropol Parasol is located at 5.45 metres below ground level. The archaeological museum has no natural light but visitors will not feel that they are in a ‘dungeon’. The museum is astutely designed to encompass a giant open-space floor area of about 5,000 square metres with no visible boundaries. However, as you walk along the clearly marked dedicated walkways, and as you approach each excavation site, the boundaries become visible.
Each excavation site is wrapped by a set of membrane, made of glass. These glass panels permit transparency, and visibility, creating a sense of space with no enclosures. The design also allows a visitor to gauge the whole spectrum of what was unearthed, thus an idea of a market place, shops and houses that once existed in this ancient square.
The Antiquarium Room has two artificial lighting installed. The lights create a slightly dim, but a cool sensation for visitors while also allowing for sufficient illumination of the excavation site.
2.2 | Highlights of the Antiquarium Room in Old Seville
It is hard to pinpoint the highlights of the Antiquarium Room as the entire museum is a highlight! The Room showcases an exclusive contemporary design with no walls while creating a unique sensation for visitors to experience. Not for a moment will you feel that you are in a basement!
If you plan on visiting this remarkable Antiquarium in Old Seville, here are some exhibits to look out for:
2.2.1 | An early 6th century house at the Antiquarium Room in Metropol Parasol
One of the excavations that stood out was the foundation of a house from the 6th century, called the Sigma House.
The Sigma House was a great hall where banquets were held by the ‘dominus’ (the leader or head). This was also a centre where the social hierarchy was boasted, and well received. The excavated site clearly shows the stucture of a ‘stibadium’, a semicircular shape where guests were reclined in the apse.
2.2.2 | Exquisite mosaic work exhibited at the Antiquarium Room in old Seville
Following are some of the skilled mosaic work discovered during the excavations, suspected to originate from the 12th century during the Almohad reign of Seville.
2.2.3 | Pottery of a bygone era
On exhibit are a small collection of pottery of a bygone era.
There are just a few of beautifully sculpted jars with handles, and painted decorations which were once used to store water.
Oil lamps must have been popular back then as there were several on display here. Some were shrewdly designed with a sign of a pigeon. Most of the oil lamps discovered were discarded by its owners because of defects.
On a final note
The Antiquarium Room in Old Seville has a different persona to a traditional museum. It is cool, contemporary and provides a small insight into what life was like all those many years ago in Old Seville. Worth visiting if you are at the Plaza de laEncarnación, Seville.
Written by: Georgina | We may earn a commission through affiliate links
An undulating honeycombed canopy, Metropol Parasol Seville is a gigantic cosy oasis of sunshade, offering stunning panoramic views over the city and a glimpse into the city’s ancient history through its archaeological discoveries.
Metropole Parasol Seville is an expansive wooden structure and an iconic landmark in the old town of Seville, on the northern side of the Andalusian capital city. The structure is more popularly known locally as Las Setas de Sevilla ( “the Mushrooms of Seville” or simply as Las Setas ( “The Mushrooms”) for its unusual shaped structure. Las Setas is located at Plaza de la Encarnación and is one of the city’s most visited attraction.
This post entails an overview to the Metropol Parasol, what to experience on the five levels of this immense structure along with essential information to support your visit for an immersive experience.
PLANNING A TRIP TO SEVILLE?
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The largest bonded wooden construction in the world was built in 2011. The structure is made-up of six mushroom-shaped lattice parasols. Measuring 150 x 70 and approximately 28.5 metres in height, this exemplary “mushroom” is the brainchild of a German architect, Jürgen Mayer.
Mayer won the international competition to regenerate the Plaza de la Encarnación by putting forward a design inspired by the centennial Ficus of the Plaza de San Pedro and the vaults of Seville Cathedral. His design incorporated the space needed for Seville’s historic Market which had been trading here since the 1830s. Along with the Market, was the much needed shade in the sultry summers, while also respecting the ancient heritage of the city. Above all, his idea incorporated an area where the life, splendour and joy Sevillanos once enjoyed would return.
WHAT TO EXPERIENCE AT THE METROPOL PARASOL/LAS SETAS SEVILLE
Metropol Parasol is an alluring colossal sight with a ripple of sunshade alongside gigantic support trunks. The structure offer access to five levels:
1 | The Basement at Plaza de la Encarnación
The basement of the Metropol Parasol, at 5 metres below street level is accessed via escalators. It houses the ticket office, lifts to the upper floors and the Antiquarium Room.
Lifts from the basement run up to the to the meandering walkway above, El Mirador for stunning views over the city. Tickets can be purchased for the Mirador and for the Antiquarium at the ticket office here.
1.1 | The Antiquarium Room at Metropol Parasol
When works for the Metropol Parasol were undertaken, excavations led to the archaeological discovery of Roman remains from the 1st century and further discovery of an Islamic house built during the Almohad era, between 12th and 13th centuries.
The Antiquarium Room is well-designed. With clearly defined walkways and each excavated area is separated with a glass membrane, giving a sense of space and light to reflect. Among many of the artefacts discovered on display are mosaics, foundation of a house and oil lamps. There are information on display here that cover the middle and modern ages.
2 | The Ground Floor at Plaza de la Encarnación
On the ground floor of Las Setas, is the renovated modern Mercado de la Encarnación and catering spaces. The historic market that began in the 1830s was the first fresh food market in Seville. The Encarnación Market now still retains its reputation as an important source of fresh food frequented by the locals and tourists. The Mercado has about 40 stalls of fish and seafood, fruits and vegetables, meat, grocery and cheeses along with pickles and bars.
3 | The Lower Level at Plaza de la Encarnación
The lower level encompasses the area below the parasol, a shady elevated space known as Plaza Mayor. This space is designed to host all kinds of entertainment and music events. A popular space for the local teens to hangout as well.
4 | Central Parasol at Plaza de la Encarnación
At the height of 22 metres, in the central parasol of the Las Setas de Sevilla is a tapas restaurant
5 | El Mirador Metropol Parasol Seville
The lifts from the basement run up to the celebrated winding walkway (Mirador) that offer spectacular views over Seville. The views are spellbinding in the evening!
The Mirador consists of 250 metres of footbridges, offering various nostalgic views over the colourful city from several view-points. Visitors can enjoy an immersive experience at daytime or at night Both occasions are worthwhile experiences.
The Metropol Parasol is an impressive, mind-blowing gigantic wooden structure that attests to Seville’s cultural and historic importance. Despite its vast size, it creates a huge never-ending oasis of a playground offering sunshade from Seville’s scorching summer sun, while the coziness of gentle breeze and the rolling hues of the evening sunlight makes an unforgettable experience. A visit is highly encouraged.
ESSENTIAL INFORMATION ON METROPOL PARASOL/LAS SETAS SEVILLE
Barrio Santa Cruz in Seville | Best Guide to Where to Stay Eat and Things to do
Stunning Seville, the rhythm of Andalusia celebrate a myriad of local customs, traditions, boundless energy and the marriage of spices in their salivating dishes. There is no better place to experience the Sevillanos passion than in the heartbeat of Seville, Barrio Santa Cruz.
What to expect from this guide on Barrio Santa Cruz
Having wandered and wondered around the city for three days, exploring the thrills of the many labyrinth of alleys in the Old Jewish Quarter, in the backdrop of the flamenco dancing and the strumming of the guitar, amidst the chatter, laughter and the friendly neighbourhood vibe, I share the highly rated places to stay at Barrio Santa Cruz in Seville including the one I stayed in.
Also included in this best guide are 14 highlights of the very best things to do in this barrio Santa Cruz so you do not miss anything on the history, vibrancy and culture of this colourful city.
As the Santa Cruz neighbourhood is highly touristy, this guide offers suggestions on where to eat along with tips for enhanced experiences so you do not fall into the tourist traps.
Whether your visit is for one day, three days, a week or even longer, this best guide will help you choose where to stay at Barrio Santa Cruz in Seville, select places and things to do along with where to eat that best suits you like a breeze.
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Barrio Santa Cruz in Seville – Seville City Centre / Old Town / Old Jewish Quarter
Welcome to my guide on Barrio Santa Cruz in Seville, the best guide to where to stay, eat and the very best things to do.
Barrio Santa Cruz was the Parish of the Holy Cross and is the oldest part of the city of Seville. Located within the perimeter of the Roman city walls, the first settlement dates back to the 1st century , with a large Jewish community settling here after the Reconquista in late 1248. Thereafter, followed a period of dark history encapsulating deceit, destruction and the loss of many Jewish lives.
Today, Seville City Centre or Seville’s Old Town, also known as Barrio Santa Cruz was the old Jewish Quarter of Seville. This area is the heartbeat of Seville, ideally located to public transportation (not that you will need it) and is home to the most popular tourist attractions. Seville City Centre is the area around Seville’s Gothic wonder, the breathtaking spectacle of Mudejar palace, Plaza Nueva and El Arenal.
Santa Cruz is one of the most picturesqueneighbourhoods, in Seville. Encompassing white-washed houses, a labyrinth of narrow alleys of cobblestone, and charming Andalusian balconies. This is an area where you can wander for hours trying to decide which bar or restaurants to go to as each has its own appeal and warmth.
Staying anywhere in the Santa Cruz neighbourhood means you are only minutes away from the city’s historic attractions, the famous Bull Ring in Seville and dangerously close to Calle Sierpes, the heart of small business and a place where you can get anything you want. If you are looking to stay in Seville at the heart of the city, barrio Santa Cruz is the place to be.
While the Santa Cruz neighbourhood is splendid for a stay, the barrio is also one of Seville’s busiest and touristy neighbourhoods. Hence, the streets can be noisy at night if you are visiting Seville during the high season such as the summer months.
I | WHERE TO STAY IN BARRIO SANTA CRUZ
Barrio Santa Cruz boasts a splendid collection of hotels and boutique accommodations, ranging from high-end to budget finds.
i | Luxury Hotels in Barrio Santa Cruz
1 | The historic and much desired Hotel Alfonso XIII
The historic Hotel Alfonso XIII was designed by the famous Spanish architect, José Espiau y Muñoz and built between 1916 and 1928.
2 | For luxury and a modern feel, stay at EME Catedral Mercer Hotel, Seville
The EME Catedral Mercer Hotel in Seville is housed in a 16th century building, merging contemporary design with historical values. Located only 50 yards of Seville Cathedral. Guests’ favourite is the hotel’s panoramic terrace, offering beautiful views over Seville Cathedral and Giralda.
3 | Hotel Colón Gran Meliá
Hotel Colón Gran Meliá is categorised as a Travel Sustainable Property and is a design luxury hotel with stylish rooms. It offers a gourmet restaurant and a terrace along with a rooftop pool. The restaurant serves traditional dishes with a modern twist. Ten minutes walk to the Royal Alcazar and Seville Cathedral.
Other luxury hotels to stay in Sevilleat Barrio Santa Cruz
Located just steps away from the towering Seville Cathedral and Giralda Tower, Hotel Casa 1800 is a converted 19th century mansion which features a traditional courtyard. The accommodation offers rooftop terrace and buffet breakfast.
2 | Petit Palace Marques Santa Ana
Georgina: “We stayed at Petit Palace Marques Santa Ana in Seville. Ideally located to all attractions that were on our list, and a few blocks away from the tram station. It was quiet.”
Petit Palace Marques Santa Ana is a Travel Sustainable Property with stylish modern furnishings housed in a 19th century building. This modern boutique hotel features rooftop terrace with views over the city. Continental breakfast is served every day. Located just 2-3 minutes of Seville Cathedral and the Royal Alcazar. The Bull Ring and Setas de Sevilla were all within minutes.
3 | Hotel Las Casas de la Judería
Hotel Las Casas de la Judería is set within twenty-seven traditional Sevillan houses connected by passages and courtyards while featuring traditional Andalusian patios. The property has retained much of its original features and classic decor. Seville Cathedral is located 7-minutes away.
Other mid-range accommodations in Barrio Santa Cruz
iii | Budget accommodation at the edge of Barrio Santa Cruz
1 | Basic Hotel Puerta de Sevilla
Basic Hotel Puerta de Sevilla is decorated in traditional style and feature air-conditioned rooms, en-suite bathrooms and hairdryers. Ideally located within 10-minutes walking distance of Seville Cathedral
2 | Hotel Murillo
This no-frills budget hotel is housed in an historic building within minutes of the Alcazar and Seville Cathedral. Hotel Murillo feature original ornate wooden ceiling, antique objects and suits of armour along with a library. There is a rooftop terrace, seasonal bar and guests enjoy their daily buffet breakfast served in the dining room.
II | WHAT TO DO IN BARRIO SANTA CRUZ
Primary attractions and places to visit in Barrio Santa Cruz are:
3 | Iglesia Colegial del Salvador — Church of the Divine Saviour at Plaza del Salvador is the second most important church in Seville following Seville Cathedral. Built on the site of a former mosque, the Salvador Church is filled with remarkable altarpieces in solid gold. Definitely worth a visit.
Tip: Join a guided tour of Seville Cathedral and /or the Royal Alcazar.
4 | Casa de Pilatos — besides the Alcázar, there is more insanely beautiful architecture in this well-preserved 16th century palace.
5 | Archivo de Indias — the General Archive of the Indies along with the Alcázar and Seville Cathedral are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1987.
6 | Plaza Nueva —this is the central square in Seville and has a statue of King Ferdinand III of Castile. Everyone goes here! 🙂
7 | Jardines de Murillo — a serene park with a monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus.
8 | Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes — this building was a hospital for the priests in the 17th century. The most attractive part is the church with exquisite frescoes.
9 | Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija — Palace of Lebrija is another architecturally fascinating palace. Home to a beautiful collection of colourful mosaics ranging from ancient Greece to Roman times. An unmissable experience.
10 | Plaza del Cabildo — a lovely quiet semi-circular square to just enjoy… except on a Sunday when it is not so quiet. Stamp Collectors market takes place from very early in the morning till about lunchtime.
11 | Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza
Plaza de Toros de Sevilla is an emblematic monument of Seville. Built in the 18th century, the bullfighting arena is the most important in Spain and can accommodate 13,000 spectators. Bullfighting takes place throughout the year but there are some days when the arena is open to the public for a visit. There is a museum that tells the story of the arena’s evolution and the bullfighting scene.
Georgina: I do not support bullfighting and would never pay to watch a live bullfighting event. I respect those who do as each is to our own. As many of you may already know, I love history and I always visit monuments and landmarks that tells a story of a nation’s culture. I visited this monument to learn of its story and to see for myself what an incredible arena it is. It is an incredible arena indeed!
12 | Experience the spirit and passion of Flamenco
One of the best things to do in Seville is to experience the spirit and passion of flamenco. There are so many venues that offer flamenco shows only while some others offer flamenco and dinner. Most times, these venues are geared towards tourists and it might be difficult not to fall into a tourist trap. Having said that, experiencing a flamenco show is highly recommended.
When walking around Santa Cruz, you are sure to bump into an impromptu flamenco performance. These are pretty good to watch, in return for a small tip. Watch a short video below:
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13 | Walk around Barrio Santa Cruz
… explore the winding and narrow alleyways unhurriedly – the mysterious cobblestone paths are both romantic and intoxicating with its bright, bold colours along with the white-washed walls. The architecture is delightful showcasing a varied of cultures with a unifying trait – conquest, and so many conquests! You can see that the Romans were here, the Visigoths, the Moors, the Castilians and the Spanish Empire.
While exploring the labyrinth of barrio Santa Cruz, go also in search of Calle de los Besos (Street of Kisses) – the narrowest street in the city.
Georgina: We were out late on both nights and it was kinda nice to see the Cathedral glow against the night skies, with not many people around.
14 | Horse-drawn carriage ride
This appeared to be a popular activity among tourists but we did not participate in this activity. If you wish to, learn more about a horse-drawn carriage ride and what it entails here.
Santa Cruz neighbourhood is a great place to try any and all of Seville authentic food — seafood, tapas and drinks.
While Vineria San Telmo is highly recommended and rightly so for their exquisite dishes, Lobo López is a restaurant I would return to in a hearbeat for its natural and relaxed feel. Both were excellent.
Vineria San Telmo — Paseo Catalina de Ribera, 4 41004 Sevilla
Lobo López — C. Rosario, 15, 41001 Seville, Spain
For traditional tapas, try Casa Morales > Garcia Vinuesa 11, Seville. Two minutes from Seville Cathedral.
While Seville’s most popular eating spots serve tapas and cañas, you must not leave town without trying Seville’s Spanish ham! This is no ordinary lunch meat ham bought off the shelf, for sure. Once you try, you will want to try again.
The traditional ham is the celebrated Jamón Ibérico — Iberian ham, cured to perfection over years at a time. For the best in Central Seville, go to Flores Gourmet.
Flores Gourmet: Calle San Pablo 24 | Centro, 41001 Seville, Spain
IV | HOW TO MAKE THE BEST OF YOUR VISIT TO SANTA CRUZ, SEVILLE
Seville is a small city and compact. The best way to explore the city is by foot. I can assure you, public transport is not needed at all when visiting the barrio Santa Cruz and all you need is a good pair of walking shoes.
However, if you do wish to experience the public transport in Seville, the Tram (Metro Centro) is the best option. It is a 1.4 kilometre line that runs through the centre of Seville. The Centro Tram line connects Plaza Nueva to Seville Cathedral, with stops at Archivo de Indias, Puerta de Jerez, San Sebastian and San Bernardo.
While exploring the city centre independently is encouraged and easily done, your visit to Seville is significantly enhanced if you join a guided tour. A knowledgeable guide who knows exactly where to take you for the best tapas, best dining, best bodegas, best JamónIbérico and for the best stories ever told.
You may want to consider the following tours when in Seville:
An evening of Tapas in Seville is an unmissable experience for all visitors to the Andalusian capital city. A simple eating style by the Spanish has developed into a fun, popular and sophisticated cuisine.
Here is an overview of what the Andalusian eating culture is about, how it began and how you could have an immersive, fun experience of the Sevillian culture.
Tapa (singular) or Tapas (plural) is a derivative of the verb “tapar” in Spanish which means “to cover” or “top.” However, when you visit Spain, this term is used to describe a style of food or a style of dining where you are served with small portions of dishes. An appetizer of sorts. Though it is meant as an appetizer, tapas can also be a complete meal given the wide selection it offers and when eaten combined.
You are likely to find “tapas” in Central American countries and in Mexico. In Central America, these snacks are known as “bocas” and in Mexico, they are referred to as “botanas.”
Origin of Tapas
In Andalusia, tapas were traditionally served in bodegas, a tavern like business that offered meals and rooms to travellers. The innkeepers would serve a thin slice of bread or meat with the Andalusian sweet sherry. The sliced meat or bread was used to cover the glasses of sherry to prevent fruit flies flutter over the glass. The meat used was usually ham or chorizo which were salty. Over the years, business owners throughout Spain created a variety of tapas to go with their sherry as well as wine.
There are also other tales with a royal twist associated with tapas tradition in Spain.
One tale goes that King Alfonso X of Castile, after recovering from illness by eating small portions of food with wine, ordered that the taverns should serve wine along with a small portion of food. A more popular tale is one associated with King Alfonso XIII. The king is said to have stopped by a tavern in an Andalusian city, Cadiz. He ordered a cup of wine. The waiter brought the wine with a cover of thinly sliced ham. The king ate the ham, drank the wine and ordered for more ‘tapa.’
…. and “tapa” became part of Spanish dining culture.
Tapas in Seville
Tapas in Seville is best experienced with red wine, Caña (beer, a little less than half a pint) or manzanilla sherry, an Andalusian speciality. The small portions of dishes are eaten with more of a nibbling attitude, in relaxed and unhurried way along with lots of chatter and laughter – like a true Spaniard!
Very much like the passeggiata in Italy, tapas eating is an important social ritual with unwritten rules and dining etiquette. Tapas eating is more like a social meeting of friends and family. They gather, glasses clink and clank amidst laughter and eating.
Tapas dining may go into hours as you are on the move from one bar to another. Dishes can be ordered several times to suit. You try one or two dishes in your first bar, then you go to another and order a few more.
Lunchtime tapas eating typically starts at about 1:30 pm till 3:00 pm while evening tapas dining starts from 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm. However, times may vary as Seville caters for tourists and you are highly likely to find spaces at whatever time you choose to tapas in Seville.
The assortment of dishes can be anything from marinated olives, to pieces of meat, served with or without cheese. Dishes could also include roasted peppers and few nuts in a dish. For a few Euros, you get to taste some of the tastiest foods in Europe such as fresh seafood and delightful deep-fried options. Popular tapa dishes are croquettes and patata brava. The Sevillanos make great croquettes! The best ones to try are salmon croquettes and croquettes de jamon.
How to experience Tapas in Seville
Tapas bars are dotted everywhere throughout Seville but barrio Santa Cruz is highly recommended for some of the very best ones if you are staying in the historic core of Seville. If you wish to venture a little out of the historic centre, then head to Triana for an authentic experience.
The best tapas bars are usually surrounded by other tapas bars, making “tapas hopping” fun. The key to selecting a good tapas in Seville is to look for a bar that has a lot of people, even at low season. With a high turnover of people, means a high turnover of food and you get to taste fresher tapas. Prior booking at a tapas bar is not always necessary as people are always coming and going, unless you are dining at the high-end restaurants such as Baco or SEIS in Seville.
Once you’ve found your tapas bar, find yourself a cosy spot. Order a glass of wine, Caña or manzanilla sherry while you peruse the menu. You could try different drinks in each bar as you “tapas hop.”
2 | Join a Guided Tour: Fun evening of Tapas in Seville
With so many tapas bars to choose from, it might be a good idea to join a guided tour of the most emblematic of tapas bars in the Andalusian capital city of Seville. This historic city is a haven for gastronomic experience and an evening of tapas in Seville makes a memorable experience. A guided tour takes you on a journey of discovery of the city’s historical tapas bars for an original Sevillian culinary experience.
Led by an experienced Tour Guide who knows exactly where to take you for the best cheese, fish and sweet tapas. Visit bodegas and taverns to get a feel of Sevillian life. Have fun as you experience several dishes accompanied by drinks while doing so in a small group. Sample authentic Sevillian specialities away from the touristic areas. Learn about Seville’s rich history and culture through its gastronomy.
This option gives you skip-the-line access with a guided tour of the Cathedral and Giralda. Check availability >>
A perfect choice if you wish to explore more in a day. Visit Seville Cathedral along with the iconic Real Alcazar with a tour guide who will ensure you know all there is about these two monuments. Check availability >>
As a lover of anecdotes, quotes or sayings, I looked up quotes on Seville after falling in love with the city during my trip last November. There are so many reasons to fall in love with the ravishingly beautiful Andalusian capital city. That blue in the blue skies, skin warming sunshine in autumn, tapas bars, vinos, vibrancy of colours and rhythm along with a rich history that bleed through every street and building in this amazingly delightful Spanish city. Seville is a city I urge you to visit and the Andalusian sparkle is kinda something you need to get there to experience it yourself.
In the meantime, one can learn quite a lot from anecdotes, quotes and sayings voiced by famous people as well. I share the best 11 quotes on Seville which may inspire you to pack your bags to visit this Andalusian capital or use them as captions for Instagram to accompany your photos.
11 Best Quotes on Seville
Let us begin with the man himself, Christopher Columbus, the (controversial) Explorer of the New World who sailed his voyages in the name of Spain and Queen Isabella.
1 | “The air soft as that of Seville in April, and so fragrant that it was delicious to breathe it” — Christopher Columbus
I couldn’t agree more with the easy description of Sevillanos by PazVega, a Spanish actress who was born in Seville. Her father was a bullfighter.
2 | “People in Seville are very happy, the lifestyle here is very relaxed, you can walk everywhere; it’s very easy.” — Paz Vega
3 | “Seville is a tower full of fine archers…. Under the arch of the sky, across the clear plain, she shoots the constant arrow of her river” — Federico Garcia Lorca
Federico Garcia Lorca was an important Spanish poet, playwright as well as a theatre director in the 20th century.
4 | “A man of Seville is shaved by the Barber of Seville if and only if the man does not shave himself. Does the barber shave himself?” — Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell of Kingston Russell, Viscount Amberley of Amberley and Ardsalla was a British philosopher, best known for his work in mathematical logic and analytic philosophy
5 | “Bullfighters are Seville’s heroes” — Paz Vega
6 | “I visited Eduardo Miura’s ranch in Seville where he raised bulls for bullfighting, and I was so impressed that by the time I got home I had already selected my future emblem.” — Ferruccio Lamborghini
7 | “To be here, is a dream come true. A dream is something that you set for yourself, not what other people set for you. When I qualified in Seville I burst into tears. I couldn’t believe that I was going to the Olympic Games” — Natalie du Toit
8 | “A typical Seville shop reaches far along the street front, with many open doors, and a counter running the full length. Here ladies sit in pairs and groups, never singly, to cheapen fans and mantillas, while the smiling salesmen, cigarette in hand, shrug and gesticulate and give back banter for banter as gayly as if it were all a holiday frolic” — Katharine Lee Bates.
9 | “City of Gold. City of Water. City of Faiths. “ Quien no ha visto Sevilla,” runs a saying,” no ha visto maravilla “ ― Laurence Bergreen, Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe
A good read if you are into history
quotes on Seville
10 | “Seville never had a rich chess tradition. Valencia is entirely different, it is enough to say that one of the city squares is named after me.” — Anatoly Karpov
Anatoly Karpov has achieved more than 160 first-places, on of the best tournament record in chess history.
quotes on Seville
Finally, I leave you with one of the most powerful ambition of the church elders of Seville Cathedral back in the 16th century, along with words of Henry Longfellow.
11 |“Let us build such a church, that those who come after us shall take us for madmen,”
said the old canon of Seville, when the great cathedral was planned.
Perhaps through every mind passes some such thought, when it first entertains the design of a great and seemingly impossible action, the end of which it dimly foresees. This divine madness enters more or less into all our noblest undertakings.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Travel Stories on Seville
Read some of my travel stories to know more about this lovely city that will slowly grow on you:
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