72hrs in Seville
There are few cities in the world that evoke the same level of sentiment as Seville. It's the centre of all things traditionally Spanish: from the flamenco music and bullfighting, to Ernest Hemingway's favourite drink, sangria. While the Sevillians (Sevillanos in Spanish) are known for their wit and sparkle, the city itself is fascinating for its exuberance. Being the 5th oldest city (VIII century B.C. by the Tartessos) and 4th largest city in Spain, there is a vast amount of discoveries still being made; from the hoard of bronze Roman coins stored in 19 amphora earthenware jars found recently during construction works to the Roman and Moorish remains discovered on site underground below the Metropol Parasol (wooden parasols).
First timers must visit the Cathedral of Seville, as it is in the heart of many key sites. The cathedral is the third largest in the world, after St. Peter in the Vatican and St. Paul in London. It is one of the last Gothic cathedrals in Spain, showing evidence of the Renaissance style. On its Roman base a Visi gothic temple was erected. From this, only the fountain of the Patio de los Naranjos remains, which in turn is the legacy, together with the Giralda, the mosque built during Arab domination. If you are hungry in the area, we recommend going for a bite at the Taberna Álvaro Peregil - La Goleta (owned by son of the late flamenco singer Pepe Peregil), almost opposite from the cathedral. Here you can try local tapas like the mojama (dry tuna), chicharrones (pork belly) and montaditos (small sandwiches). The bar was a pioneer in popularising orange wines, still popular along with the beer and sherry. We have found out about this place thanks to our personal guide from Devour Seville Food Tours. Also not to be missed is an experience at ENA by Carles Abellán, with a cuisine inspired by Barcelona and Seville blended together. It is located at luxury Hotel Alfonso XIII, which deserves to be visited for a treat. At night, do not miss the vibrant rooftop of EME Catedral Hotel. Make sure you dress to impress and get ready to mingle. From the heights, you can enjoy rooftop fetish of the city.
Sevillians like to wind up the night at the famous Garlochi Bar, a back-street gem lavishly decorated in the style of the Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions, with religious statues, paintings of Virgins, flowers, incense, candles and sometimes a bartender in a priest’s cassock. This religious theme bar is famous for the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ), which is deep red and served in a chalice.
If you crave for sweets, we recommend heading to Alameda de Hércules nº17 and ordering a slice of chocolate cake at Gigante Bar. This place is so high in sugar, you may have to lay off of your sugar intake for the remainder of your visit. Only a couple of minutes walk from Gigante Bar, there is a much healthier option such as orange juice with avocado sandwiches, in the Corner House at Alameda de Hércules nº31. Also the restaurant bit is called El Disparate, you may see the hotel's sign first, so don't be confused. It is through the owner that we found out about a top restaurant called El Gallinero de Sandra. It is on Pasaje Esperanza Elena Caro nº2. Expect to find meat, fish and wine specialties.
If you are into hip and new, there are three places most highly recommendable in Seville: No-Lugar The Art Company on C/ Trajano nº16, Café Red House and our recently discovered Gallo Rojo Factoría de Creación. You can find an assortment of juices, cakes, sandwiches and other things in the company of a cool crowd and music. For a more traditional intake of sugary treats, do go to the famous Confiteria La Campana on C/ Sierpes nº1-3. If you find La Campana to be overcrowded, you can visit La Creme de la Creme on C/ Regina nº1 or Manu Jara on C/ Pureza nº5.
There is an abundance of sites and neighbourhoods to venture off to. If you want to get to know a more local and less crowded aspect of Sevillian life, we recommend crossing the Triana bridge (also known as Isabel II bridge) to explore Triana's main market (Mercado de Triana) on Plaza del Altozano. Once the home of dockworkers and fishermen, you can get a sense of town feel here. The vendors openly speak to their clients as if they are family, with a loud wave of laughter and chatter across the more than 100 market stalls. If an outdoor picnic suits you, there is time (opens every day from 8am to 2pm, except Sundays) to stack up on goods and enjoy it somewhere around the Triana bridge.
Flamenco is said to have been founded in Triana. This neighbourhood saw the birth and growth of this art to the point of becoming the epic centre for flamenco during the 18th and 19th centuries. It is no coincidence, therefore, that Triana has its own style of singing and flamenco dance known as the soleá de Triana. Places such as El Mantoncillo (C / Alfarería nº104) or Casa Anselma (C / Pagés del Corro nº49) are references for their live flamenco shows in which the public themselves start singing and dancing. They are taverns with solera in which the true flamenco has stemmed from. Another great place is the Lola de los Reyes Tavern (C / Blas Infante, nº6) also known in Triana for its live flamenco shows, which you can enjoy without agglomerations. If you are in this emblematic neighbourhood, you can not stop going to Betis Street, which is full of bars and terraces with a lot of atmosphere, where you will also find live flamenco venues like Lo Nuestro (C / Betis nº31). From the Betis street you can enjoy panoramic views of the Guadalquivir river. If you want something warm for breakfast, go to the popular Bar Santa Ana in Triana district.
Santa Cruz is perhaps the most famous and important of all the neighbourhoods. It is situated next to the San Bartolomé district and is where the old medieval Jewish quarter lies. We recommend you book your ticket online to visit the Reales Alcázares, it will cost 1€ more but you get to skip the sometimes 2 to 3 hours wait in line. The original fortification was built around the year 884 as a defence of the Norman invasion of the city. In 913 the Umayyad Caliph Abderramán III ordered a new centre of government built in Seville on the site of an old Visigothic settlement that had previously been Roman. This multicultural curiosity about its foundation seems a foretaste of the many historical ups and downs that would shape its current appearance. After the disintegration of the Caliphate of Cordoba, the Royal Alcazar would pass into the hands of the Abbesses (Taifa of Seville), the Almoravid emirs and, in the last Islamic stage, the Almohads. The successive reforms of that time had already made the Reales Alcázares a large palace complex surrounded by walls in the middle of the XIII century. There is a palace that surrounds two courtyards of varying size which is contemporaneous with the famous Alhambra of Granada. The construction is impressive, with a Gothic palace, a Mudejar palace and other forms of architecture that were built from scarce remains. Very importantly as well, after the discovery of America, there is a House of Contracting which is symbolic of the adventurer's discoveries. It is exceptionally emotional on a summer night to attend a concert in the beautiful gardens of the Alcázar, in which the open space allows for hundreds of visitors to listen to the music.
For a drink and tapas afterwards, do make sure to visit El Rinconcillo. Open since 1670, they still mark your bill with chalk on the table. The De Rueda family has preserved the original essence of El Rinconcillo over the generations, and this place has turned into the most popular corner of Seville without changing its original appearance.
The ancient part of the Jewish quarter is a network of sinuous, less touristy, but perhaps more authentic streets, than the previous neighbourhood, separated from it, by the street Santa Maria la Blanca and San José, emphasising inside the square and convent of the Mercedarias and the Parroquía de San Bartolomé with its slender bell tower. In the neighbourhood there are several palaces, in the Calle Verde street lies the palace house of the Padilla, which today is the symbolic and much appreciated Hotel Casas de la Judería and the palace of Miguel of Mañara, in Levies street, now home to the Culture of the Junta de Andalusia. If you happen to reach San José street, it is worth visiting the Church of San Nicolas, seat of the brotherhood of Candelaria, which processes the Holy Wednesday and in the street Santa María la Blanca, the homonym church of the XVII century, built on an old synagogue next to the Palace of Altamira, soothes of the delegation of culture of the Meeting of Andalusia. Such is the magnetism of the neighbourhood of Santa Cruz that even the American writer Washington Irving (1783-1859) stayed in the area and shortly afterwards he went to Granada to write his 'Tales of the Alhambra'.
We have stayed a number of times in Seville and can highly recommend our favourite boutique hotel Corral del Rey. It is in the appealing streets of old Barrio Alfalfa and only has 13 rooms and 6 suites. The property has a resemblance of a riad but it also has classical tones of Andaluz flair. We enjoy the spacious Junior Suite with an en suite bathroom and a walk in rain shower. If you are planning to stay for weeks at a time and prefer and apartment rental, then Espacio Eslava is for you. Rosa María Borja and Sixto Tovar are the owners of Espacio Eslava. In 1988 they set up the restaurant wanting to initiate a nice atmosphere where people could relax and eat well. Today as it stands, they have a restaurant, tapas bar and their latest project is their boutique apartment offering.
To understand the cultures and histories of Seville better, we recommend booking a tour with Genuine Andalusia. We have gotten to know the city well with personal guide Iván Ricoy. Based between the noble city of Jerez de la Frontera and buzzy Seville, he offers private tours to individuals, small groups and families visiting the southwest part of Spain. Seville is a city with an intense history. So put on your best walking shoes and discover the city on foot.