Seville Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Seville

Seville is the largest city and provincial capital of Andalusia. It is in the southwest of Spain, on the banks of the Guadalquivir. Ancient tradition holds that Seville was founded by Hercules. It was called Hisbaal by Phoenician colonizers for the god Baal. The Romans latinized the name, calling it Hispalis.

In the year 711 CE the city was brought under Muslim rule and renamed Ishbiliyah. It came under the control of the Christian Kingdom of Castile in 1248. Today it is called Sevilla or Seville in English. The development of Seville accelerated after the Castilian takeover. Public buildings were constructed, mostly in the Mudejar and Gothic styles.

The famous Gold Tower, a watch tower on the Guadalquivir River, was expanded to three levels. The sultan's palace was replaced by the Alcazar, the royal palace of Pedro I. To this day the Alcazar is sometimes used as a royal residence. Moorish remains today include the Patio del Yeso and the Giralda, the bell tower of Seville Cathedral.

After the voyages of Christopher Columbus in 1492 and Spain's conquest of the Americas, Seville entered its "Golden Age." Profits to the city were enormous. However, in the 17th century the Great Plague, massive flooding of the Guadalquivir and other disasters together with the growing independence of the American colonies brought economic ruin to the city.

Seville eventually recovered and by the late 1900s a construction boom greater than any before transformed the city. Things to see today would be the Royal Palace of Seville, the Spain Square, the Museum of Fine Arts and the exotic Metropol Parasol, Maria Louisa Park, and the Flamenco Dance Museum, and there is so much more. Come and see, "The Pearl of Andalusia."
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Seville Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Seville Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Seville (See other walking tours in Seville)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 Km or 3 Miles
Author: emma
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Plaza de Espana (Spain Square)
  • Universidad de Sevilla (University of Seville)
  • Torre del Oro (Gold Tower)
  • Real Alcazar de Sevilla (Royal Palace of Seville)
  • Seville Cathedral & Giralda Tower
  • Museo del Baile Flamenco (Flamenco Dance Museum)
  • Casa de Pilatos (Pilate's House)
  • Palacio de las Duenas (Palace of the Dukes)
  • Setas de Sevilla (Metropol Parasol)
  • Calle Sierpes (Sierpes Street)
1
Plaza de Espana (Spain Square)

1) Plaza de Espana (Spain Square) (must see)

Some say Seville was founded by Hercules. Hercules could not be reached for verification. Waves of Carthaginians, Romans, Goths, Vandals, and Moors have seen Seville since Hercules. None of them have seen the Spain Square.

The square is situated at the edge of Maria Louisa Park, Seville's largest green area. In 1914 Anibal Gonzales, architect, began work in preparation for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Using the styles of Art Deco and Spanish Renaissance Revival, Spanish Baroque Revival and Neo-Mudejar, Anibal created the Spain Square.

The square is embraced by a semi-circle of exotic buildings and towers bordering a moat. The moat encloses a vast open space. In the center of the space is the Vicente Traver fountain. The buildings are reached by four bridges that stretch over the moat. Take a boat ride in the moat and view the square around you. It's like floating in a dream.

The four bridges represent Castile, Leon, Aragon, and Navarre, the four ancient kingdoms of Spain. Around the edges of the square are 52 niches or alcoves. Each is a tiny pavilion of colorful azulejo tiles, depicting a province of Spain. Each alcove has shelves used as a lending library, offering books on the provinces.

The Ibero-American Exposition was meant to show a reconciliation between Spain and her former American colonies and territories. There was a great need to build a modern state and reestablish economic and cultural ties to the New World. The square holds this vision of a glorious past and a promising future, embracing it in the heart of Spain.

Why you should visit.
To experience the soul and grandeur of this city.
2
Universidad de Sevilla (University of Seville)

2) Universidad de Sevilla (University of Seville)

A short walk from the Spain Square we find an antique building. It is the former Royal Tobaco Factory. The old factory building is a grand example of renaissance style 18th century industrial architecture. Carmen, of Bizet's opera Carmen, worked here before she got her big break.

Royal Spain dominated the tobacco business in the New World and it took full advantage of the European captive market. In this building, for a while, every cigar in Europe was made. Its interiors have been preserved although adapted to University use. Its high vaulted ceilings, halls and courtyards offer a stunning visual experience.

In the 1950s the old factory was taken over by the University of Seville. It now houses the University's School of Literature and Philology and the School of Geography and History. Other campuses and buildings are in different locations around the city.

The University of Seville was created in the 15th century. It was originally called College of Santa Maria de Jesus and it became a true university in 1505 in a decree by Pope Julius II.

The university today is self governed and independent. The motto of the university is: "Equality, Liberty, Justice and Pluralism." Currently it has a student population of 65,000 and it is one of the top-ranked universities in the country.
3
Torre del Oro (Gold Tower)

3) Torre del Oro (Gold Tower)

Gold Tower is a dodecagonal military watchtower in Seville, built by the Almohad dynasty in order to control access to Seville via the Guadalquivir river. Constructed in the first third of the 13th century, the tower served as a prison during the Middle Ages. Its name comes from the golden shine it projected on the river, due to its building materials (a mixture of mortar, lime and pressed hay). The tower is divided into three levels, with the third and uppermost being circular in shape and added in 1769. The smaller and octagonal Silver Tower is nearby and is believed to be built in the same era.

At one point in the last two centuries the tower came under threat when the adjacent road needed widening but faced by strong opposition from the locals the demolition idea was dropped. In 1868 it was put up for sale as scrap but this too was vehemently rejected by the city's inhabitants. Today the tower, having been restored, is a naval museum containing engravings, letters, models, instruments and historic documents. The museum outlines the naval history of Seville and the importance of its river.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Real Alcazar de Sevilla (Royal Palace of Seville)

4) Real Alcazar de Sevilla (Royal Palace of Seville) (must see)

In the year 712, Seville was conquered by the Umayyad Caliphate. Then began 700 years of Arab rule in Andalusia. In 913 Abd al-Rahman III built a fort over a Visigothic church.

This construction was expanded in the 11th century by an addition called "Al Mubarak", The Blessed. Seville became the capital of Al-Andalus and there followed a period of demolishing and rebuilding until twelve palaces had been built one over the other. In 1366 Pedro I built Mudejar Palace. Ferdinand and Isabella made the top floor the royal residence.

Styles followed one another over the years until no hint remained of the original design. They refashioned with Islamic, Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance influences. Then came Baroque, with Islamic overtones. Did we mention tiles? Majolica and arista? Ceramic tiles, Seville had more than anyone. More cigars and more tiles.

La Puerta de Leon (Lion Gate) is the main gate to the palace. It is named for the tile inlay above the entrance depicting a lion holding a cross and a banner in Latin which could be translated as "ready for anything". With all the architectural changes to the palace since 913, the scroll is true wit.

Visit the gardens. All the old Andalusian palaces had gardens which featured fruit trees, vegetables and flowers. They not only provided food but also visual and esthetic pleasure. Water was plentiful in fountains and ponds. In the 16th century the old Muslim wall was turned into a loggia to admire the view of the palace gardens.

Must see items in the palace are the patios and rooms. Some of the names are intriguing. Courtyard of the Dolls, Bedroom of the Moorish Kings, Justice Room, Prince's Room, Courtyard of the Maidens, and there are at least thirteen gardens.

Why you should visit
To see a palace the has housed king and queens since the the early middle ages.

Opening Hours:
Monday-Sunday: 9:30 am - 7:00 pm
During the months of October and March, guided tours begin at: 7:30pm, 8pm, 8:30pm, 9pm
From 1st April to 30th September, guided tours begin at: 9pm, 9:30pm, 10pm, 10:30pm
Monday from 6 to 7pm (Apr-Sep), and from 4 to 5pm (Oct-Mar): Free admission
5
Seville Cathedral & Giralda Tower

5) Seville Cathedral & Giralda Tower (must see)

The Seville Cathedral is standing on the Great Mosque. In 1248 the city was conquered by Ferdinand III. The Cathedral replaced the Mosque in the 14th century but not the minaret. The minaret is called the Giralda Tower for the weather vane at its peak. The minaret has no stairs, only ramps so the sultan could ride his horse to the top and enjoy the view.

The cathedral is accessed through the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes. It has five naves. The main nave is 118 feet high. The floor measures 380 feet long and 249 feet wide. The transept rises to 131 feet. Seville Cathedral is also known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Sea. It is listed as one of UNESCO World Heritage sites since 1987.

It is told that when the church plan was presented to the church elders, they said "Let us build a church so beautiful and so grand that those who see it finished will think we are mad." Christopher Columbus and his son are buried here. When Hagia Sofia became a mosque the Cathedral of Seville became the tallest cathedral known.

The Giralda Tower was built using local bricks and scrap marble left from Umayyad construction. It was made to resemble the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque of Marrakesh, Morocco. The tower 342 feet high and it is still one of the most memorable symbols of old Seville.

Why you should visit
Ride the ramp up the minaret like the sultan of old and admire the city.

Tip:
Come early or go online to book the rooftop tour! You can also climb up the Giralda Tower (free on Mondays) to get an eagle's eye view of Sevilla. Don't miss the tomb of Columbus right off the altar, and consider buying the combined ticket with Divino Salvador Church, which is a marvel by itself.

Opening Hours:
Mon: 11am-3:30pm; Tue-Sat: 11am-5pm; Sun: 2:30-6pm (Sep-Jun); Mon: 10:30am-4:00pm; Tue-Sat: 10:30am-6pm; Sun: 2-7pm (Jul-Aug) This schedule can be seen modified without notice by the celebration of liturgies inside the enclosure
6
Museo del Baile Flamenco (Flamenco Dance Museum)

6) Museo del Baile Flamenco (Flamenco Dance Museum) (must see)

Cristina Hoyos founded the Flamenco Dance Museum. The museum has interactive exhibits and a nightly performance. The museum maintains a history of Southern Spain's flamenco dancing. There are posters, costumes shoes and above all atmosphere.

Each day the line up of musicians, dancers and singers is changed. To see every style of flamenco, you must come more than once, no, many times. All dance museum's dance choreographies are created by Cristina Hoyos. There are Alegrias, Seguirya, Solea, Taranto, and passionate tangos. No videotaping or recording is allowed.

The museum is located in the Santa Cruz quarter near the Alfalfa Square. It offers daily performances of the "Patio Flamenco" show. The museum also provides exhibits and workshops, including dance classes open to visitors. The exhibits are focused on flamenco paintings, drawings and photos. The museum attracts the best flamenco dance talent in Spain.

Tip:
If possible, get there early and try to get a seat near the front facing the show, as sitting at the side could slightly affect the view of the dancers' feet, which is such a big part of Flamenco dancing. Perhaps consider booking tickets for the "VIP" show with a smaller group of dancers, which is more intimate and a little more expensive but you get a glass of bubbly with that one, too.

Museum Opening Hours: daily: 10am–7pm
Show Hours: 5pm, 7pm, 8:45pm, 10:15pm
7
Casa de Pilatos (Pilate's House)

7) Casa de Pilatos (Pilate's House) (must see)

In October 1520, the nobleman Don Fadrique Enriques de Rivera returned from a journey to the Holy Land. Inspired by his experiences in Jerusalem, he initiated in Seville the Holy Way of the Cross. The Holy Way traced the path of Christ from Pilate's praetorian to the hill of Calvary. In this case Calvary was a pillar in a field outside the city walls.

The house of Don Fadrique was still under construction when he inaugurated the Via Crucis and it became known as "Pilate's House." People thought of the house as a copy of Pilate's house. Pontius Pilate is best known for being the official who presided over the trial of Jesus and later ordered his crucifixion. Rooms of the house have names associated with the Passion of Christ. There is "Hall of Praetorian", and "Chapel of Flagellations."

The house is decorated with rare azulejo tiles and surrounded with well maintained gardens. The front gate is of marble in the renaissance style. Beyond the front gate is a courtyard with a fountain and the busts of Spanish kings, 24 in all. There are also a number of busts of Roman emperors. Beyond the emperors and kings are more gardens.

The interiors of the house are decorated with azulejo tiles and ceilings of Mudejar honeycomb design. In a room of the left wing of the tower is a ceiling fresco painted by the Spanish painter Francisco Pacheco. The theme of the frescoe is the apotheosis of Hercules. Hercules is celebrated as the founder of Seville and Cadiz. The house is open year round.

Why You Should Visit:
To see Andalusian design, without the crowds at the Royal Alcázar. The tile work, ceilings, wood, plaster carvings, and colorful gardens are very much worthwhile.

Tip:
Don't miss the cute ceramics shop just outside the Casa; it's an especially good one with some traditional and some original items... better than the regular souvenir shop.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-7pm (Apr-Oct); 9am-6pm (Nov-Mar)
Free on Mondays from 3pm for EU members (remember to bring official ID)
8
Palacio de las Duenas (Palace of the Dukes)

8) Palacio de las Duenas (Palace of the Dukes) (must see)

Palace of the Dukes belongs to the House of Alba. It was built in the 15th century in the renaissance style but with Gothic and Moorish accents. The palace has a strong architectural and artistic heritage. Several famous poets and artists were born here and it has become a national monument, a "Asset of Cultural Interest."

The Duke of Alba has been open to tourists since 2016. The palace name is from the monastery of Santa Maria de las Duenas which was home to nuns and servants of Saint Ferdinand and Alfonso X The Wise. The monastery was peripheral to the palace. It was demolished in 1866.

The palace was at one time the residence of Lord Holland, a great fan of Spanish literature. He is the author of a memoir on Lope de Vega and Guillen de Castro. The palace became the property of the house of Alba with the marriage of the 5th Marchioness of Villanueva del Rio with the 4th Duke of Alba.

The palace style is a mixture of Gothic, Moorish and Renaissance. There used to be eleven patios. Only one patio remains, surrounded by a gallery. In the interior there is a staircase under a vaulted roof and a ceiling of alfarje gold. The main attractions are Italian and Spanish paintings, antiques, ceramics, sculptures, tapestries and mosaics.
9
Setas de Sevilla (Metropol Parasol)

9) Setas de Sevilla (Metropol Parasol) (must see)

Metropol Parasol is a wooden structure erected in La Plaza de Encarnacion. It has 113,000 square feet of area and 85 feet in height. It is the largest of its kind in the world. People call it "The Mushrooms" because it looks like mushrooms. It is formed by six parasols in the form of mushrooms.

The design of the mushrooms was inspired by the vaults of the Cathedral of Seville and the ficus trees in the Plaza de Cristo de Burgos. There are four levels. Level zero (underground) is home to the Antiquarium. The Antiquarium is a museum displaying Roman and Moorish remains and artifacts discovered while the Parasols were being built.

The next level is Level One. Level One is the street-level open air public plaza and market. Level One is shaded by the wooden parasols above. Levels Two and Three are panoramic terraces and a restaurant. The Parasol project was not created without controversy. There are cost problems, people disliked the appearance, and there are safety concerns.

Since the 19th century there was a market in the plaza, within a "dedicated" building. Following plans for urban renewal, the building was pulled down in part in 1948. The market remained until 1973 before the remainder of the building was removed. The land stayed fallow until 1990 when the city had finally decided on an underground parking lot.

Then the unexpected happened. The diggers discovered ruins and remains dating to the Roman and Moorish eras. All work was stopped and archeology took over. After an expenditure of more than 14 million Euros, the project went into deep freeze. At last, in 2004 the city tried to resume development and opened a competition for bids.

The winner of the competition was destined to change the profile of Seville forever. The winner was German architect Jurgen Mayer who designed six mushroom shapes as parasols to shelter the public area below. The mushrooms were constructed entirely of imported Finnish wood known for its straightness.

The honey-comb structure provides shade for the shops and market below. Admission is free for residents of the city. For others tickets to the top of the parasol cost a few euros. This includes a free drink. The best time to go is at sunset. The view from the top is magical.
10
Calle Sierpes (Sierpes Street)

10) Calle Sierpes (Sierpes Street)

"You can get anything you want..." Not in Alice's Restaurant, but in Sierpes Street, Seville. Here is a long winding street dedicated to shopping. The street is lined with shops and cafes. There is no motor traffic, everyone walks. On warm days the local authorities spread awnings above the heads of overheated shoppers.

There is a rumor that the street got its name from a giant serpent that lived under the road. Some say the name is derived from the "serpentine" nature of the street. This street of walkers is the heart of small business in Seville. Since the late middle ages it has been the haunt of blacksmiths, cobblers, and artisans of every kind.

Sierpes Street also hosts events. It is the designated route for Semana Santa between the plaza de la Campana to the Plaza San Francisco. In summer the heat can be intense but with the coming of evening the street comes alive. Street performers, mimes and artists make their appearance. The play resumes, as it has since the 15th century.

Walking Tours in Seville, Spain

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles

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