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Seductive Seville woos visitors slowly but surely. Far from flashy, this Andalusian capital may be the country’s fourth largest city, but it feels approachable and authentic in ambiance. From its historic center (Europe’s largest) and magnificent Gothic cathedral to its Mudéjar palaces and labyrinthian medieval lanes, Seville oozes with stories of the past.

 Here’s what not to miss in Seville, Spain

1.  Barrio de Santa Cruz

streets of Seville

The city’s former Jewish quarter is the largest historic center in all of Europe, the Barrio de Santa Cruz.  Here you’ll find many of Seville’s must-see sights, including the Real Alcazar de Sevilla and the Giralda Tower of the Cathedral.

Get lost, in the best possible way, along the narrow alleyways that wrap around traditional white houses, attractive town squares, and bustling restaurants. Other top neighborhood sites: the Museo del Baile Flamenco and Sevillano painter Bartolomé Murillo’s house-museum. 

2.  Real Alcazar de Sevilla

he-real-alcazar-Seville

So much more than just a filming location for Game of Thrones, this breathtaking royal palace complex marries Christian and Mudéjar architecture on a site initially developed in 913.

Today, you can bear witness to the additions and renovations that occurred over the past 11 centuries, including the Palacio de Don Pedro, added in the 14th century by King Pedro in collaboration with the Muslim emir of Granada, Mohammed V, who was responsible for most of the decorative features at the Alhambra.

Don’t miss the sunken garden in the center of the Patio de las Doncellas, surrounded by eye-catching arches and tiling; the beautiful ceilings of the Royal Quarters; and the spectacular, 15th-century Salón de Embajadores, with its wooden dome of multiple star patterns that represent the universe. 

3.  Seville Cathedral

cathedral in Seville Spain

The world’s largest Gothic cathedral, the Seville Cathedral, was built on top of the city’s former main mosque.  Today, you can still see the mosque’s mighty bell tower (the Giralda), which lies (purportedly) the tomb of Christopher Columbus and the mosque’s original minaret.

Explore the Sacristía de Los Cálices, noticing Francisco de Goya’s 1817 painting of the Sevillan martyrs, Santas Justa y Rufina, hanging above the altar. Over 1,000 carved biblical figures are in the Main Chapel, considered the world’s largest altarpiece. 

4.  Torre del Oro

tower of god

Don’t miss the “Tower of God,” a 118-foot-high tower built by the Almohads in the 12th century.  Originally part of the Moorish city wall, the tower was used for shipping control on the Guadalquivir River.

Visit the marine museum on the tower’s top floor to see antique shipping instruments, scale models, and sea maps. 

Is the tower actually made of gold? (Some say it references plundered gold stored in the tower – you decide.) you’ll learn that, no, in fact, its name comes from the way golden light reflects off its tiles.

5.  Barrio de Triana

bull fighting ring

You can’t see Seville without learning about its bullfighting and flamenco traditions.  For this history lesson, visit Triana, a working-class neighborhood across the Guadalquivir River.

This quieter district is pleasingly authentic and less touristy.  It’s known as the birthplace of flamenco, so be sure to take in a performance or sign up for a lesson.  Grab a snack at Mercado de Triana, the daily fresh market brimming with produce, meats, fish, and local delicacies.

According to local legend, baptized children will be blessed with a good flamenco voice if they visit the Santa Ana Church.

 

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