Easily one of Spain's most alluring cities, Sevilla is one of southern Spain's true gems. Our weekend trip to Sevilla includes guided visits to the city and its most iconic sights; just sign up at the school reception and come along to discover it all!
Sevilla, Andalucía's capital and largest city, has a historical and cultural heritage that goes back to the Roman Empire, when the city of Hispalis was founded. Hispalis prospered as an important port, thanks to its strategic location on the banks of the Guadalquivir River. The next epoch of its history was as the Muslim city of Ishbiliya; when the Cordoba Caliphate fell apart in the 11th century, Ishbiliya became the most powerful of the individual Moorish kingdoms. In 1248, Ishbiliya succumbed to the Spanish Reconquest, led at the time by King Fernando III.
In the centuries immediately following its incorporation into the Spanish kingdom, Sevilla began to prosper even more, acquiring a monopoly on all Spanish trade in the Americas, and soon became one of the world's richest and most significant cities. The wealth that poured in went into the construction of the magnificent Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque edifices that we see today.
Sevilla spreads out on either side of the Guadalquivir River that divides it. You'll likely spend most of your time on the eastern bank, where the city center, a twisting labyrinth of tiny streets, and most of the top attractions are located.
Trip to Sevilla - Sights
Sevilla's city life has revolved around the Plaza de San Francisco and Calle Sierpes for what amounts to forever. The densely packed area surrounding it is a labyrinth of winding pedestrian streets, emblematic squares and the vast majority of Sevilla's top sights, such as the Renaissance-era Ayuntamiento (City Hall), the Baroque Parroquia del Salvador (Salvador Church) or the Casa de Pilatos, a sprawling 16th-century noble mansion built in the mudejar style.
Cathedral & La Giralda
After the fall of Ishbiliya in 1248, Ishbiliya's main mosque was used as the now-Christian city of Sevilla's church. Nearly 150 years down the line, in 1401, church officials decided to knock the mosque down and deemed necessary the construction of a massive cathedral in its place... and they did just that. Sevilla's Gothic cathedral took over 100 years to finish and, with the main part measuring 126 meters by 83 meters, is one of the world's largest churches. Inside you'll find dozens of chapels, stunning stained glass windows, shimmering gold altarpieces, priceless Spanish artwork and much more. It also conserves some parts of the mosque that once stood in its place, such as the horseshoe-shaped Puerta del Perdón entrance, the courtyard of orange trees and, last but certainly not least, La Giralda. Symbol of Sevilla, the 90-meter tower, which was constructed in brick towards the end of the 12th century, once served as the great mosque's minaret and, fortunately for us, church officials opted to conserve it. The uppermost part was added in the 16th century to permit its new function as a belltower.
Located just across the Plaza del Triunfo from the cathedral is the incredible Reales Alcázares, a sumptuous palatial complex that's seen both Islamic and Spanish rulers. Originally built in 913 as a fortress for rulers of the Cordoba Caliphate, its 11 centuries of existence have seen numerous reconstructions and expansions, with parts added and modified by the various rulers who at one time or another resided there. A mix of Islamic, Gothic and Mudejar styles has resulted in a truly spectacular palace with beautiful rooms and halls, lovely courtyards and gardens and amazing Islamic plasterwork, tilework and adorned ceilings. Can't be missed!
Plaza de España
Sevilla's sprawling Plaza de España was built in the early part of the 20th century as the centerpiece for the 1929 Spanish-American Exhibition Fair. The wide semicircular plaza adorned with swirling tile patterns is located across the street from the leafy María Luisa Park. It was built in a Mudejar revival style and and is surrounded by an enormous arcaded building boasting brick-and-tile alcolves created for each of Spain's many provinces. With arcaded walkways, bursting fountains and minicanals, it's no wonder that it's one of Sevilla's top sights.