Sevilla does not lack culture and entertainment offerings. You’ll find here colorful fiestas, stunning architecture, excellent restaurants, really hip shops and boutiques, world-class nightlife, lovely music, sporting activities, lively performing arts scene, and more.
Being a predominantly Catholic city, like the rest of Spain, Sevilla has lively fiestas that draw flock of local and foreign tourists. If you happen to visit during such occasions, make sure to participate in the festivities. These events would surely make your vacation more than worth the trip.
One of the most fascinating things about Sevilla is the wonderful culture that you can see through its elaborate architecture. The city is definitely overflowing with so much history and the walls of its old building breathe as if keeping secrets of the past yet to be revealed. The baroque, renaissance, and romantic architecture is a living testimony to the grandeur that Sevilla has experienced.
Sevilla is a city where people love to eat. But you don’t have to shell out a fortune just to sample to-die-for cuisine. All you need is the right information to find the fine Sevilla dining that cannot hurt your purse. To discover the best places where you can eat at the price that will match your budget, do your research.
From the most luxurious designer’s products to the cheapest street wears and accessories, shopping is among the most enjoyable things to do in this Spanish city. Sevilla nightlife is also very much full and alive always. When you get to the city you will immediately realize that people just seem to be full of energy.
Sevilla is not just a place of fashion, great shops, or busy markets. The Spanish capital is also a place of sports. Additionally, Sevilla is also known for its wide varieties of music. Whether you are an avid or average music buff, you will definitely love jazz, opera, and flamenco.
Performing arts in Sevilla is very lively that is why a typical city theater always buzzes with activities. You have so many choices of theaters in the Spanish capital that offer different shows and performances.
Whether you are interested to see ancient Roman ruins uncovered in nearby Itálica in the Archaeological Museum, appreciate some of Spain’s major paintings in the Fine Arts Museum, or take an up-close look at those shiny outfits donned by bullfighters in the Bullfighting Museum, satisfy your curiosity with a visit to some of the many museums in Sevilla
Fine Arts Museum
Housed in the renovated Convento de la Merced, Sevilla’s magnificent Fine Arts Museum has occupied the building since 1839. The extensive complex of beautiful courtyards and intertwining halls from the 13th-century former convent is now graced by impressive works of such greats as Zurbarán, El Greco, Valdés Leal, Velazquez, and the Sevillano painter Estebán Murillo.
The 15 spacious halls featuring pieces from the middle ages up through the 20th century have earned the museum acclaim as the country’s most important art gallery next to the Prado Museum in Madrid.
Built for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition, the impressive Mudejar-style building housing the Popular Arts and Customs Museum is tucked into the beautiful Parque de María Luisa. Traditional Andalucían music creates the atmosphere as visitors explore the musical instruments, lifestyles, artisan trades, dwellings, clothing styles, and furniture of traditional Andalucía. The most impressive of its offerings is its varied collection of ceramics, located at the bottom floor of the building.
Contemporary Art Museum
Located in La Cartuja, this museum pays tribute to a wide range of contemporary Andalucían artists. Owning an immense collection of 20th-century artwork including pieces from maestros such as Guillermo Pérez Villalta, Antonio Rodríguez de Luna, and Daniel Vásquez Díaz, the Contemporary Art Museum delights art novices and art buffs alike with its constantly rotating exhibitions of sculptures, paintings, ceramics, and tapestries.
Provincial Archaeological Museum
The Provincial Archaeological Museum is an ode to Andalucía’s diverse and rich history. The charming Renaissance-style building, which was constructed as a pavilion for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition, is now home to an archaeological museum packed with mosaics, artifacts, ruins, sculptures, ceramics, and even sarcophagi that date back to between pre-history and the end of the Moorish era in Andalucía.
Few are the cities that can show off so many surviving and coexisting architectural styles. From the horseshoe-shaped arches and delicate wooden carvings proceeding from Moorish architecture to the simple but daunting structures of the Renaissance-escorialense period, Sevilla is truly an architectural gem.
Having ruled Spain for centuries it comes as no surprise that the Muslim culture had a lasting effect on Spanish architecture. Even when the Moorish empire fell to the forces of the Catholic kings Fernando and Isabel, the typical Muslim architectural forms lived on through the Mudéjar style.
In Sevilla, you can find the two most important examples of buildings with Moorish influences located conveniently side by side: the Giralda and the sprawling Alcázar. You can easily pick out the Moorish elements, such as the lobed and horseshoe-shaped arches, the peaceful courtyards, the ornately carved ceilings, and the repetition of geometric and nature-based designs, that give buildings in Sevilla an exotic touch.
What better way to show off your city’s prosperous epoch than by complementing it with an architectural era of enormous size and grandeur? Sevilla’s greatest Gothic contribution is without a doubt its massive cathedral, in which Gothic elements like colossal altarpieces, flying buttresses, sparse decoration, soaring heights, and impossibly large and beautifully crafted stained glass windows fuse together in a simultaneously somber and spectacular display.
Within the broader category of Renaissance architecture, two styles really shine in Sevilla. The first, called plateresque, incorporates Renaissance, Gothic, and Mudéjar motifs into one intensely decorated style. A great place to really see the plateresque in all its glory is the Ayuntamiento (city hall), where it’s hard to find a free square inch between the sculptures, busts, and complex floral designs that cover building’s façade.
As a multi-tiered reaction to all that the Renaissance stood for, the Baroque period offered a totally different approach to life, art, and, of course, architecture. In fact, architects essentially threw out the stricter classic forms that dominated the Renaissance. The result? Dazzling displays of twisting columns, altered shapes, and highly stylized façades.
Stop by and admire some of Sevilla’s numerous Baroque churches – Santa María la Blanca and El Salvador are a couple of good ones to start out with – and let yourself be wowed by the sensational ornamentation.
Sevilla’s parish churches display a fascinating variety of architectural styles. Several are converted mosques with belfries built over their minarets, others range through Mudejar and Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque.
The cathedral stands majestically on the site of an ancient 12th-century mosque. Construction of the cathedral started in 1401 and took over a century before it was eventually completed. Highlights include many works of art in the chapels, a large courtyard full of orange trees, Roman features, detailed architecture, and some important tombs.
The cathedral’s tall bell tower, La Giralda, is open to the public and visitors to the cathedral can climb to the top, where there are superb panoramic views of Sevilla.
Sevilla’s Iglesia de San Julián is a 14th-century Gothic-style church situated in the city center. Dedicated to the Virgen de la Hiniesta, it has many beautiful features, such as a 400-year-old statue, sculptures, silver lights, and an 18th-century altarpiece.
This 14th-century church retains several Mudejar features, notably its Giralda-like tower and the decoration on the Gothic portal on Plaza de San Marcos. The restoration of the interior, gutted by fire in 1936, has highlighted unique horseshoe arches in the nave. A statue of St Mark with book and quill pen, attributed to Juan de Mesa, is in the far left corner.
14th century Gothic Mudejar with later additions. There are three naves, the one on the right has a beautiful four-sided chapel with a Mudejar ceiling dating from 1379. Dating from the 17th century, there are several paintings by the Sevillian painter, Zurbaran.
Sevilla has many enclosed religious complexes, but few are accessible. This is one of them, a convent set up in 1475 and still home to 40 nuns. The public is welcome to enter through two different doors in the Calle Santa Paula. Knock on the brown one, marked number 11 to look at the convent museum. Steps lead to two galleries, crammed with religious paintings and artifacts. The windows of the second look onto the nuns’ cloister. The nuns make a phenomenal range of marmalades and jams which you may buy in a room near the exit.
Parks and Gardens
Sevilla can really boast about its wide variety of parks, ranging from the largest to the smallest, both private and public. The parks and gardens here include many that were the former private gardens and parklands of the city’s nobility.
Whether it is just a small square with surrounding trees or a larger open space, they are all peaceful places to relax. Here are some of the most popular parks in Sevilla that provide a calming and tranquil oasis, right in the heart of hectic city life.
This vast parkland in the center of Sevilla is well planted and features an enormous amount of attractions. Named after Princess María Luisa, who donated part of the grounds from her Palacio de San Telmo to Sevilla in 1893, the park has been well designed and is heavily planted with trees, shrubs are flowers from around the world.
The park’s most impressive features are the Plaza de España and the Plaza de America, which set the park’s very theatrical mood. The Plaza de España is a large, semicircular plaza that formed the centerpiece at the 1929 Sevilla Exposition.
Other impressive highlights include the Glorieta de la Infanta, a bronze statue honoring the Princess, the Isleta de Los Patos and the Monte Gurugu, a waterfall and fountain. It also houses the Museo Arqueologico as well as the Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares. It is open: daily from 07:00 to 23:00. Admission is free.
The National Park of Coto Donana is situated close to Sevilla and is considered to be one of Europe’s finest wetland areas. Rich in wildlife, the parks are enormous and cover an area in excess of 75,000 hectares / 185,000 acres. In 1969, the parks became officially protected and there is now a wealth of local species and thousands of migrating birds stop at the park in the winter when the marshes become flooded.
Wildlife at the National Park of Coto Donana includes deer, wild cattle, the rare Imperial eagle, the greater flamingo and around 60 pairs of lynx, one of Europe’s rarest mammals. There are official guides tours of the park and the number of visitors is restricted, so be sure to book this in advance. It is open: summer – Monday to Saturday, winter – Tuesday to Sunday.
The city of Sevilla boasts two of the largest festive celebrations in the whole province – Semana Santa and La Feria de Sevilla.
This Andalucian city is world-renowned for the solemn but beautiful processions during Holy Week and the colorful and lively fair held two weeks after. The Easter Week is truly spectacular with extraordinary processions of masked penitents and carnival-style floats. People travel from across the country and around the world to witness this annual week-long event.
There is also the April Fair, which is possibly the largest annual fair in Andalucia. This is a week-long party of drink, food, fino (link sherry) and flamenco. Here, families, organizations, and businesses set up casetas, marquees, in which they spend the week dancing, drinking, and socializing.
Traditionally, men dress in their best suits and women wear elaborate flamenco dresses. They set up the marquees on a permanent fairground in which Every street is named after a famous bullfighter.
Other celebrations taking place in Sevilla include the Rocío pilgrimage, with the “Lunes de Rocío” a traditional holiday (estimated to fall on June 1 in 2009 and May 24 in 2010). Corpus Christi is also observed in the city and the patron saint day, the “Vírgen de Los Reyes”, falls on August 15th.
There are approximately 14 official public holidays in Spain, which can be acknowledged on either a national or local basis. Listed below are those dates observed in Sevilla:
January 1 – Año Nuevo / New Year’s Day
January 5 – Epifanía / Epiphany
March 19 – Dia de San José / St. Joseph’s Day
Late March or early April – Jueves Santo / Maundy Thursday
Late March or early April – Viernes Santo / Good Friday
May 1 – Fiesta del Trabajo / Labour Day
August 15 – La Asunción / Feast of the Assumption
October 12 – Nacional de España / National Day
November 1 – Todos Los Santos / All Saints’ Day
December 6 – Dia de la Constitución / Constitution Day
December 8 – La Inmaculada Concepción / Feast of the Immaculate Conception
December 25 – Navidad / Christmas Day
Sevilla in Movies
What makes a popular city? Well, a city sometimes gains importance through pop culture, that is, how visible it is in popular culture. Like London, Barcelona, and Paris, Sevilla is also a beloved setting for many movie directors. This is because of its range of well-preserved architecture from medieval to regionalist, from every era and style.
Parque Maria Luisa´s Expo 1929 buildings are popular spots: Plaza de España, with its bizarre architectural hotchpotch of sweeping circular façade, neo-Moorish arches, and Venetian bridges, was planet Naboo´s Theed Palace in “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones”.
In the classic “Lawrence of Arabia”, the Palacio Español doubled as the Cairo Officers´ Club, while the park´s Plaza de las Americas was Jerusalem, the nearby Casino was Damascus Town Hall, and the courtyard was the King Alfonso XIII Hotel.
Casa de Pilatos was used in the crusades movie “The Kingdom of Heaven”, starring Orlando Bloom, as well as in “1492: Conquest of Paradise”, about Christopher Columbus. Some Lawrence scenes were also filmed here, while the Alcazar appeared as the court of the King of Jerusalem in the Kingdom.
The Plaza of the Americas also appeared in Anthony Mann’s “El Cid”. It would also serve as the Palace of Vladek Sheybal’s Bashaw in “The Wind and the Lion” (1975) (including the memorable attack scene by the United States Marines.)
In addition, the surrealist film “That Obscure Object of Desire”, by director Luis Buñuel, features many scenes shot in Seville.
Seville is given as the setting of part of the action on Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible II”, but was not shot there. The portrayal of the Holy Week in the film holds no link to reality.
The Spanish translation of “My Fair Lady’s” phonetic exercise “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain” is “La lluvia en Sevilla es una pura maravilla”, “The rain in Seville is a pure marvel”.