From Carmen’s cigar factory to a modern wooden monolith, Seville wears its chequered past on its sleeve, says Jeannine Williamson
1. ABOUT: This stylish city boasts UNESCO World Heritage sites, a rich Arab legacy, the old cigar factory that inspired the fiery Spanish opera Carmen, and captivating historic quarters dating back to when Seville was an important port of trade with the Americas. The Guadalquivir River cuts a swathe across the city, with the golden 13th-century military watchtower, the Torre del Oro — one of Seville’s most recognizable sights — on its banks.
2. HOTEL: Located in the historic and vibrant neighborhood of Santa Cruz, the landmark Hotel Alfonso XIII has been attracting royalty, famous guests and elite travelers drawn by its vintage glamor and charm since 1928. The building was commissioned by the eponymous king to host VIPs attending the 1929 Ibero-American world fair, and has recently undergone a complete restoration, with 151 bedrooms decorated in opulent Moorish, Castilian and Andalusian styles.
3. ATTRACTION: Aside from the living history of the city’s streets, Seville has many excellent museums, such as the Museum of Fine Arts. Located in the 18th-century convent of La Merced Calzada, there are works by El Greco, Velazquez, Zurbaran, plus an outstanding collection of paintings by Baroque artist Murillo located in the former chapel.
4. BUILDING: Away from Seville’s numerous historic monuments, the extraordinary Metropol Parasol in La Encarnacion square is said to be the world’s largest wooden structure.
It was designed by German architect Jurgen Mayer H. and opened in 2011. Resembling six giant mushrooms — hence its nickname ‘Las Setas’ — the building contains a food market, shops, cafes, the Antiquarium archeological museum and winding walkways leading to a rooftop viewing platform.
5. SHOP: Located on the western side of the Guadalquivir River close to the Isabel II bridge, the indoor Triana Market is packed with colorful stalls selling fruit, vegetables, cheese, ham, olives, and other local produce, along with bars and cafes offering tasty tapas. The Triana district is celebrated for its glazed ceramic tiles, or azulejos, originally made using mud from the river bank, and which make great souvenirs.
6. RESTAURANT: The elegant La Taberna del Alabardero is situated in a 19th-century mansion that was the birthplace of Spanish poet J. Antonio Cavestany. It’s run by chef Juan Marcos, co-founder of other Taberna del Alabardero establishments in Spain and the US. Expect traditional and regional Spanish specialties with a strong emphasis on seafood. Special 40th anniversary and set tasting menus are priced at $40 and $62, respectively.
7. CAFE: When energy levels are in need of a boost after a busy morning sightseeing, visitors can head to the Confiteria La Campana, a local institution serving coffee and sugary treats since 1885. Close to the Calle Sierpes shopping street, the outdoor tables are a top spot for people-watching. The delicious traditional nata custard, flaky pastries and indulgent chocolate eclairs are
8. VIEW: Accessed via 35 ramps, built to be wide enough to allow the passage of two guards on horseback, the long climb to the top of La Giralda is worth the effort. Seville Cathedral’s 300ft Moorish bell tower took 12 years to complete and offers a superb 360-degree view of the cityscape and landmarks such as the Alcazar royal palace and Plaza de Espana.
Consorcio Turismo de Sevilla
T: +34 955 471 216