Charmed by Seville : Plaza de Espana and Alcazar

We spend 4 days in Seville, it was our first stop in Spain. we flew into Barcelona from Dallas and then took Iberia Airline to Seville. We took a cab from the airport into town, we were charmed right when the taxi entered the town, the narrow colorful picturesque orange tree-lined streets, the Moorish Palace, the beautiful Cathedral and the horse carriages at every corner made us fall in love with the little town of Seville. The first day we just wandered around and took a tram over to España around golden hour.

Plaza de España

The Plaza de España is one of the most remarkable constructions of the 20th century, and of the city in itself. Its size is spectacular, and it’s even been used as the backdrop for several films. Along the half-moon building, there are detailed tiles and ceramic handicraft, symbolizing Spain and its relationship with Latin and South American countries.  Originally built in 1929, the Plaza de España was created to showcase the talent and creativity of Spaniards during the Ibero-American Exposition. The backdrop of this plaza is a large semi-circle building, designed in an eclectic mix of Renaissance Revival, Art Deco and Neo-Mudéjar styles. As you make your way through the area, you’ll notice painted ceramics (known as azulejos) throughout. Everything from the banisters of fences, to many of the lamp posts, have been carefully painted and decorated. The fountains, the tiled benches that represents the different province in Spain are beautiful.  The square is surrounded by a long D shaped canal (1,690 ft) that is crossed by four bridges, each one representing the four ancient kingdoms of Spain (Castile, León, Aragón and Navarra)  where you can hire a small rowboats and row-row-row a boat and admire the plaza de Espana.

Plaza Espana

Sunset at Plaza Espana

The beautiful tile work at the plaza – Azulejos! There are 48 alcoves or benches representing each province of Spain.

Tile benches at Plaza Espana

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The next day we started with breakfast at Horno San Buenaventura (Avenida de la Constitución, 16) right across from the Cathedral.  Sevillians love to have a quick breakfast of coffee and bread, if you want anything more substantial like eggs this is the place for it.

Click here to read about our other travels in Spain

Breakfast near the Cathedral

Alcázar

We walked along the Cathedral to reach the Plaza del Triunfo looking for the Lion’s Gate – the Alcázar’s entrance. The Alcázar is one of the most impressive monuments of Seville. This royal palace was built in the 14th century, and as time went on, more buildings were added to the complex, resulting in a mix of Arabic styles and Christian influences. The word Alcázar is a synonym of castle (castillo) and it comes from the Arabic word al qasr. Both the palace and its gardens are beautiful, we walked around the different rooms and gardens.

Alcazar Enterance

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DSCN0071The Mudejar Palace, also known as the Palacio del Rey Don Pedro, was built by Pedro I of Castile in 1364. He employed Jewish and Moorish workers and craftsmen from Seville, Granada and Toledo. The Palace was completed adding elements of other buildings, mainly from Cordoba, Granada.

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Further into the Alcázar is the stunning Patio de las Doncellas or Courtyard of the Maidens, a rectangular courtyard containing a small fountain.  It is based on an urban legend about the Muslim Moors demanding an annual gift of 100 virgin maidens from the Castile Kingdom. If the Castile Kingdom failed to provide this gift, the Moors threatened to conquer them. Though most likely untrue, it served as encouragement for the Christian Kingdoms to join together to reconquer the south of Spain.

The courtyard has a reflective pool with sunken gardens on either side. The lower arches are a classic of the Mudejar style, with very thin columns and an impressive decoration at the top. The upper floor was added in the later 16th century (between 1540 and 1572) and it is easy to recognize the Renaissance style in it. Despite the differences, both elements end up creating a patio with an amazing harmony. The arches have such elaborate carving that make it look like lace.

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The palace has three main rooms: the Tapestry Room, the Chapel, and the Gothic Room (also known as the Feast Room). The Tapestry Room had to be built from scratch after the earthquake but the tapestries are Flemish, from the 16th century. The Chapel and Gothic Room have beautiful tiles that cover part of the walls.

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Tapestry room

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The courtroom, where the Catholic Monarchs  – Isabel I of Castile and her husband Fernando II of Aragon, met Columbus after his second voyage, was transformed into a chapel where you can see a model of the ship.

court room at the Alcazar
The Alcázar’s garden – Jardin de Estanque de Mercurio, which pays homage to the Roman god Mercury. Among others, Mercury is the patron saint of commerce, eloquence, communication, travelers, and luck. A statue of Mercury stands in the middle of a square pond in the garden. We walked through the beautiful gardens’ orange trees and bougainvillea.

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Gardens

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The elaborate Abanicos and ceramic tiles on display at the Alcazar

Abanicos

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Lunch at Santa Cruz Neighborhood

After visiting the Alcazar we went to Santa Cruz for lunch.  Barrio de Santa Cruz was once a Jewish quarter and now is a perfect place to get to know the Seville. A labyrinth of alleyways, white-washed housing, restaurants and boutiques, this area is definitely the highlight of the city.  We strolled along its narrow streets and found a wonderful restaurant to linger and taste the tapas, gazpacho and sherry.

Tips and Information

Real Alcázar was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site . Not only has it been beautifully maintained for centuries, it is also the oldest royal palace still in use. The upper floors of the Alcázar serve as the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family when they are in the city.

Website: The Royal Alcázar of Seville
Address: Plaza del Triunfo, s/n  41004 – Sevilla
Entrance: General ticket: 9.50 €,Reduced ticket: 2 € (Seniors, Students from 17 to 25), Free (Under 16, Residents in Seville, Disabled and an escort)

Plaza de España is located near the Maria Luisa Park on Glorieta San Diego, Avenida
Paddle boat around the canal fare: 35€ for 35 minutes. 4 people per boat.  You can go up the tower and visit the plaza for free.  We loved it here during sunset.

We visited during end of July and it was pretty hot,  our kids were a little exhausted from the heat – visiting during Spring break or earlier in Summer might be better with kids.

Souvenir Shopping

Abanicos – the intricate Andalucían fans, are not just for flamenco dancers, it is a necessity when in Andalucía,  the region is so hot this beautiful fan comes in handy.  We got a couple to stave off the summer heat. The best espadrille shoes can also be found in the Seville.

Click here to read about our other travels in Spain

Have you been to Andalucia?  Tell us about your experiences and recommendations.

 

 

 

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