Like every great city in Europe, Seville has its share of must-see attractions, but the capital of Spain’s Andalusia region also boasts that quixotic quality that travelers yearn for the most: atmosphere. While the city’s lively mix of Gothic, Mudejar, Renaissance and Modern architecture is dazzling, it’s the lust for life of the Sevillian people that makes a trip to Seville so unique and memorable. There’s an irresistible vitality to Seville that bathes Spain’s fourth-largest city with a warm and sunny glow. Whether swaying to the rhythmic tapping of a flamenco dancer’s nail-capped shoes or dancing the night away at a modern open-air discotheque, it’s hard to sit still in this engaging city. An overview of the top tourist attractions in Seville:
Parque de Maria Luisa
Seville’s primary public park, the Parque de María Luisa stretches along the Guadalquivir River near the center of the city. Most of the park’s grounds were originally part of the gardens of the Palace of San Telmo and were donated to the city in 1893. Landscape designer Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier is responsible for the park’s present configuration. The park is known for its large population of birds, which include doves, swans, parrots and ducks. Statues, ponds and fountains scattered throughout the park make it a picturesque and pleasant spot in which to relax in the Spanish sun.
Located at La Encarnacion square in Seville’s Old City district, the newly completed Metropol Parasol is described as the largest wooden structure in the world. Designed by German architect Jurgen Mayer-Hermann, the building features six gigantic umbrella-shaped structures made of birch wood imported from Finland. Nicknamed Las Setas de la Encarnacion, or Incarnacion’s Mushrooms, the modern design has spurred almost as much controversy as the building’s exorbitant price tag. Delays and changes in building methods doubled the estimated cost of 50 million euros. The structure is home to a marketplace, an antiquarium, a restaurant and an open air plaza.
Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza
For visitors who are interested in the Spanish tradition of bullfighting, the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza is a can’t-miss destination. The oldest bullring in Spain, the 14,000-seat arena dates back to 1758, and bullfights are still held here on Sundays from spring to fall. Visitors don’t need to watch a bullfight, however, to learn more about the tradition. The adjacent museum exhibits artifacts and information about famous bulls and matadors. Tickets include admission to the museum and a guided tour of the ring.
Casa de Pilatos
Located next to the Plaza de Pilatos, the Caso de Pilatos is considered a premier example of an Andalusian palace. Designed by architect Genoese Antonio Maria Aprile in 1529, the “Pilate’s House” was so named in reference to the original owner’s son, Fadrique Enriquez de Rivera, who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1519. Although the building is privately owned by the Medinaceli family, it’s open to the public for guided tours much of the year. Standout features include a series of bullfight paintings by Francisco Goya, a 16th-century marble gate and a grand staircase ornamented with a Mudéjar-style honeycomb ceiling.