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Revision as of 19:14, 28 August 2007
View of the Gothic cathedral and the Moorish bell-tower La Giralda (the former minaret of the mosque), Seville
Seville (Sevilla)  is the capital of Andalucia, the cultural and financial centre of southern Spain. A city of just over 700,000 inhabitants (1.6 million in the metropolitan area, making it Spain's 4th largest city), Seville has much to offer the traveller.
According to legend, Seville was founded by Hercules. It was known as Hispalis under the Romans, and Ishbiliya (أشبيليّة) during the Moorish occupation. The high point in its history was following the discovery of America.
The city is situated on the banks of the smooth, slow Guadalquivir River, which divides the city into two halves: Sevilla and Triana. The river head is located much further West, and its basin is very large. The river mouth is located in Sanlúcar de Barrameda and crosses the Doñana National Park (one of the most important wetlands in Europe, breeding ground to many species of birds). The Guadalquivir (known as Betis by the Romans and as Betik Wahd-Al-Khabir by the Arabs) has had a major impact in the history of the city. The location of Sevilla is roughly coincident with the point where the Guadalquivir stops being useful for navigation. It is at this point that the cereal producing region of the Guadalquivir Valley starts, and Sevilla has acted as a sea-port for commerce of agricultural goods produced further West. Intense trade existed in the area from Roman times, continued under Muslim rule, and exploded as Seville monopolized the new trade with the Americas. As the monopoly was broken ([Cádiz] largely took Seville's place), the city entered a period of relative decline.
Seville has played host to two international exhibitions - the Ibero-American Exhibition in 1929 and the International Exposition in 1992.
Inhabitants of the city are known as Sevillanos.
Sevilla International Airport is located about 25 minutes drive from the city center.
A bus service  runs about every 30 minutes from just outside the Arrivals hall during most of the day (though with longer gaps 1pm-4pm) and costs approx. €2.40. Taxis are always available next to the bus stop and run on a fixed fare to Seville center, just under €18 during the day and just under €21 after 10pm and at weekends / holidays. Much controversy has been stirred by some taxi drivers trying to overcharge tourists, so be careful to pay no more than this if you are traveling into the city. Other destinations outside Seville obviously cost more and are metered. Tips are not necessary, though €1-2 for a polite, helpful service is appreciated.
La Parra Internation Airport in located 10km from Jerez de la Frontera, in the way to Seville.
Used by cheaper flight companies such as Ryanair (from Frankfurt-Hahn London-Stansted).
Sevilla Santa Justa Station is located on the eastern edge of Seville city centre. Completed in 1991, the station is the southern terminus of the Spanish high speed AVE train service.
High-speed, less than an hour to wonderful city of Córdoba, less than three hours trains run from Madrid to Seville; however, slower trains remain a bargain. And, there is an overnight train that runs from Barcelona to Seville in under 11 hours.
Driving is also always an option for long distance travel in Spain, but isn't as convenient or as useful once in town.
Regular buses run to/from most major cities, departing either from the Plaza de Armas bus station near the river, or the Prado de San Sebastián station near the University/Santa Cruz.
For example at the Cibercenter, C/. Julio César 8, not far from, the main bus station.
Visitors to Seville should consider the Sevilla Card , designed to aid city exploration and conserve precious travel funds. The card includes free admission to most Seville museums and monuments, unlimited use of public transportation (TUSSAM Buslines, NB: only for Cards with Public Transport), a guided visit of the Real Alcazar of Seville, the unlimited use of sightseeing buses, boat rides on the Guadalquivir River and admission to the Isla Mágica Theme Park. The card also allows access to significant discounts in shops, restaurants, shows and leisure centres for adults and children. The Sevilla card is accompanied by a guide and city map.
The Sevilla card comes in three denominations of 1, 2 or 3 days’ duration in blocks of 24 hours from the time of first activation when inserted into the electronic validation terminal of the suppliers associated with the Sevilla Card Programme (be careful not to activate too soon).
Prices: 1 day €50 (with transport €53), 2 days €60 (with transport €66), 3 days €65 (with transport €72). The 2 and 3 day options attract a discount of €3 per card when purchased on the website.
The Sevilla Card can be purchased by the folllowing means: Online ; by telephone +34 91 600 21 21 / 902 088 908; and, once in Seville, at tourism offices, the airport, the train station, travel agencies and through national and international tour operators (check the website for addresses).
If you are simply interested in using the local buses  (€ 1 single fare), you can get a bonobus, a 10 trip travel card. Bonobuses are found at most kiosks. Regular times are kept until around 11:30 pm, after which night buses run, with different routes, on the hour until 2am.
- The Cathedral of Seville was once judged the third largest church in the world after Saint Peter's in Rome and Saint Paul's in London; it is now arguably the largest church in the world when compared using the measurement of volume. Seville's fifteenth century cathedral occupies the site of the former great mosque built in the late twelfth century. The central nave rises to an awesome 37 metres over a total area of 11,520 square metres. The Cathedral is the final resting place of the remains of Christopher Columbus.
- La Giralda is a large and beautiful minaret tower, originally intended for the chief mosque, but now the magnificent bell tower of the Cathedral and symbol of Seville. Climb the 34 ramps for a great view of the city.
- The Real Alcázar is a beautiful palace in the Mudéjar (Moorish) style, began in the XIV Century by Pedro I the Cruel. Free visit if you are a student.
- The Jewish Quarter (Barrio Santa Cruz) is located around the Cathedral. It is filled with small winding streets and is generally regarded as the most charming part of the city, but it is also fairly touristy.
- the Hospital de los Venerables, Plaza de los Venerables, admission adults €4.75 - a 17th century retirement home and hospital for aged and sickly retired priests, recently restored by the Fundación Focus-Abengoa to preserve an example of Andalusian architecture at its very best. Includes a resplendent Baroque chapel - not to be missed. Admission includes an informative audioguide.
- Torre de Oro is a thirteenth century tower, the top of which is rumored to have once been covered in gold. It now houses the local maritime museum, admission €1 for students.
- Parque María Luisa was built for the 1929 Iber-Americano World's Fair and now is landscaped with attractive monuments and museums.
- Plaza de España is the site of the Spanish pavilion from the 1929 exhibition. It is somewhat in need of repair. Visit it early in the morning on a weekday to see a long line of immigrants outside one of the government offices it now houses; visit it right before it closes (officially at 10pm but likely half and hour later) to see it completely empty and rather eery.
- Universidad de Sevilla is an old, beautiful university set near the Parque Maria Luisa.
- The Museum of Fine Arts at Plaza del Museo is worth seeing although it can't compare with the museums in Madrid (see Museo de Bellas Artes, below).
- Casa de Pilatos is a Sixteenth Century palace and generally thought to be one of the best in the city. Admission €8; free after 1pm Tuesdays.
Museums and Galleries
- the Museo de Bellas Artes, Plaza del Museo, 9, tel +34 954 22 18 29, +34 954 22 07 90, open Tu 3pm-8pm, We-Sa 9am-8pm, Su 9am-2pm; closed Mondays; free entrance for EU citizens - considered by some as the second most important fine arts museum in Spain after the Prado in Madrid. The museum building is a former mercy convent renewed in the 17th century and the fifteen exhibition rooms show a comprehensive picture of Sevillian art from the Gothic period to the early trends of the 20th century. The square just outside hosts an open-air art market on Sundays until around 1:30 pm. Plenty of original paintings on local topics, although some not so interesting bits as well!
- Semana Santa - the sombre Easter week processions feature thousands of people and go on all week - a spectacular display of conspicuous Catholicism
- Feria de abril - a release after the sombreness of Semana Santa, a huge party of eating and drinking
- Go out - the nightlife of Seville is fantastic; no other European city has so many bars per inhabitant than Seville. In summmer go to Isla Cartuja and find out why the Spanish night doesn't stop before 7 AM. There you can find plenty of open-air discoteques. Other nightlife spots include Calle Betis in Triana, La Alamede de Hércules, and Plaza Alfalfa.
- Flamenco - Flamenco is in fact very popular at the moment in Spain and is not just for tourists, however finding the right place is hard (unless you ask a local). El Arenal is one place to consider. The Cultural Centre, C/ Ximénez de Enciso, 28 (Santa Cruz). Tel 954 56 06 70, is a good spot to see real flamenco, performances are daily at 9:00pm, it costs €22, €10 for students and Sevillians, €6 for kids (4 to 10).
- Private Guided Tours, Discover Sevilla with Antonio Doblas (Phone 34-616253798 / [email protected] ), This professional tour guide offers guided tours for groups and individual travellers to the most important monuments, bike tours, tapas and wines tours, sightseeings by horse carriage, cruise along the Guadalquivir River and sevillian ranch tours.
- Walking Tours, mailto:[email protected], 902 158 226, 616 501 100,  - fascinating and integral to the enjoyment of a city are all the little bits and stories that audioguides don't provide. The guide is interesting and interested in what she does—if she doesn't know something she will endeavour to find out. Entry to buildings is not included—consider combining the tour with a Seville tourist card. Reductions are available for taking various combinations of these tours.
- City Tour, Mo-Sa, fee €10, meets at 10:30am in front of the statue in Plaza Nueva
- Cathedral Tour, Mo, We, Fr, fee €6, meets at 1:00pm in the Plaza del Triunfo.
- Alcazar Tour, Tu, Th, Sa, fee €6, meets at 1:00pm in the Plaza del Triunfo.
- Horse drawn carriage rides found near the cathedral take you to the nearby park and other sites of interest - for the sake of the animals, try to avoid / discourage the use of carriage rides in the heat of the day in summer
Entrance to the Bull Fighting Arena, Seville
- Attend a Bull Fight at the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza - not for the squeamish or those with convictions on animal welfare! Failing that, a visit to the arena and the attached museum of bull-fighting (€5.00) is well worth the time...
- Wander through an open-air market. Vendors in many parts of the city sell on the streets, but on Sunday, when everything else is closed, a few spots really fill up. One market is located behind the Alcampo shopping center at Ronda del Tamarguillo on Avenida de la Paz (Bus lines 30, 36 from Prado de San Sebastian), but it is easily outdone by a large fleamarket, selling clothes, furniture, trash, books, shoes, CDs, food, tools, and probably everything else just Northwest of Triana near Avenida Carlos III (off of the lefhand side of most tourist maps).
- Rent a bike in María Luisa Park. Seville is in the process of building many bike paths; one pleasant route covers most of the East bank of the river.
- Climb to the top of the Cerro de Carambolo for a view of the whole city. The hill is outside of the town but can be reached on the M-170, M-171, and M-173 from the Plaza de Armas bus station.
- Cruises, an hour in duration, leave from beneath the Torre de Oro and travel a circuit on the Guadalquivir river.
Seville is home to many beautiful artifacts; some of the more popularly known are plates and Spanish tiles. There are stores that custom design plates and tiles near the cathedral, especially in Calle Sierpes, but across the river in Triana are other worthwhile pottery stores. Depending on the time of year, but especially leading up to Christmas, there are a number of artesanal fairs throughout the city.
Seville offers a wide variety of retail clothing, although generally at high prices. The main shopping district is home to all the big international and Spanish clothing lines (such as Zara - at least 4 separate stores!) The winding streets and alleyways of the Santa Cruz area (around the Cathedral) do a roaring trade in Spanish- and Andaludian-themed T-shirts for all and inexpensive flamenco dresses for little girls.
- Toro de Fuego, , Hernando Colon, 38 local 3, tel 954 215 176 - an above-average and tasteful T-shirt boutique, offering a large number of variations on the popular "bull of fire" theme... Printing is high quality, the fabric is good quality and proprietor María Gutiérrez is friendly and helpful. T-shirts average €16 for all sizes.
Seville, like most Andalusian destinations, is known for its tapas. "Tapa," while it is associated with certain dishes, is actually a size and many restaurants or bars will offer a "tapa," "1/2 ración" (half serving, although sometimes enough to make a meal) and "ración" (serving) of the same dish. There are many great tapas places around the foot of the cathedral in the center of town. You can't go wrong, simply order one of everything to find your favorite! Some tipical tapas include "tortilla española" (potato omlette), "pulpo gallego" (galician octopus), "aceitunas" (olives), "papas bravas" (spicy potatoes), and "queso manchego" (goat cheese from the nearby La Mancha region). Also be sure to try the ham, which you often see hanging above the bar.
Some bars near the river, such as "Pedalquivir" and "El Faro de Triana," offer a nice view but aren't as good of a deal in terms of the quality of the food. A good deal can more easily be had at less characteristic places such as "Sloppy Joe's Pizza Inn" and "Papasá." For the most typical and interesting meal, stop at one of the many bars, especially one which doesn't offer English menus (the prices are likely to be lower).
If you're vegetarian, make sure you specify that you eat no fish or tuna as vegetarian only implies no flesh here. A place with a very good selection of
vegetarian and vegan foods is Habanita, a quiet open air restarurant in the center of the city.
- There are quite a few teterias in Triana across the river offering teas, shakes and middle eastern pastries in a cozy cushion filled environment.
- Across from the cathedral sits a coffee shop called Cafe de Indias where you can buy delicious chocolate shakes and coffees. Down the street is a patisserie shop selling wonderful chocolate covered palmeras, a wonderful afternoon treat after a long day touring the sites. There are many coffee shops and patisserie shops in Seville, particularly in Calle Asunción in Los Remedios. Café de Indias, Starbucks and other franchises have descended lately on the city and are a good option in an emergency, but you can get a decent coffee in most local bars. For an up-market classic, visit La Campana, at the end of calle Sierpes.
- Don't miss 'Cervecería La Internacional', one of the best beer shops in Spain. More than 250 types of beer, wonderful tapas and good connections: it's located in Calle Barcelona, just 1 minute away from Plaza Nueva, where the Town Hall is. However, do not get confused: it is international, meaning, not typically sevillano.
- Sangría (an alcoholic fruit punch) is often sought by tourists, but Tinto de Verano (a mix of red wine and lemon or orange soda) is more authentic, has less alcohol, and is often cheaper.
- Cruzcampo, the local beer, is worth trying. Compared to other Spaniards, Sevillanos consume more beer and less wine.
- The tap water in Seville is not that bad.
- Agua de Sevilla is a pretended popular drink. You will never see a person from Seville drinking it, despite all the tourists drinking it as if it were something popular.
Accommodation prices in Seville are slightly higher than the rest of Andalusia. They also change with the tourist seasons. High season is August - September, Semana Santa, and Feria; Mid - High Season is May-June. For a more intimate experience on a budget, wander into Santa Cruz, the old Jewish Quarter and you will wonderful "pensiones" offering comfy beds and typical courtyard views.
Most places have air conditioning but be sure to ask in summer; you will want it. You will probably pass the siesta (early afternoon) in your room to escape the heat.
- Hostel Nuevo Suizo . Hostal Nuevo Suizo - the hostel located at the very heart of sevilla with in walking distance of all tourist attractions, monuments, museums etc., supermarkets and shopping area of the city.
- Oasis Backpackers' Hostel Sevilla, . The Oasis Backpacker's Hostel is near the Plaza Encarnación. For 20€ a night, including internet and breakfast, you will feel at home here, making many new friends from all around the world. They organize daily activities which are fun and a great way to explore the city with like-minded people.
- Sevilla Urbany Hostel, .Sevilla Urbany Hostel is a new line of hostels which offers travelers high quality, economical accommodation. Sevilla Urbany Hostel represents all of what Sevilla has to offer its visitors. Its central location allows travelers to enjoy and explore this marvelous city. Prices are up to 18€ (dorm) to 30€ per night/person (twin room). Breakfast, Lockers and Air Conditioning in rooms, and free Internet is also included.Seville Urbany Hostel, without a doubt the hostel for the smarter backpacker!
- Grupo Piramide, (between the Alcazar and the Indian Archives) . A Group of four hotels named after artists offering good accommodation. Each offers a slightly different form of accommodation, Hospederia Dalí, Hotel Zurbarán, Hostal Van Gogh, Hostal Picasso. Contact information and map are available on their website. (Hostal Van Gogh, double room with private bathroom, €50 in June)
- Hotel Amadeus Alvarez Quintero 52. Small boutique hotel in a good location.
- Hotel Alfonso XIII  - the most luxurious hotel in Seville, built for the Exposicion in 1929, and with prices to match!
- Las Casas de la Judería, Callejón Dos Hermanas, 7. (in Santa Cruz), . A lovely old collection of houses beside a church that was once a synagogue. Very expensive (rooms start at €150 (prices less than this probably do not include breakfast.(€32)). Rooms are often nothing special, apparently offers a pool. You can get a slightly smaller room elsewhere for two thirds the price. Perhaps wander in for a look around at its court yards but if you want a special night or two, look elsewhere. Room and reception service incredibly slow, virtually unresponsive without repeated requests!
- Casa Romana Hotel Boutique Trajano 15. $200 and up.
- San Gil hotel Doctor Cortezo 3. . A converted palace dating back to 1901, the hotel San Gil is listed as one of the hundred best buildings in Seville. Positioned in the Old Quarter of the city it was completely renovated and extended four years ago, and now boasts 61 guest rooms which include air-conditioning, phone, satellite TV, minibar and safe. The small rooftop pool and sun terrace provide enchanting views and a traditional style bar/coffee shop and adjacent breakfast room complete the San Gil's facilities.
- Casas de los mercaderes . The Hotel Casas de los Mercaderes is located in the shopping area of the city centre, between San Francisco Sq. and Salvador sq. next to the famous Sierpes and Tetuán streets. Its quality makes it one of the best 3 star hotels in Seville.
- The Prado de San Sebastian bus station offers routes to other cities in Andalucía, including Córdoba, Granada, and Algeciras where it is possible to continue on by ferry to Morocco. the Plaza de Armas bus station offers routes to other parts of Spain and other countries, most notably Portugal.
- Nearby Cordoba is a wonderful day trip (about an hour by train) or 2 days to see everything. Visit the Mezquita with peppermint striped arches, the old white walled Jewish quarter where every turn offers a new view, and the Medina Azahara archeological site. You can also take a bath in Hamam, Arabic baths massage included, very relaxing.
- Nearby Granada, offering the incredible Alhambra, is possible on a long day trip, but better for an overnight or long weekend.
- Nearby Cadiz a wonderful, ancient (oldest city in Europe) city. It's an hour and a half by train, a little less by car. Walk its downtown, bath in its beaches and taste its delicious fish. And if it's Carnival time, don't miss one of the more massive Carnival in the world (and surely one of the funniest ones).
- Even nearer, Italica, a partially excavated Roman city, is only a brief bus ride away on the M-172 (from Plaza de Armas Bus Station). Most of it is lost under the village of Santiponce, but several streets and the footings of houses and public buildings with mosaic tiled floors can be seen. The highlight is one of the largest known Roman amphitheatres with seats for 25,000.
- In the summer, cruises are offered from beneath the Torre de Oro to Sanlucar de Barrameda at the mouth of the river.
- For a longer trip, Madrid is 2.5 hours from Sevilla using the AVE from the Santa Justa Train Station at the end of Avenida de Kansas City.
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