“Let us build such a church, that those who come after us shall take us for madmen”.
This is how locals translated the decisions made by the canons in their reunions in 1401. They were, without really realising, giving way to this wonder that stands before us today and whose history astounds us. Seville’s Cathedral was erected after 1402 over the former mosque, from which only the modified minaret (La Giralda) and the ablutions courtyard (now known as the Patio de los Naranjos) remain. In 1987, UNESCO declared the Cathedral as a World Heritage site.
For the seven centuries that the Cathedral has existed, the Metropolitan Chapter has preserved celebrations and festivities such as the Corpus Christi and the Immaculate Conception, and attended to the veneration of the Virgen de los Reyes, Seville’s patroness. The construction underwent several stages, each of which contributed valuable aspects to the overall result of this impressive Cathedral.
Being the third largest Christian temple in the world, after Saint Peter’s in Rome and Saint Paul’s in London, and the largest Gothic cathedral in the world is just one more reason why everyone must visit the Cathedral.
Seville and its historic quarter are, without a doubt, the best choice for your holidays. You can combine leisure and culture, and strolling through the city’s streets is the best way to really understand its art and idiosyncrasy.
Plaza de España is oval in shape and has a diameter of around 200 metres. It is believed to represent a large ’embrace’. The marvellous construction has an impressive tower at the end of each ‘arm’ and a spectacular fountain in the centre of the plaza. Representative of regionalist architecture, the plaza consists of exposed brick and polychrome ceramic appliqué.
The semi-circular shape symbolises an embrace between Spain and its former colonies and looks out towards the Guadalquivir river as a path to follow towards the Americas. It is mainly decorated with exposed brick, marble and ceramics, giving it a Renaissance feel and baroque details feature on the towers. A canal traces the semi-circular shape of the plaza and is crossed by four bridges that represent the four ancient Spanish kingdoms.
Along the walls of the enormous main building are a series of 48 benches, each one dedicated to one of Spain’s provinces. A tiled map of each is accompanied by mosaics depicting historic events, emblems and two pillars with niches, which once displayed books about literature, history and art pertaining to the province.
Seville’s Plaza de España constituted the most emblematic architectural project for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition. Construction works started in 1914, meaning that it was the most ambitious and costly Exposition project, with more than one thousand men working on it at the same time.
It was built between 1761 and 1881 and has a baroque façade painted in bright white and ochre. The ‘tendidos altos‘ (high seats) are covered by a half-roof, supported by marble arches and columns that lend this bullring its unique character.
La Maestranza is the venue for all of the bullfights that take place in the city, with those during the April Feria being especially important for aficionados. It is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions and one of the most visited monuments. The building’s east entrance is called the Puerta del Príncipe, which only the most successful bullfighters may use to leave the arena.
La Puerta Este del edificio es la llamada Puerta del Príncipe, a través de la cual sólo a los más exitosos toreros se les permite salir directamente de la Arena.
La Maestranza bullring also houses a bullfighting museum, which informs visitors of Seville’s bullfighting history and displays collections, which include outfits, paintings, photographs and posters, as well as a purple cape painted by Picasso. Next to the museum stands the Real Maestranza de Caballería (Royal cavalry armoury), which was built by Aníbal González in 1929 and belongs to the bullring. The royal cavalry is a noble corporation that dates back to the time of the Reconquest and was reorganised in the 17th century.
Seville’s Maestranza, together with Las Ventas in Madrid, is considered one of the most important bullrings in Spain and holds more than 12,500 spectators.
One of Seville’s most emblematic monuments is the Giralda, one of the most important in the world and a real treasure.
It was originally the minaret of the Almohad mosque, which dates back to the 12th century, over which the Cathedral was built some time after. The lower half was built by the Moors; construction commenced in 1184 to the request of Abu Yaqub Yusuf, Sultan of Morocco. The foundations were built using stone from ancient Roman constructions, which can still be noted at ground level.
It was once the tallest minaret in the world and one of the most beautiful of the Islamic world. When the city was conquered by the Christian king Ferdinand III of Castile, the mosque was converted into a Cathedral, which was partially destroyed by a powerful earthquake in 1356. In 1433, the mosque was demolished and the Cathedral was built, conserving the Giralda as the bell tower. The Cathedral was inaugurated in 1507.
Between 1558 and 1568, a new Renaissance bell tower was built and crowned by an enormous bronze weather vane, reaching its current height of 97.5 metres. The Giralda owes its name to the rotating movement of the weather vane in the wind.
Construction for this neo-Baroque and Colourist basilica began in 1941 and took 8 years, becoming the home of the Brotherhood of Nuestro Padre de Jesús de la Sentencia and of María Santísima de la Esperanza Macarena. The Basilica Museum was inaugurated in 2009, a place where visitors can find out about the Holy Week in Seville thanks to the processional and liturgical elements gathered by the brotherhood.
Also called Basílica Menor de María Santísima de la Esperanza Macarena Coronada, it is located on Calle Bécquer, in the heart of the Macarena district.
Santa Cruz is, without a doubt, one of the most popular neighbourhoods in Seville given its typical, narrow streets, manor houses and courtyards overflowing with flowers, babbling fountains, the scent of orange blossom and the uncountable legends that surround it.
The neighbourhood was originally the Jewish quarter, where the largest Jewish community settled after King Ferdinand III conquered the city. Following the Jews’ expulsion in 1483, the neighbourhood went into decline and it was not until the 19th century that it was regenerated, becoming Santa Cruz, as we know it today.
The neighbourhood consists of narrow streets and passageways, which were designed to create cool breezes to make hot summers more bearable. Each of the narrow streets lead to plazas, such as the famous Plaza de los Venerables, whose name is taken from the former hospital that stands in the plaza and was dedicated to treating venerable priests. Another important plaza in the neighbourhood is the one that gives the neighbourhood its name: Plaza de Santa Cruz, which means ‘holy cross’ in Spanish, as a 17th-century cross stands in its centre. They are not the only plazas in this neighbourhood: there are many more and each one is charming in its own special way, including Plaza de las Cruces, Plaza de Doña Elvira, Plaza de los Refinadores, and Plaza de la Alianza.
Take a stroll through the neighbourhood, get lost in its winding streets and enjoy every plaza, shadow and scent.