The city of Seville lays claim to some of the most beautiful architecture in Andalusia. It’s also the best place to go for festivals such as Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Feria (fair) – although these aren’t exclusive to Seville, the Sevillians have a reputation for celebrating them best.
Cathedral & Giralda
The Cathedral in Seville, with five naves, is one of the biggest in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is mostly in a Gothic style, but with some elements added later of a Renaissance style. Before the cathedral existed this was the site of a mosque, of which only the minaret (Giralda) still remains, standing tall
beside the present-day cathedral. Climbing to the top of the Giralda gives you a bird’s-eye view of Seville.
Did you know? – Christopher Colombus’s remains lie in a tomb in Seville Cathedral, having been moved between many countries in the Spanish-speaking world. They had to be verified with DNA tests after disputes over whether his true remains were in Seville or in the Dominican Republic.
A beautiful palace which started off as a fortress and has been added to by Christian and Muslim rulers throughout its 11 centuries of history. It’s now an official residence of the Spanish Royal family.
There’s plenty to explore in the many richly-decorated rooms here, so we have produced an activity worksheet designed to guide students around in small groups and encourage them to discover more about its history and architecture. The Spanish worksheet has them using their investigative skills and creativity to find artefacts, recreate historical scenes and answer questions about the Kings and Queens who lived there. The added element of competition between groups for the best score motivates them to learn as much as they can about this amazing heritage site.
Las Setas (Metropol parasol)
In contrast to the Moorish and Gothic architecture you’ll see in Andalusia, the ‘Setas’ (mushrooms) are a modern addition to the cityscape of Seville. Designed by Jürgen Mayer and built in 2011, these giant mushroom parasols cast shade on the ground below and form the largest wooden structure in the world.
Underground is the Antiquarium archaeological museum, at street level there is a market and a plaza, and on the second and third floors there are restaurants and viewing points. However, it’s also possible just to view the sculptures from the outside, and enjoy the shade they provide.
Barrio Santa Cruz
This quaint neighbourhood is your best bet for souvenir shopping and eating out. It is also popular among tourists for its pretty squares: Plaza Doña Elvira with its ‘naranjos’ (orange trees); Plaza de los Venerables with its former hospice for priests, now an art museum; and Plaza de Santa Cruz from which the neighbourhood takes its name.
Plaza de España
This is a popular spot for taking a break in between attractions, and is located on the edge of María Luisa Park. Its shape is that of a huge semicircle containing a moat. The four bridges which cross the moat into the middle of the Plaza represent the four ancient Kingdoms of Spain, and in the centre there is a fountain.
Of particular interest to students of Spanish is the tile work which depicts maps and historical scenes for each Spanish province.
Did you know? – Seville has been used as a location for many films and television programmes – la Plaza de España has featured in Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, and 2012 film The Dictator.
Parque María Luisa
Home to the Plaza de España, this strikes a peaceful contrast with the more lively atmosphere of Seville’s city centre. Here the trees cast a welcome shade over the park, and ponds and fountains maintain a tranquil atmosphere.
There are also monuments, including one for the greatest Spanish writer of all time and author of Don Quixote, Miguel Cervantes. Students should be conscious of his writing, which has been influential in Western literature.
Isla Mágica Theme and Water Park
There is also the option to visit Seville’s very own theme park, with both wet and dry rides. The general theme throughout the park is the Age of Discovery (16th and 17th Century). The park as a whole is divided into different worlds including: Sevilla, Puerto de Indias, which aims to capture the atmosphere of 16th Century Seville; El Dorado, the mythical lost city; and Amazonia, inspired by the Amazon rainforest.
Isla Mágica promises to be a fun day out and also offers various special deals for school groups.
Journey time to Seville: 1 hour 40 by coach
Also see: If you plan to visit Spark in springtime or May, you may be able to witness one of Seville’s fantastic festivals! Seville is famous for its Holy Week celebrations and also the Feria (festival) two weeks later.