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Seville Hostels, Eurail Passes, and Backpacking Tips

 

Seville (Sevilla) is one of the most exciting cities in Spain, with an atmosphere both relaxed and festive, a rich history, some great monuments, beautiful parks and gardens, and a large student population. Seville is an expensive place, so it's worth planning your visit carefully. In high summer, the city is stiflingly hot. Seville is best during its spring festivals, though rooms then are expensive. Sitting on the Rio Guadalquivir, which is navigable to the Atlantic Ocean, Seville was once Spain's leading Muslim city. It reached its greatest heights later, during the 16th and 17th centuries, when it held a monopoly on Spanish trade with the Americas.

Orientation

The main tourist office (95 422 14 04) at Avenida de la Constitution 21 is open 9 am to 7 pm Monday to Friday, 10 am to 7 pm Saturday, 10 am to 2 pm Sunday. It's often extremely busy, so you might try the other tourist offices: Paseo de las Delicias 9 (95 423 44 65), open 8.30 am to 2.45 pm Monday to Friday; and Calle de Arjona 28 (95 450 56 00), open 8 am to 8.45 pm Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 2.30 pm weekends.

Things to See and Do

Cathedral & Ciralda

Seville's immense cathedral, one of the biggest in the world, was built on the site of Muslim Seville's main mosque between 1401 and 1507. The adjoining tower, La Giralda, was the mosque's minaret and dates from the 12th century; climb up for great views. One highlight of the cathedral's lavish interior is Christopher Columbus' supposed tomb inside the south door (no one's 100% sure that his remains didn't get mislaid somewhere in the Caribbean). The entrance to the cathedral and Giralda for non-group visitors at our last check was the Puerta del Perdon on Calle Alemanes. Opening hours are 11 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday (5/2 € full/student) and 2 to 7 pm Sunday (free).

Alcazar

Seville's alcazar, the residence of Muslim and Christian royalty for many centuries, was begun in AD 913 as a Muslim fortress. The highlights are the Palacio de Don Pedro, exquisitely decorated by Muslim artisans for a Castilian king, Pedro the Cruel, in the 1360s; and the large, immaculately tended gardens.

The alcazar is open 9.30 am to 7 pm Tuesday to Saturday (to 5 pm from October to March), 9.30 am to 5 pm Sunday and holidays. Entry is $8 (free for students).

Museums & Bullring

The Archivo de Indias, beside the cathedral, houses more than 40 million documents dating from 1492 through to the decolonization of the Americas. There are changing displays of fascinating maps and documents. Opening hours are 10 am to 1 pm Monday to Friday (free).

The Museo de Bellas Artes, on Plaza del Museo, has an outstanding collection of Spanish art, focusing on Seville artists like Murillo and Zurbaran ($3, free for EU citizens; closed Monday).

Seville's Plaza de Toros (Bullring), on Paseo de Cristobal Colon, is one of the oldest and most famous in Spain, dating from 1758. Interesting $3 tours are given in English and in Spanish, about every 20 minutes from 9.30 am to 2 pm and 3 to 6 or 7 pm daily (bullfight days: 10 am to 3 pm).

Walks & Parks

If you're not staying in the Barrio de Santa Cruz, the old Jewish quarter immediately east of the cathedral and alcazar, make sure you take a stroll among its quaint streets and plant/filled plazas. South of the city centre, the large Parque de Maria Luisa is a pleasant place to get lost in, with its maze of paths, tall trees, fountains and shaded lawns. Another enjoyable walk is along the riverbank.

Special Events

The first of Seville's two great festivals is Semana Santa, the week leading up to Easter Sunday. Throughout the week processions of religious brotherhoods (cofradfas), dressed in penitents' garb with tall pointed hoods (eerily reminiscent of Ku Klux Klan outfits), accompany sacred images through the city, watched by huge crowds.

The Feria de Abril, in late April, is a kind of release after this solemnity: the festivities involve six days of music, dancing and horse riding in the Los Remedios area west of the river, plus daily bullfights and a general city-wide party.

 

Cheapest Flights

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