Guest Author: Will Peach
Will Peach is one of the site editors over at Gap Daemon, the gap year travel community website for backpackers and gap year travellers.
Don’t make the mistake of missing out on Seville during one of your Spain holidays. For budget travellers, Andalucia’s capital has plenty more to offer than scorching summers and tasty tapas. You won’t have to spend a single penny on enjoying these sights and sounds. You might even leave that little bit more cultured too. That’s the idea right?
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Seville’s lovely old Jewish quarter is famous the world over as being one of the quaintest, most attractive, barrios in all of Spain. For that reason alone you’re going to want to stroll down its delightful cobbled streets, twist in and out of its alleyways and wander past its thick-walled houses. Seeing this area on foot won’t cost you a dime. It’ll also provide you with some shady spots to escape the searing summer sun too!
Home to some of the cities oldest churches, make sure you stop in their courtyards and take in Seville’s elegant past as the city founded on the riches of the Americas. There’s plenty for your literary nerds too. The legend of that saucy Spaniard Don Juan is set on the streets of Santa Cruz. Check out the Plaza de los Venerables, Don Juan’s supposed birthplace, and pay homage to the man who swash buckled and seduced his way to the deflowering of a hundred delicate virgins. Just don’t get any ideas now. Remember how it all ended for the Don?
Plaza de Espana
Free all year round, the recently renovated Plaza de Espana is definitely worth whiling away a few hours. Designed for the Latin American expo in 1929, this semi-circular palace looks particularly stunning slap bang next to the park of Maria Luisa (whose gigantic ferns make it too worth a wander). Navigate the path leading across from the horse drawn carts (yes, don’t worry, you are in present day Spain) stationed next to the giant centre fountain and head to the two towers looming over the circle of shining colours. Here you can see the separate artistic designs dedicated to each of Spain’s regions, each with its own cultural motifs and decorations. Keep your eyes peeled for the painted donkeys of Badajoz. Beat the pants off the real-life horses nearby.
Go to the Plaza de Espana at night and you’ll be in for an even greater treat with the square lit up and its alcoves illuminated. Run your hands all over the tilework and amble up to the balcony for views out over the Plaza below. Watch as tourists bump into each other in rowboats on the water that runs in a ring beneath the bridge. Apparently it’s the same bridge that Princess Leia walks across in Star Wars: The Emperor Strikes Back. No Jabba the Hut though I’m afraid.
Parroquia de San Lorenzo
Seville’s Parroquia de San Lorenzo means that budget travellers needn’t break the bank to see some top rated art in this part of Spain. Step inside the church, a 14th century architectural mix of North European gothic meets Arab mudejar, sit back and take in its glory. The Parroquia, famous for its five naves, also features an altarpiece designed in 1632 by Martinez Montañés, considered the best Sevillian sculptor of the time. Not a shade on me though.
Searching for more creative inspiration? Head next door and you’ll be able to walk straight up to the feet of the most famous statue of Christ in Seville at the Basilica de Nuestro Señor Jesús del Gran Poder. Make sure you don’t miss out on the mural painting of the Virgin de Rocamador or Murillo’s painting “Charitas” either. We’d never miss a good virgin. Nor should you.
Cathedral and Giralda
Go any other time of the week to Seville’s symbolic Cathedral and Giralda and expect to pay the price for such beauty. Head on a Sunday however and you can enjoy the cities most famous landmark entirely for free.
Seville Cathedral, the third largest in the world, is a splendid blend of Christian and Arabic styles (not surprising given its foundation on the site of an old mosque), finished in the 16th century. Here you can see the tomb of the legendary Christopher Columbus, for whom Seville had to thank for its hey day as one of the worlds richest cities after the discovery of the Americas. The inside of the cathedral is no less opulent with its retablo (carved scenes from the life of Christ), the Giralda (a minaret converted into a bell tower) and the longest nave in all of Spain. Keep an eye out for the dome mind; it’s collapsed a fair few times since old Columbus’ has been laid to rest.
Museo de Bellas Artes
If you still haven’t had your fill of all the wonderful art that Seville has on offer, it’s worth checking out the Museo de Bellas Artes and having a wander around its galleries for free.
This 17th century building houses one of the finest art galleries in the whole of Europe, featuring works by Seville’s own Murillo, Velazquez and El Greco. If you do find yourself tiring looking at the work of such gods (it’s OK the rest of us are human) take a peek at the museums hedged gardens. A nice little break from the buzz of the cerveza swigging centre!
Seville guarantees a good time for the cash strapped traveller, just prepare to have your eyes bombarded by all the glitz and glamour on display.