20 August 2013

Travel Talk: Sevilla, Spain

The largest city in southern Spain, Sevilla holds a special place in my heart: it's the city where I spent 4 months taking the last two classes I needed for my Romance Language major and was my gateway to Europe. Size-wise, it can't compare to the larger and more popular cities of Barcelona and Madrid, but Sevilla nevertheless has its own charm and even a bit of a small-city feel. While I could write an outrageously extensive list of what to do, see, and eat in Sevilla, this post will cover the highlights:

Sights & Attractions

Cathedral and La Giralda
La Giralda

  • The largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the resting place of Christopher Columbus, the Catedral de Sevilla is a must-see. Admission is 8€, but if you're a student under 25 it's a mere 3€, a bargain considering the sheer size of the place. The architecture is absolutely stunning and it's incredible to see the amount of detail that went into the construction of the church. You can also walk to the top of the Giralda, which is the tallest tower of the cathedral and in all of Sevilla. From the top, you will have a complete view of the entire city of Sevilla and the surrounding areas. It can be exhausting to walk up there (especially in the heat) but it's worth the views.

Reales Alcázares
My roommate and I in el Patio de las Doncellas
  • Originally a Moorish fort, los Reales Alcázares is now a royal palace in the heart of Sevilla.The Moorish architecture is immediately evident in all the arches and detailed walls, especially in el Patio de las Doncellas. The gardens are also breathtaking and there's all sorts of flowers and fountains. Admission is free for all residents of Sevilla, 2€ for students 17-25, and 8,75€ for everyone else. If you're a resident, I highly recommend this place for an afternoon read...but not when it's hot out.
Plaza de España
Plaza on my way to uni classes

  • Possibly my favorite place in all of Sevilla, la Plaza de España is a large plaze quite unlike any I've seen before. The fountain is enormous and its mist offers a bit of relief from the summer heat, but my personal favorite part is the details along the walls that depict many cities across Spain. All of the architecture is intricately detailed and painted. If you're looking for a spot for relaxing, el Parque de María Luisa is immediately adjacent to the plaza, and there's plenty of grassy areas and beautiful scenery for all!
Metropol Parasol
It's like a giant mushroom...
  • If you're trying to get the sky-high views of Sevilla without the exertion that comes from walking to the top of La Giralda, I recommend el Metropol instead. Located in Plaza de la Encarnación, this mushroom-shaped wooden building known as Las Setas offers views of the city that do include the cathedral. You can walk all along the top of the building, and there's even a bar up there with drinks and tapas (warning: it is a bit pricy).

This was one of the main roads!

  • Although this really isn't located in the city but rather in the surrounding areas, if you have the time to take a day trip to Itálica, go. These are the ruins of an old Roman city and it's incredible how intact many things are. The most impressive sight is the Roman amphitheater (there's even lion scratch marks on some walls if you look closely!), but there are also some mosaics that are still mostly in great shape.

Food & Drink

  • One of our study abroad professors was kind enough to send us a list of some of the best places for tapas in Sevilla at the beginning of the semester. Eslava was one of the locations on there. While there is also a restaurant, I've never been to the restaurant, just to the tapas bar. They have many local specialties and, as such, is a favorite among locals as well. It's fairly busy, and if you're going on the weekend, I would recommend getting there before 8:30 or 9pm. The best part are the homemade desserts, but in all honesty, I never had a bad tapa here so you're probably safe with anything!
  • While studying abroad, we first came upon this bar on the recommendation of a friend's host family. Color me impressed. While I found the tapas to be a bit pricier than in other places I went to over the course of term, the food was absolutely delicious! I still have dreams about the bacalao I had here, so if you're a seafood fan, I definitely recommend it!
100 Montaditos
  • This was the first Spanish cerveceria I ever went to...but I wasn't even in Spain when I did. 100 Montaditos has small little sandwiches (montaditos) that come with all sorts of fillings: salmon, jamon iberico, even tortilla de patatas. Their biggest draw is their 1 euro deal on Wednesdays: all their montaditos are 1 euro, and you can get a mug of beer, sangria, or tinto de verano for a mere 2 euro. (If you live in the States and you have one of these near you, they have $1 Wednesdays!) These are all over Sevilla, although my personal favorite was the one located directly across from the Univeristy of Sevilla's Facultad de Historia.
Plaza Alfalfa
  • For a night out on the town with the locals, there's nothing better than Plaza Alfalfa. Located in the center of the city, Plaza Alfalfa is surrounded by smaller local bars and significantly less foreigners than most other locations. The price ranges can vary depending on where you are, but it's completely possible to pay just 4 euros for a sizeable mojito! While I can't speak for any of the discotecas here, the bars all have a really friendly atmosphere that can easily make for either a chill night out or a wild one.
Calle Betis
  • Tourist central to the extreme, Calle Betis is located along the south banks of the river between the neighborhoods of Los Remedios and Triana. There is no shortage of bars and discotecas on this street, and many foreigners choose to party the night away along this street. On our first-ever venture to Betis, my roommate and I came upon the Long Island Bar, which we absolutely loved for the rnadom assortment of people there as well as the fact that they have a different shot for each of the fifty states. We also stumbled upon a Latin disco. where there was plenty of salsa and bachata to go around.


Santa Cruz
  • Barrio Santa Cruz is what my mind pre-study abroad mind conceived as inherently Spanish. There's the small cobblestone streets, the balconies, the flowers. In the midst of all the winding streets, you'll find some small artisan and local shops. While not many sell clothing, this is a great place to find some unique or traditionally Spanish gifts and souvenirs.
  • I'm going to be totally honest: I didn't venture into Triana until about two months into my time abroad. On a weekend where I wasn't traveling, some friends and I ventured to the market on a Saturday. While we personally didn't buy much, there is so much fresh food and plenty of hademade crafts and artwork along the banks of the river. The food is more expensive than what it would be at a supermarket, but there's loads of local products that are worth buying for their sheer deliciousness.
El Centro (Calle Sierpes and Calle Tetuan)
  • This area was a danger zone for my wallet. These streets are quite narrow but it is literally just shop after shop. On Tetuan, you have all your big Spanish staples like Corte Ingles, Zara, Bershka, and Mango, but you also have smaller, local stores all along Calle Sierpes that sell all sorts of traditional Spanish clothing and artifacts. The best part is that this isn't like Barcelona or Madrid where the pick-pocketers are rampant. The streets feel incredibly safe.

Sevilla is much smaller than the more popular Spanish cities of Barcelona and Madrid, and I personally feel like there's also less attractions and tourist areas. However, there is definitely an abundance of tapas bars and restaurants so you'll always eat well. Based on pure charm, Sevilla is well-worth a visit, although I would say you don't need more than a week to hit up all the major sites.

Happy travels!

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