Andalusia is the beating heart of Flamenco with Seville said to offer up some of the best shows in the region. With its origins in India and the Levant, the dance is now a Spanish institution. So, catching an impassioned performance and a captivating night of theatrical entertainment in one of the city’s many venues is an absolute must when you visit Seville. Tablaos are flamenco’s most prominent venues and offer highly choreographed spectaculars of music and dance, often alongside food and drink. Arguably, the best shows are in the smaller, more intimate venues and if this is what you are after then check out Casa de la Memoria de Al-Andalus and Museo del Baile Flamenco. But, for the most authentic experience head to Triana, the former center of Andalusia’s Roma population and now a hotbed of spectacular Flamenco joints. This truly is one of the top things to do in Seville.
Fans of Game of Thrones are sure to be familiar with the Real Alcázar with it serving as the setting for the seat of House Martell in the fictional city of Sunspear. But, this stunning palace-complex that marries Mudéjar and Christian architecture was once the real-time home to many of Seville’s rulers. One of three of the city’s World Heritage Sites, the Real Alcázar is one of the best places to visit in Seville. This breathtaking complex is composed of beautifully charming courtyards, gardens and patios that come complete with fountains, statues and ponds. Walk through the palaces and get lost in the ornate tiling and arched rooms and the splendor of the Mudéjar plasterwork and artesunate. The main patio of the Maiden’s Courtyard with its sunken gardens, reflective pools and the intricate lace carving on the arches that ring the space are some of the best things to see in Seville.
Although you should never be left wondering what to do in Seville, if you are, then make for the Puente Isabel II and cross to the west bank of the Guadalquivir River. You are now in Triana. Once labeled “extramuros” (outside of the walls) this Sevillian neighborhood was the center of Andalusia’s “undesirable” Roma population. Now though, Triana is a woozy concoction of color, heart and soul that slowly seduces, it character born entirely from its past. While it may not boast the splendor of some of Seville’s major attractions, Triana is all about atmosphere. For a different kind of Seville sightseeing, head to the Mercado de Triana, a local market bustling with life where fresh produce, ceramics and fish are sold. Or, walk along the river down the Calle Betis, a street bursting with bars, cafes and restaurants where you’ll undoubtedly catch a rough, if not fiery flamenco performance.
With the discovery of the Americas, Seville enjoyed massive economic growth and prosperity and blossomed into a cultural center. Its harbor (the only river port in Spain), located 80 kilometers from the Atlantic ocean, was well protected and accorded a royal monopoly for trade with the New World. However, when the trade monopoly was broken and shared with Cadiz, so began Seville’s slow decline.
Now though, Seville is one of the cycling capitals of southern Europe and boasts an impressive network of trams to ferry you through the city’s lively streets. The Cathedral and Real Alcazár, which fans of Game of Thrones are sure to recognize, are the must-see Seville tourist attractions. The latter of which is a dazzling example of Mudéjar architecture, a splendor of ornate wall carvings, tiles and beautiful patios.
For a midweek excursion, dive into Seville’s past and make your way to the Thursday street market Mercadillo El Jueves, which has been running since the 13th century. Shuffle past stalls trading in everything from fruit and veg to dodgy antiques. Then, head across the river to the vibrant, colorful old quarters of Triana with its distinct character. Here you can walk along the Calle Betis and grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and later sample some of Seville’s flamenco flair. All that, and you’ve still only scratched the surface of things to do in Seville.
For those visiting in Spring, join in as the city comes alive to celebrate Semana Santa and Feria de Abril, two of Seville’s great festivals.