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The Best Sights of Seville
Seville is the biggest city in Andalusia and is one of the cities with more history, more art and culture. When America was discovered, Seville was the gateway to the Americas, since it was the only city to be allowed trade with America. Later on this privilege was given to Cadiz. Seville is enchanting to visitors because the center of the city has been preserved to human scale, with no high rise buildings. This is a list of great things to see.
1. Seville Cathedral
The building of the Cathedral of Seville was started in 1401 after the destruction of the Moorish mezquita that was in that location. The legend is that it would be so large that when people saw it, they would think that the builders were madmen. The Church of Santa Maria de la Sede was inaugurated in 1507 and is the biggest Gothic church in Europe. It is also the 3rd largest church, after Saint Peter’s in Rome and Saint Paul’s in London. Because the ceiling is so high, the cathedral is the largest volume church in the world. The church also has renaissance and mannerist designs. The dimensions of the church are 116m long, 76m wide, and 56m high at the crossing. The final cathedral was finished 3 centuries after the inauguration. When one enters the church, one has the sense of being very small in such a large church.
The retable of the high altar is huge, the largest in the world. It has an area of 264 square meters. The style is flaming Gothic, and it was designed by P. Duncart, A. Fernandez, and de Covarrubias. There are seven naves in all.
The best materials and furnishings were used in building the church. This included Flemish altar screens, 75 stained glass windows, sculptured portals, wrought iron grills, marble floors, and bronze candelabra.
The Sacristia Mayor has the treasures of the Cathedral. Some of the paintings here are by Murillo. There is also the Key of Seville, from 1248. The Capilla Real is a Renaissance structure with a high dome. It has the 13th century Virgen de los Reyes, the patron saint of Seville. It also contains the tombs of King Fernando III, the Saint (who liberated Seville from the Moors), and King Alfonso X, the Wise, and his wife Beatriz de Suabia.
At one corner in the front of the church, in the transept, is the tomb of Christopher Columbus, held aloft by 4 big statues of soldiers. Recent DNA analysis by scientists show that the remains in this tomb belong to Christopher Columbus, as they were compared to the bones of his son Fernando Colon, whose remains are in in a tomb at the west end of the nave. Hernando Columbus, son of the great navigator, bequeathed his collection of thousands of illustrated manuscripts and codices to the Cathedral. These documents form the bulk of the Columbus Library housed within the Cathedral. The library was founded in the 13th century, but the majority of its manuscripts and documents are about the discovery of America.
The cathedral has the Unesco World Heritage designation. Also it has 500 priceless works of art, such as paintings by Murillo (the Immaculate Conception and Saint Anthony), Zurbarán and Francisco de Goya.
The cloister has the beautiful Patio de los Naranjos. The garden is of Moorish origin and was built on top of the old mosque. There is an octogonal Visigothic fountain in the center that was used by the Moors for religious ablutions.
2. Giralda Tower
Beside the church is the Giralda, the bell tower that is the symbol of Seville. It used to be the minaret of the old mosque and was designed by Abou Yakoub and built in 1184. The Christians topped the minaret with a five-story bell tower in 1568. On top of the bell tower is a weathervane in the form of a statue of Faith, called the giraldilla (something that turns), since it turns with the wind, and this is 4 meters high. The statue has a standard and a palm frond in his hands. That is how the tower got the name of La Giralda. The platform is 70 meter high and is reached by a ramp that two horsemen could pass abreast. One can go up the tower and get a bird's eye view of the city. The total height of La Giralda is 93m. The tower has 24 bells.
3. Real Alcazar of Seville
The Real Alcazar of Seville is the oldest European royal residence and is not one building, but a group of buildings from different time periods and each building has a different architectural style.
In the 9th century, the Moors built a military fort on top of a Visigothic basilica, and this was during the reign of the Emir Abdul Rahman II. Later Caliph Abdul Rahman II expanded it to make it a residence for the governor. In the 11th century, King Al-Mutamid of the Abbadid dynasty expanded the palace enormously.
The Christians then reconquered Seville and Don Pedro (Peter the Cruel) renovated the palace to his tastes in 1364. The Puerta del Leon (Lion Gate) became the main entrance to the palace. There is a heraldic lion on top of the gate, in a tiled panel. This gate leads to the Patio del Leon (Courtyard of the Lion).
The Alcazar is one of the most beautiful palaces in Spain. Actually it has a Mudejar Palace and a Gothic Palace by its side. The Mudejar Palace has the most beautiful patio, the Patio del Yeso with its reflecting pool and sunken gardens. It is surrounded by columns supporting Moorish arches. The pillars support a very decorative mesh of stucco. The tile work in the palace has some of the most beautiful tiles in Andalusia and the stucco work on the walls is impressive. The Mudejar ceilings also call attention for their beauty and color. There is a three tier gallery that is on the southern side.
There is an impressive hall called the Chamber of Justice. The ceiling is made of wood and is very elaborate. There is elaborate stucco work on the walls and the ceiling of the hall. On the floor is a small round fountain with a shallow channel that goes to the garden outside.
The Palace of Rey Don Pedro is one of the most important Mudejar style buildings in Spain and contains the second floor apartments of the King, which can now be seen. One has to pay an entrance fee of 4 euros to see the apartments. The visits last 20 minutes and are timed, and only 15 people are allowed at any one time, accompanied by a guard. Everyone is given a recorder in Spanish or English, which explains each room as one walks through it. The apartments are very luxurious and have beautiful furniture, chandeliers, and many Mudejar ceilings with gold decorations. The apartments are closed to tourists when the King is in Seville. This palace also contains the Salon de Embajadores, the Patio de las Muñecas, the Patio de las Doncellas, and many other rooms.
The Gothic Palace is also beautiful with its tile work, of a different style than the Moorish tiles in the Mudejar Palace. It was built by King Alfonso X in the 13th century and underwent many alterations after that in the 16th and 18th centuries. There are also impressive tapestries hung on the walls of this palace. From the porch of this palace one can go to the gardens. The Vaulted Room (Sala de las Bovedas) contains tilework from 1577 and were designed by Cristobal de Augusta. They are made of polychromed glazed tile and are in the form of tapestries. The colors are very beautiful.
The Jardin del Estanque is a tank full of water with a fountain with the figure of Mercury. On one side is a pavilion and a building that goes to the Gothic Palace. This has a raised viewing gallery with round arches on marble columns. There is one garden after another. Among the gardens are the Jardin de la Danza, Jardin de Troya, Jardin de la Galera, Jardin de las Flores, Jardin del Principe, Jardin de las Damas, Jardin del Laberinto Viejo, and the Jardin de la Alcoba. All are beautiful, with many fountains. The gardens have many lemon and orange trees and are also planted with jasmine, so the gardens are perfumed, which is a wonderful sensation when one walks in the gardens. There is a very large area that contains the New Gardens, built in the 19th century in the English style. The gardens include the Jardin del Retiro and the Jardin de los Poetas. All the gardens should be viewed with plenty of time to be able to appreciate all their details.
4. Plaza de España
The Plaza de España is a beautiful Mudejar plaza with a section for every province of Spain and includes a very large palace behind the open plaza. It was designed by Aníbal González and constructed for the Latin American Expo (Exposición Ibero-Americana) of 1929. This is one of the most beautiful squares in Spain. The plaza has a semicircular form and is very large. The building has towers that are supposed to remind one of La Giralda. The facade of the building is Baroque and the rest of the building has the Renaissance style. There is a canal over which Venetian style bridges cross, with beautiful balustrades of ceramics. The canal follows the curve of the building.
Beside the palace there is a bench for every province, with beautiful ceramic tile that represents each province and its history.
5. Maria Luisa Park
The Maria Luisa Park is the largest park in Seville and one of the most beautiful in Europe. It has a very interesting history. Maria Luisa Fernanda was the younger sister of Queen Isabella II during the 19th century. She lived between 1832 and 1897. She was the youngest daughter of King Ferdinand VII of Spain.
Isabella II married Fernando I, her first cousin, who was supposedly gay. King Louis Phillipe of France had a plan to get the Spanish throne for his grandchildren. He married his youngest son Antoine (1824-1890), the Duke of Montpensier, to Maria Luisa Fernanda. He thought that Isabella II would have no children, so the Spanish throne would pass to her younger sister Maria Luisa Fernanda. He was wrong and Isabella II did have children (many think by a man other than her husband), so Maria Luisa Fernanda did not inherit the Spanish throne.
Maria Luisa Fernanda and Antoine had nine children. Later she and her husband, the Duke of Montpensier moved to Seville and lived in the Palace of San Telmo in the year 1848, after the French Revolution of 1848. The Duke would plot against Isabella II, his sister- in-law. When Isabella II was exiled in 1868, Maria Luisa Fernanda and her family had to follow her in exile. After her husband died in 1890, Maria Luisa Fernanda returned to Seville. Her daughter Mercedes married Alfonso XII, the son of Isabel II and became queen consort.
It was in the gardens of the Palace of San Telmo that King Alfonso XII declared his love for Maria de las Mercedes and had their love affair.
In 1893 Maria Luisa Fernanda left half of her gardens of her Palace of San Telmo to the city of Seville. After Maria Luisa Fernanda died in 1897, she was buried at El Escorial. However, the city of Seville did not take the gardens under their management until the Iberoamerican Exhibition of 1929.
Before the 1929 Iberoamerican Exposition, the city of Seville hired the famous French landscape architect Nicolas Forestier to redesign the gardens, now named after Maria Luisa Fernanda. Forestier was the landscape architect who designed the Bois de Boulogne in Paris.
The Plaza de España is one of the park’s most popular attractions and was the centerpiece of the expo. The architect was Anibal Gonzalez, from Seville, and it is a mixture of Art Deco and Mudejar. There is a moat that has four bridges across it. The palace has two large towers and there are sections with benches with beautiful tile work (azulejos) that represent each of the provinces of Spain. In the center of the plaza is a very large and beautiful fountain. The Spanish like to be photographed at the benches of their provinces.
At another end of the park is the Plaza de America, which is also called the Plaza de las Palomas (Plaza of the Doves) because of the many doves that live there. It has many fountains, ponds, and gardens. There is a beautiful Mudejar building called the Pabellon Mudejar, which contains the Museum of Popular Arts and Customs. Across from it is a neo-Renaissance building, which now contains the Archaeological Museum, famous for its Roman statues and remains from Italica, the museum being one of the best in the country. The museum also has the Phoenician statue of Astarte-Tanit, the virgin goddess. The plaza’s gardens have palm trees and roses.
For the expo, there was a building constructed for every country in the Americas. Many of these buildings are now museums or consulates. One of the most famous is the building of Guatemala, beside the Avenida de las Palmeras.
The park has a plaza dedicated to the poet Gustovo Adolfo Becquer. There is a statue of him done by the sculptor Coullaut Valera. The poet wrote about themes of love. The park has many orange trees, palm trees, elms, and Mediterranean pine trees. There are also many ponds and the people of Seville enjoy this park everyday. They like to browse here with their families or go jogging for exercise.
6. Museo de Bellas Artes (Seville)
The Museo de Bellas Artes was founded in 1839 in the old Convento de la Merced Calzada, which was originally built in 1602. The building is an example of Andalusian mannerist architecture of the 17th century. At that time the government confiscated all the art in the convents and monasteries of Spain, and the art from Seville was placed in this museum. This museum is one of the most important in Spain.
The art in this museum dates from the medieval times to the modern times, with an emphasis on the Seville school. This includes artists such as Francisco de Zurbaran, Juan de Valdes Leal, and Bartolome Esteban Murillo.
The former church of the convent is a very large structure with the most beautiful architecture. The ceiling and the cupola are amazingly beautiful.
The Sevilla School painted mostly huge altarpieces, that could be seen from far away. There are about 15 large paintings by Murillo, the most beautiful he painted in his lifetime. Other painters found here are Francisco Pacheco, Velazquez, and Cano. You can also find El Grecos and Goyas in the museum.
7. The Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum is just across the Popular Arts Museum. The building was also designed for the 1929 exhibition and the façade is a mixture of baroque and neoclassic architecture.
Its collection goes from prehistory to the 15th century. This museum has the most extensive collection of Roman works of art, collected from all of the province. There is a huge collection of Roman marble statues and many beautiful floor mosaics. The collection is one of the biggest in Spain. The museum showed marble statues of the emperors Augustus and Hadrian. They had life masks when the emperors died. The emperors were not handsome, yet when the marble statues were made, they appeared handsome, like gods. So this was their propaganda at that time. There is an important marble sculpture of Venus Italica, which dates from the time of the Emperor Hadrian (117-138 A.D.). This was found in the theater of Italica, and the statue represents Anadiomene, the goddess from the sea.
Also of interest in the museum are recreations of Roman tombs. They were like big cabinets with open shelves. On top were life masks of plaster done when the people died. Below on the shelves were ceramic urns where the ashes of the dead were placed.
The basement has the Treasure of El Carambolo, discovered in 1958 in Seville. This consists of sixteen belts and helmets, two breast plates, two wide bracelets, and two pendants, all done in gold. They date from the 7th and 8th centuries. It is thought that they could come from the Tartessian culture, although this is still in debate.
8. The Casa de Pilatos
In 1492 the governor of the King, Pedro Enriquez and his wife Catalina de Ribera started the construction of their palace in Seville. It was finished by their son Fabrique, the first Marques de Tarifa. Fabrique went as a pilgrim to Jerusalem between 1519 and 1521 and found out that his palace in Seville had the same distance from the Church Cruz del Campo as the distance between the house of Pilate from Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified. He decided to construct fourteen stations of the cross, with the first one in front of his palace. He passed by Genoa on his way back to Seville and was impressed by the architecture and decoration of the palaces there. So he ordered a marble entrance in Genoa for the entrance to his palace in Seville. The palace combines the Gothic, Mudejar, and Plateresque styles. Today the owner of the palace is the Duchess of Medinaceli. The Dukes of Medinaceli were some of the most important and prominent members of the nobility, with huge lands in Andalusia.
Part of the palace is a museum and is open to the public. There is a separate wing where the present Duchess lives, with her descendants and family. The palace has many gardens, patios, fountains, and salons. The patios contain many Roman statues. Everywhere on the first floor one will find Roman mosaic floors. The walls are covered with beautiful ceramic tile in many different Mudejar styles.
The principal patio has an arcade of two floors, and the style mixes Arab, Renaissance, and classic elements. There are marble columns that support the arcades and the second floor balustrade has a filigree design. The first floor has beautiful ceramic tiles that go up to a height of 4 meters. The center of the patio has a marble fountain that also came from Genoa, and it incorporates a column with dolphin designs. On top of the fountain there is a head of Janus that shows his two faces. Each of the four corners of the patio has a Roman statue of a goddess in marble. There are wall niches which have sculptures of the Roman emperors, Cicero, and the Emperor Carlos V.
There is a very impressive staircase leading to the second floor. The ceiling is very high and is Mudejar. All the walls are covered with ceramic tile. There are many rooms on the second floor where the family used to live. The rooms have many important paintings, portraits done by Goya, Carreño, Pantoja de la Cruz, Sebastian del Piombo, Lucas Jordan, Pacheco, and Batalloli. There is a lot of historic furniture also. Every time one looks out the windows, one can see a patio downstairs, so this palace has more light than most.
9. Palace of the Countess of Lebrija
The Palace of the Countess of Lebrija sits on a very narrow street in the historic center. It was built in the 15th century and rebuilt in the 16th century. The Countess of Lebrija was Doña Regla Manjon Mergelina, a very educated woman who had a great interest in archaeology. In 1900 the Countess decided to rebuild the palace. The city of Italica near Seville had just been discovered and the Countess bought many of the floor mosaics to preserve them and put them in her huge palace. These mosaics are some of the best to be seen in Spain. There are 580 square meters of Roman mosaics on the floor. One of the best mosaics is the mosaic of the god Pan, the best mosaic found in Italica. This is the biggest private collection in the world. The first floor also has many Roman statues. The walls are covered with beautiful tiles that were saved from other palaces and convents.
There is a very impressive staircase going to the 2nd floor, and the ceiling is an elaborate Mudejar ceiling. The house is built around the beautiful central patio. On the second floor one can find the living quarters of the nobles who lived there. There is a library with 4000 volumes and there are some very good paintings by famous painters, including Sorolla and Van Dyck.
10. The Church of El Salvador
The Church of El Salvador has recently been renovated and is one of the most beautiful churches in Seville. It is a Baroque church built in the 17th century and has several chapels done in gold. It has many religious sculptures by famous sculptors of the past. This is one of the finest Baroque churches in Andalusia.
The church was built on top of the Mezquita of Adabbas after the Mezquita was demolished in 1671. The church construction took place between 1674 and 1679. When the church was almost finished, the church fell down on Oct. 24, 1679, leaving only the exterior walls standing. A lot of analysis was done to try to figure out why the church fell down. One of the theories was that the base on top of the old Mezquita was not solid enough. Rebuilding was restarted, with care to make the church stronger. This was finished in 1712. The architect was Leonardo de Figueroa.
The form of the church is the Latin cross, with three naves. the vaults are of the barrel and cross types. There is a big cupola on the ceiling. The main retable and that of the Sacramental Chapel were done by Cayetano de Acosta. Among famous sculptures are the Jesus of the Passion, by Martinez Montañes, and the Christ of Love, by Juan de Mena. The minaret of the old mosque is part of the church. The statue of the Virgen de las Aguas is one of the oldest in Seville. There are many important paintings in the church also.
11. The Hotel Alfonso XIII
The Hotel Alfonso XIII is the best luxury hotel in Seville, in the heart of the city, and is a very historic hotel. It was designed to be the most luxurious hotel in Europe when it was conceived. The architect was Jose Espiau and the hotel was designed in the Neo-Mudejar style. This style was inspired by Arab architecture and with decorative elements in the ornate plateresque style. There is a yellow brick facade, a big central patio that is adorned with tiled arcades and a fountain, all covered with a glass canopy. There are square towers and Renaissance style windows. The gardens have orange and palm trees.
The inside of the hotel is sumptuously decorated with rich coffered ceilings, elegant lamps, beveled mirrors, and marble floors and stairs. There are beautifully decorated ceramic tiles on the walls from Triana, some with designs of angels. The colors of the tile are rich and traditional.
The hotel was inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia on April 28, 1928. They were celebrating the wedding of their daughter Isabel to Count Juan Zamoyski. The hotel has housed royal families, heads of state, and important people from all over the world. The high society of Seville always go to this hotel. The hotel was renovated by Rafael Manzano Monis for the Seville Expo of 1992.
12. The Barrio Santa Cruz
The Barrio Santa Cruz is beside the Alcazar and is bounded by the Alcazar, the Jardines de Murillo, Santa Maria La Blanca, and Calle Mateas Gago. The barrio used to be the old Jewish quarter. The streets are narrow and form a labyrinth, where it is easy to get lost. This is part of its charm, because when one is lost, one may discover a convent or a palace or a hotel. The air in the barrio is perfumed by jasmine flowers and the orange trees that one finds here. Many of the palaces have wrought iron gates that allow one to peep into their beautiful patios. There are many small stores and some artisan shops, as well as good art galleries, which make this area very interesting.
One of the important palaces is the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes (Hospital of the Venerable Priests). This is a Baroque palace that was finished in 1695 by the architect Leonardo Figueroa and is decorated with paintings by Valdes Leal and his son Lucas Valdes. There is a very beautiful patio, with plants arranged geometrically and with a fountain in the middle. The owner of the palace is the Focus-Abengoa Foundation and the palace is many times used for art exhibitions.
The Murillo Gardens were donated to the city by the Alcazar in 1911, which had used the land for its vegetable gardens before that. Juan Talavera designed the gardens. He also codesigned with Collaut Valera the monument to Columbus, which has two columns and an image of the ship Santa Maria, and an image of a lion in its cornice.
Another important building is the House of Murillo, where the painter lived his last years and died. His remains are buried in one part of the Plaza Santa Cruz. There is also the Plaza de Doña Elvira, which used to have the open air Theater of Comedies, where the Sevillian dramatist Lope de Rueda worked in the 16th century. Both squares are lined with orange trees. This barrio is very picturesque and is one of the favorite gathering places of the Sevillanos. The narrow streets of this charming barrio in the center has many restaurants, tapas bars, and flamenco. It is fun to get lost in the barrio and discover old historic palaces and peep into their beautiful patios.
13. Tabacalera Building
This beautiful building has the fame of the opera Carmen, written by Georges Bizet, and is now used by the university for many of its colleges. The building is huge and was one of the biggest factories of the past. The building measures 250 x 180 meters and has two stories. There are four wings and has several interior patios. It was constructed between 1728 and 1771, and the architect was Sebastian van der Borcht. One part had a prison and it had its own military guards to avoid disturbances. In the opera, Carmen fell in love with one of the military guards.
14. Basilica of La Macarena
The Basilica of La Macarena is a modern church built between 1941 and 1946 by the architect Aurelio Gomez Millan, who built it in a Neo-Baroque style. It has been a basilica since 1966. It is famous for housing the Virgin of Hope, Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza, who is also called La Macarena. The statue is attributed to the famous sculptress Luisa Roldan, known as La Roldana, and was probably made in the 18th century. The statue is found in the main altar and is surrounded by silver and gold decoration. The statue is also the most revered image in Seville and she is the patron saint of the matadors and a favorite of the Gypsies. The matador Joselito bought four emeralds for her. On Good Friday the statue is taken out of the church for the procession and is brought to the Cathedral. Thousands of people shout to her "Guapa", which means beautiful. The brotherhood that takes care of the statue was founded in 1595.
The basilica also contains the statue of the Virgen Rosario from the 18th century and sculpted by Pedro Duque Cornejo, as well as the statue of the Cristo de la Sentencia, sculpted in 1654 by Felipe Morales Nieto. Just outside the church is the Arch of Macarena, which was a door from the Almoravid dynasty.
15. Hospital de la Caridad
The Hospital de la Caridad was built by Don Miguel Mañara, who was a Seville aristocrat of Italian descent. In his early life, he devoted himself to the pleasures of the typical aristocrat. However his wife died in 1661 when Mañara was 34 years old. This caused him to reflect on his life and he decided to devote the rest of his life to doing good. He was the driving force to complete the church in 1670 and build the adjacent hospital to help the poor.
The architect of the church was Pedro Sanchez Falconete and the designer of the main altarpiece was Bernardo Simon de Pineda, while the sculpture of The Funeral of Christ was done by Pedro Roldan. The Baroque church is full of paintings by Bartolome Esteban Murillo and Juan de Valdes Leal and the church is one of the most beautiful Baroque churches in Spain. There is a large cupola over the main altar and there are large windows that let in a lot of light into the church. The vault of the church is filled with paintings by Juan de Valdes Leal. Some of the Murillos are copies of the originals, because the originals were stolen by the French general and marshal Jean-de-Dieu Soult when this general invaded Seville in 1810. This French general is famous for looting the artwork of Andalusia.
The entrance has a courtyard that consists of a double patio that is divided by a high passage on top of columns. Each patio has a marble fountain and there is one sculpture on top representing Mercy, and another representing Charity. There are blue and white ceramic tiles on the walls that depict scenes. These tiles were made in Holland in the 17th century and represent biblical scenes.
Mañara decided to leave his mansion in Seville and lived in a spartan room in the hospital. He devoted his fortune to taking care of the poor. Today the hospital is a home for the aged. There is a monument to him on the grounds, with a statue depicting him, done by the Sevillian sculptor Antonio Susillo. His remains are found in a crypt of the church. His message was that the Christian can achieve eternal salvation only through charity.
16. Hospital de los Venerables
The Hospital de los Venerables has a beautiful patio with a fountain and many plants arranged very symetrically and is located in a beautiful Baroque palace that was built in 1695 by Leonardo Figueroa. The hospital was founded by Justino de Neve. It has paintings by Valdez Leal and his son Lucas Leal. There is a church with a single nave and barrel vaulting. It has paintings by Valdez Leal and his son Lucas Leal. There are reliefs by Martinez Montañes and sculptures by Pedro Roldan. The building is owned by the Focus-Abengoa Foundation and is used for cultural exhibitions and concerts that are held in the old chapel.
17. Basilica of Jesus of the Great Power
The Basilica is a small church in the San Lorenzo Square, built in 1965, and it was inspired by the Roman Pantheon of Agrippa. It contains the statue of Jesus of the Great Power, who is venerated in Seville and is one of the city’s favorites. The statue shows Christ carrying the cross. The sculpture was created by Juan de Mesa in 1620 and during Holy Week, one of the brotherhoods (Hermandad del Gran Poder) uses the statue during the processions. This brotherhood was founded in 1431 by the Duque de Medina Sidonia. The church was designated as a basilica by the late Pope John Paul II in 1992. The doorway of the church is in a Neo-Baroque style and there is a coat of arms carved from stone above the doorway. The statue of Christ is called "El Señor de Sevilla". The church has another statue also made by Juan de Mesa, and this is the statue of San Juan Evangelista.
18. The Popular Arts Museum
In Maria Luisa Park is the Popular Arts Museum (Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares de Sevilla). The building was built for the 1929 exhibition and is one of the most beautiful Mudejar buildings in Seville. In front of it is a beautiful pond surrounded with railings, amid a beautiful garden. The collection has lace, ceramics, clothing, work tools, metal work, and musical instruments, and many other items.
Inside the museum there are collections of costumes used in the past by both men and women, starting from the 18th century. Of interest are the pants of the men. At that time they had no zippers. At the top of the pants, on both sides, are slits that buttoned up.
The museum has rooms completely furnished of the 19th century. One can see how people lived at that time. Much of the furniture design has not changed and one can find the same furniture in current Andalusian homes.
19. The Archivo General de Indias
The Archivo General de Indias is located by the Cathedral and it is the place where all the records of the New World empire of Spain were kept. It is also called Casa Lonja. Lonja means a place where merchants meet. Until the 16th century, the merchants in Seville met daily at the Patio de los Naranjos beside the Cathedral. When the weather was bad, they met in the Cathedral. This was not to the liking of the bishop because the merchants were loud and noisy, and the bishop did not think this was appropriate for the house of God. He threatened to excommunicate the merchants. So King Felipe II decided to order the construction of a building for the merchants beside the Cathedral. This was done between 1585 and 1598. The building has two floors with a square plan and a very large patio in the middle. Juan de Herrera was the architect and he designed it as a serene Renaissance palace without too much exterior decoration.
When the merchant exchange lost importance in the 18th century, King Carlos III converted the building to the Archivo General de Indias in 1785, which kept all the historic documents of the colonial empire of Spain in the Americas and the Philippines. The Spanish turned out to be very meticulous record keepers, so there are millions of documents in this archive. It includes bills of lading for all the ships. There are journals of Columbus and the conquistadores, and the maps they made. This is the place where many researchers go to look for records they are interested in. It is literally a document gold mine. The archive contains 80 million pages! The building and its contents were given the title of World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1987. The building hosts many exhibitions related to history and displays the original documents and maps they have, so the exhibitions are usually very interesting.
20. Torre del Oro (Gold Tower)
The Torre del Oro (Gold Tower) is a military watchtower located by the Guadalquivir River and was constructed by the Moors during the Almohad dynasty, in the 13th century. Its purpose was to control access to the city from the river. There was a chain that was connected to another tower (no longer in existence) across the river and the chain could be pulled so that no enemy ships could pass through. During its time, the tower's dome was covered with tiles that were enameled in gold, so that is how the tower got its name. Another story is that when the New World sent its gold to Seville, the ships unloaded it next to this tower and may have stored it in the tower.
The tower is made of stone and is dodecagonal (has twelve sides) with a central staircase that is hexagonal. The walls have slits and windows to let in light. The crenellations on top of the tower are shaped like pyramids. There is a smaller tower made of brick on top of the bigger tower, and it also has twelve sides. This is topped with a lantern from 1760, constructed by Sebastian Vander Borcht. Today it is a Naval Museum.
21. The Ayuntamiento (City Hall)
The Ayuntamiento building is one of the beautiful buildings in Seville and it is located between Plaza Nueva and Plaza San Francisco. The architect of this building was Diego de Riaño and it was constructed between 1527 and 1564. It is a Renaissance building and the eastern facade is Plateresque, a style that appeared only in Spain, and this can be viewed from the Plaza San Francisco. There is plenty of decoration, including medallions, historic figures, and floral ornaments. The figures are of Hercules and Caesar, the legendary founders of the city. There is another facade that faces the Plaza Nueva, and this has a Neoclassic design, which is more sober, because it was done during a renovation during the 19th century, with the architects Demetrio de los Ríos and Balbino Marrón. The building contains the city archives, which has the history of Seville since the time of the Catholic Kings. Worth visiting are the Apeadero, the Sala Capitular, Sala de los Fieles Ejecutores, the Salón Colon, and the staircase.
22. Plaza del Cabildo
Close to the Cathedral is the Plaza del Cabildo, a little plaza that is part of a beautiful building. One can get to it by looking between Calle Arfe and Calle Almirantazgo. The architect of the building was Joaquin Barquin Barron. The building has a curve and there is an arcade that is decorated with frescos. The columns are made of marble. There are three floors above the arcade. In the middle of the plaza is a circular fountain. There are stores around the plaza that specialize in selling stamps and antiques. On Sundays there is a market for the stamps and the other collections.
Santiponce is a small town across the river and 7 km away from Seville. It contains the ruins of the Roman town of Italica. During the Punic Wars, the Roman general Publio Cornelio Escipion established the Roman colony of Italica, in 206 B.C. This was going to be the home of the Roman soldiers who had been wounded in the war. The colony became quite large and important. The Roman Emperor Trajan was born in this city, and his successor, the Emperor Hadrian spent his youth here. The Romans built an amphitheater that could sit 25,000 people. This amphitheater is in a sad state today and much of it has eroded badly. Much stone has been removed and used for building material for the city of Seville. What remains today are some mosaic floors that are still beautiful. One is the Mosaic of Neptune and the other is the Mosaic of the Birds. The most important sculptures and other floor mosaics have been taken to the Archeological Museum in Seville for safe keeping. The city declined with the arrival of the Visigoths, who preferred to live in Seville. When the Moors came, the river changed course and the Moors completely abandoned the place.
Also in Santiponce is the Monastery of San Isidoro del Campo. This is a huge monastery that was heavily fortified and built in 1301 by Alonso Perez de Guzman and Maria Alonso Coronel. Tradition said that this was the place where San Isidoro had been buried. His remains were transferred to Leon in 1063. The huge monastery was built in the gothic style, but has the Mudejar influence. The wall and ceiling paintings are beautiful and impressive, but the monastery needs much more restoration.
Carmona is a white town of 17,000 people that is about 29 kilometers northeast of Seville. The town can be seen in a day trip from Seville. Mass tourism has not reached this quiet town yet. The whole town is located on a high bluff which overlooks the plains below. The town is a beautiful white town that is very clean. About 50 movies have been filmed in the town because it looks so authentically Andalusian. Fernando III conquered the town from the Moors in 1247, and he was impressed by the beauty of the town. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Carmona was filled with many convents and palaces.
The Church of San Pedro has a very tall bell tower that resembles the Giralda Tower in Seville.
This was built in the 15th century and completed in the 18th century, with its Baroque tower. The tower has a height of 56 meters. There are three naves in the church and the church has several impressive altarpieces faced with gold leaf.
There is a large gate which is located at the Alcazar de la Puerta de Sevilla, one of the town’s main attractions. The walls were built in the 3rd century B.C. by the Carthaginians, and the Romans and Moors kept adding to the walls. The gate is 3 meters wide. The narrow streets are paved with cobblestones in this old area of the town.
The Church of Santa Maria de la Asuncion is a church that was built in 1424 in the Gothic style and it has a beautiful statue of the Virgen de Gracia (dated to 1300 A.D.), which is very well lighted. The church has three naves. The principal altarpiece has a Plateresque style and it was the work of Nufro de Ortega and Juan Bautista Vazquez, built in the middle of the 16th century. The reliefs show scenes from the life of Christ, the coronation of the Virgin Mary, and the crucifixion. There is a lateral chapel dedicated to San Jose, and there is an altarpiece dedicated to this saint made by Pedro de Campaña. The church opens to a large patio, the Patio de los Naranjos, built over an Almohade mezquita that was destroyed in 1424. There is a small museum on the second floor of the adjacent building. There is a beautiful sculpture of Christ on the cross, called the Christ of the Desamparados (the homeless), that dates from the 16th century. There is also a sword of St. Ignatius of Loyola in the museum.
Close by is the Hotel Alcazar de la Reina, built in a 17th convent. The hotel is decorated in the Mudejar style and is very beautiful, with an outdoor pool. Another neighboring hotel is the Casa de Carmona Hotel, built in a 16th century palace. It has the Andalusian style and is very beautiful too, with many patios.
The Parador was built in the Alcazar del Rey Don Pedro (Pedro I, the Cruel). This castle is on the highest point of the bluff and it has thick castle walls that enclose the palace and a large parking lot. The castle was built in the 14th century by the Moors. The Parador is one of the most impressive paradors in Spain, with a very big and beautiful patio with a fountain. Outside the bar is a balcony where one can see the plains below. Below the balcony is also a swimming pool set amid gardens.
There is also the Puerta de Cordoba, which is a gate in the city walls. During the time of Caesar, Carmona was the most heavily fortified city in the province of Betica. This gate is in the eastern part of the town and was part of the Roman fortifications. There are three octagonal towers and the Via Romana between Seville and Cordoba passed through this gate.
There is a Roman necropolis at the border of the town that has tombs from the 1st to the 4th centuries A.D. There are niches in the rocks that contain urns containing the ashes of the dead. At the entrance to the necropolis is the Tumba del Elefante, which is a tomb with an elephant figure on top that measures 57 cm in height. There is a museum that shows many of these urns and figures in bronze.
Carmona is beautiful town, very clean, and very Andalusian. It is fresh and undiluted by foreigners because few foreign visitors come here. It is really a great place to visit and a hidden gem.