Christmas In Seville

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1949
Plaza de Espana, Seville
Plaza de Espana, Seville
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One Evening Of Magic

Seville, nestled in the heart of Andalusia, transforms into a fairy-tale wonderland during December. Despite having only one evening to savour the “Pearl of Andalucia”, I was able to get a taste, not just for tapas and oranges, but a feel for the city’s rich history. I was also able to get into the festive spirit!

A delightful way to see the city in such a limited time is to take a horse and carriage tour. The trusted steed that would take me around the city was Lucija. This ten-year-old horse was an immaculately turned-out lady with a love of carrots.  Priced at 50 euros, (haggling optional), the 45-minute ride unveiled some of Seville’s most iconic landmarks, including:

Alcazar

The tour commenced at the awe-inspiring Alcazar. This UNESCO World Heritage site is renowned for its stunning Mudéjar, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architectural styles.

Its elaborate tilework, sumptuous rooms, and lush gardens serve as a testimony to centuries of history, enthralling guests with its ageless beauty and cultural relevance.

It is worth noting that people were milling around at this time of the year dressed in shirts, trousers with jackets or light coats. Temperatures range from 13 degrees at night to 20-22 degrees during the day.

Seville Cathedral

Seville Cathedral, or the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, is an awe-inspiring architectural marvel located in the heart of Seville, Spain. Built on the site of a former mosque, the cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The cathedral’s exterior is characterized by its imposing size and intricate Gothic design. Its iconic bell tower, known as La Giralda, was originally constructed as a minaret during the Moorish period and later converted into a bell tower. Rising to a height of over 100 meters, La Giralda offers panoramic views of the city and is a symbol of Seville’s rich history.

Inside, the cathedral boasts a breathtaking interior with soaring vaulted ceilings, ornate altars, and majestic stained-glass windows. Visitors can marvel at masterpieces of religious art, including works by renowned artists such as Murillo, Zurbarán, and Goya. The cathedral’s main altar, adorned with intricate gold leaf and intricate carvings, is a sight to behold.

One of the cathedral’s most famous features is the Tomb of Christopher Columbus, which is located near the entrance. The tomb, supported by four allegorical figures representing the kingdoms of Spain, is a symbol of Seville’s historic role in the Age of Discovery.

Palacio Arzobispal

The Palacio Arzobispal, or Archbishop’s Palace, in Seville, is a historic and architectural gem located adjacent to the iconic Seville Cathedral. This magnificent building, constructed in the 16th century, serves as the official residence of the Archbishop of Seville.

The palace boasts an impressive facade characterized by its Renaissance and Baroque architectural elements. Its grand entrance features intricately carved stone details, elegant archways, and ornate balconies, showcasing the craftsmanship of the period. The facade is adorned with sculptural reliefs and decorative motifs, adding to its grandeur and beauty.

Inside, the Palacio Arzobispal reveals a stunning courtyard adorned with lush greenery, marble columns, and a central fountain. Visitors can admire the architectural details and soak in the tranquil ambience of this historic space.

The palace also houses valuable art collections, including paintings, tapestries, and religious artefacts, offering insights into the rich history and cultural heritage of Seville and the Catholic Church.

Overall, the Palacio Arzobispal stands as a testament to Seville’s rich architectural heritage and serves as a fascinating cultural landmark for visitors to explore and appreciate.

Giralda Bell Tower

The iconic Giralda Bell Tower, standing tall in the historic centre and beautifully illuminated is one of the highlights of the city by day or night. Thousands of people lined the streets enjoying the Christmas carols, chestnut vendors and street entertainers.

Barrio Santa Cruz

During Christmas, the Barrio Santa Cruz in Seville transforms into a magical wonderland, exuding festive charm and warmth. Decorated with twinkling lights and colourful ornaments, the narrow streets and squares come alive. Visitors can wander through the enchanting labyrinth of alleys adorned with traditional Christmas decorations, including nativity scenes and illuminated displays.

The aroma of roasted chestnuts and cinnamon fills the air as street vendors offer seasonal treats and gifts. Cafes and tapas bars overflow with locals and tourists alike, enjoying traditional holiday delicacies and mulled wine. Live music performances and street entertainers add to the festive ambience.

At Plaza de Santa Cruz, a towering Christmas tree stands tall, surrounded by festive stalls selling handcrafted ornaments and local crafts. Families gather to admire the decorations and take part in holiday activities, such as carriage rides and visits to Santa Claus.

Torre Del Oro

The tour then takes you along the pretty Guadalquivir River, passing the Torre del Oro. This medieval watchtower, with its characteristic octagonal shape, was initially constructed to regulate access to the city via the river.

In addition to providing tourists with panoramic views from its upper levels, this structure now serves as a guardian of Seville’s nautical heritage. Inside, a museum showcases the city’s rich maritime history through exhibits of navigational tools, models, and artefacts.

Noria De Sevilla

Almost alongside the Torre Del Oro is the Noria De Sevilla wheel. Like many around the world, including London, it offers panoramic views of Seville’s enchanting skyline. A fairground is also onsite making it a popular stop for families with excitable, wide-eyed children all hoping to get their sticky hands on a stick of candy floss larger than themselves.

María Luisa Park

Entering the delightful María Luisa Park, my horse-drawn carriage meandered through tree-lined avenues. As the sun had set it had a slight Dickensian atmosphere, almost eery feel with low-lying mist and the sounds of Lucija’s hooves on the road.

Plaza de España

One of the signature landmarks in Seville is the stunning Plaza de España, a Renaissance-inspired square which, at this time of year is adorned with Christmas lights and buzzing with people taking photos.

The Plaza de España, situated within the enchanting Maria Luisa Park, was constructed in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, a monumental project involving around 1,000 workers daily for 15 years. The elliptical square features a prominent central building flanked by two imposing Baroque-style towers, reaching 229 feet high. Along the building’s walls, 48 tiled alcoves and benches represent Spain’s 48 provinces, a picturesque backdrop often photographed by locals.

The square also boasts a captivating 1640-foot-long canal, offering boat rentals. The square has also been featured in films like Lawrence of Arabia, The Dictator, and Star Wars.

Another fun way to discover the city and this Plaza is on a Segway tour.

Seville Christmas Markets

Having enjoyed the horse and cart tour it was time to sample Seville’s Christmas markets. From early December they are in full swing selling handcrafted traditional jewellery, festive decorations and seasonal treats.

Stalls such as Alfares Sevilla are best known for the incredible nativity sets and the thousands of different items from Baby Jesus to miniature furniture, terracotta pots and food items.

For every child or parent, adding these intricate pieces, year after year to their nativity scene, is a tradition that brings the family together!  It was lovely to see!

Seville Cuisine

The last part of my Festive evening in Seville involved sampling some of the local cuisine at the gorgeous Mateos Restaurant opposite the Cathedral. This local tapas bar is one of many that introduces you to Seville’s culinary delights.

Sample traditional dishes like potato and ham croquettes, salmorejo, a cold tomato soup, or gambas al ajillo, garlic-infused shrimp. To drink you can’t go wrong sipping on a glass of locally produced wine, sherry or sangria. The Sangria will of course come with those famous Seville Oranges which you will see all over the city!

Top 10 Places to Visit in Seville

  1. Alcázar of Seville: Explore this stunning royal palace with its intricate Moorish architecture and beautiful gardens.
  2. Seville Cathedral: Admire the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus.
  3. Plaza de España: Marvel at this grand square with its impressive architecture, ceramic-tiled alcoves, and central fountain.
  4. Barrio Santa Cruz: Wander through the narrow streets of Seville’s historic Jewish quarter, filled with charming shops, cafes, and colourful buildings.
  5. Flamenco Show: Experience the passion and energy of flamenco with a live performance at one of Seville’s many tablaos.
  6. Metropol Parasol: Ascend this modern wooden structure for panoramic views of the city and enjoy a drink at the rooftop bar.
  7. Triana Neighborhood: Cross the Puente de Isabel II to explore this vibrant neighbourhood known for its ceramic workshops, tapas bars, and lively atmosphere.
  8. Torre del Oro: Visit this iconic 13th-century tower, once used as a watchtower and now home to a naval museum.
  9. María Luisa Park: Relax in this expansive park filled with lush greenery, ornamental ponds, and beautiful monuments.
  10. Flamenco Museum: Learn about the history and art of flamenco in this interactive museum, complete with exhibitions and live performances.

Pre-bookable excursions in Seville

Accommodation

If you are looking for a hotel recommendation I suggest the wonderful Barcelo Sevilla Renacimiento which is about a 10-minute taxi to the centre of town and fifteen minutes to Seville Airport.

This large luxury hotel is superb offering first-class facilities including four beautifully appointed restaurants. The exercise facilities include an outdoor swimming pool and a lovely swim-in/out swimming pool. There is also a children’s outdoor pool. On the subject of children, the Barceló Sevilla Renacimiento is located 500 metres from the Isla Magica theme park.

As a special mention, the breakfast here is superb. There is a “Vital Corner” with vitamin juices while the buffet choice is comprehensive including a bakery, meat counter, egg station, fruits, cereals and more. Certainly a breakfast for kings!

Reader Suggestion

One of my social media followers has also recommended a more traditional central hotel which may be your preferred style and location of accommodation. My thanks to Lis van Lynden for suggesting the Corral Del Rey which is located in the centre of Seville in the old quarter of Barrio Alfalfa just five minutes from the Cathedral.

Contact Information

Whilst my time in Seville was short, I left with cherished memories of a magical night in one of Spain’s most enchanting cities. If you get the opportunity to visit during the winter season – take it and don’t forget a carrot for Lucija!  

For more information visit the Seville Tourist Office, the Andalucia Tourist Board or contact your local travel agent or specialist tour operator.

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