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:
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.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Seville is a masterpiece of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The city boasts the title of the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, housing remarkable treasures within its sacred walls.
Adjacent to Seville Cathedral, and in the heart of the city, stands the striking palace known as Palacio Arzobispall. The palace, with its elaborate exterior and complex design, is a monument to the rich ecclesiastical legacy of the city.
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
We navigated our way through into the historic Jewish Quarter, Barrio Santa Cruz, with its charming narrow streets, little shops and hidden squares that in December, come alive with the glow of festive lights.
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 maritime 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 atmospheric, 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 feet long canal, offering boat rentals. The square has also 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!
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!
Pre-bookable excursions in Seville
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!
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.
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!