To discover Sevilla, one can opt for a river trip from the Quinto Centenario Bridge to the Island of La Carti¡uja, a tour through the most monumental parts of the city in a picturesque horse-drawn carriage, or perhaps a ride on a comfortable sightseeing bus. When exploring the historic centre on foot, it is recommended to seek advice from professional tourist guides.
The area around the Cathedral contains the largest concentration of monuments in the city. Important historical building such as the Reales Alcázares, the oldest royal residence which is still in use in Europe, the Archive of the Indies (11) or the baroque Archbishop's Palace (3) compete with the charm of places such as the quiet Plaza de Santa Marta, a square leading to the Santa Cruz quarter.
The Cathedral (1) was built on the site of an Almohad mosque, of which the court of ablutions, today known as Patio de los Naranjos, and its minaret, the emblematic Giralda, still survive. It combines a variety of architectural styles, from the Islamic to the neoclassical, although gothic features are predominant. As is the case with the Reales Alcázares (10), the jewel of the Spanish Mudejar style, the Cathedral's precious collection of works of art is something that no one should miss.
Two squares - Plaza Nueva and Plaza de San Francisco - where visitors can admire the mannerist façade of the Town Hall, (51) - lead to El Salvador, another square which the locals use as a meeting place all year round. In its centre stands the church of the same whose tower and courtyard originally belonged to the Adabbas mosque, from the 8th century. In this part of the city, between bustling streets with a wide variety of cafes, bars and traditional shops, emerge small chapels like that of San Jose (56), with its magnificent baroque altarpiece, or San Antonio Abad. Nearby is the Fine Arts Museum (53-54), the second most important art gallery in Spain after the Prado Museum, which contains masterpieces by prominent artist such as Murillo and Zurbarán.
The Avenida de la Constitución, the main artery of the city centre, leads to the Puerta de Jerez and Calle San Fernando, where we find another the Sevilla's most important Monuments, the Tobacco Factory (30) (18th century). The building, whose cigar makers were recreated in the mythical Carmen, currently houses the University.
Santa Cruz (7), the old Jewish quarter, is perhaps the area of the city which best reflect the true Sevillian character. Wandering through the intricate Moorish layout of streets is perhaps the best way to discover the special details that make this a unique place: windows with beautiful wrought - iron railings crammed with flower pots, small squares where time seems to have stood still, majestic palatial houses, passages which are barely two meters wide…
History and legend have given highly evocative names to many of the streets and passages. Examples include Callejón del Agua (Water Lane), Callejó de la Judería (Jewry Lane), streets called Susona and Pimienta (pepper), where the guild of spice - sellers was located, the Plaza de los Venerables, a square which is recreated in the first Act of Don Juan Tenorio, and the birth places to visit in the quarter include the Casa de la Memoria de Al-Andalus (House dedicated to the Memory of Al-Andalus), the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes (9) or baroque Church of Santa Cruz (5).
The old Jewish quarter occupied the area where the Santa Cruz quarter now stands and the area surrounding the Church of Santa María la Blanca (6), a 13th century synagogue which houses an interesting canvas by Murillo and is decorated with baroque plasterworks dating from the 17th century. The area that lies between the Church and the Plaza de San Leandro square, with its popular Pila del Pato, has surprisingly quiet and narrow streets which are dotted with large convents and palaces such as that of Mañara, in Calle Levíes, a name which clearly reminds us of the area's Hebrew past. Just a few steps away stands another of the greatest monuments of Sevilla, the Casa de Pilatos (45), a building in fine Renaissance style which contains valuable sculptures and paintings.
Behind the best preserved part of the city wall (74), which dates from the Almoravid period, stands the Esperanza Macarena Basilica (76-77), which contains one of the most venerated religious effigies in Sevilla. Next to it begins Calle San Luis, a street which is the backbone of a popular quarter named after the Baroque Church of San Luis de los Franceses (72). Amongst the most important religious buildings in the quarter are the convents of Santa Isabel (67) and Santa Paula (68), as well as the Mudejar churches of Santa Marina (71), San Marcos (66) and Omnium Sanctorum (73), the latter located in the nearby Calle Feria.
Further into the centre of the city, we find another Mudejar church, Santa Catalina (63), which has been declared a National Monument. Outside the wall stands the Hospital de la Sangre or de las Cinco Llagas (79), an imposing renaissance building whose construction was ordered by Don Fadrique Enríquez de Ribera in the 16th century but now houses the Andalusian Parliament.
Between the Plaza del Cabildo square and the Paseo de Colón avenue lies the Arenal quarter. The quarter is the bullfighting area par excellence since it is there there that the La Maestranza bullring (17) is to be found. The bars of this part of the city are highly popular amongst the locals for their pescaíto. Amongst other places of interest in this district are the Reales Atarazanas /the Royal shipbuilding yards/ (13), the Hospital de la Caridad (14-15), which houses an interesting museum of religious art, the Torre de La Plata and Torre del Oro towers (27) - the latter, constructed in the Almohad period, now houses the Naval Museum -, and the aestranza Theatre (16), which was especially built for the 1992 World Exposition. Nearby stands the San Telmo Palace (29), the finest example of baroque public buildings in Sevilla. Originally built to house a School for Mariners, it is today used as the Official Offices for the President of the Andalusian Regional Government.
Triana has preserved all the charm and character of the traditional popular quartes. The first solid bridge to link the area with the main part of Sevilla - the Isabel II Bridge (19) which is popularly known as Triana Bridge - was not constructed until the middle of the 19th century. The long period of isolation helped to create a feeling of independence which still survives - an illustration of this is that the main church of the quarter, Santa Ana (25), is still referred to as "Triana's Cathedral".
Other churches and chapels which are to be found in its flower -filled streets include San Jacinto (22), Los Marineros (24), which is the seat of the Esperanza de Triana religious brotherhood, Nuestra Señora de la 0 (20), Virgen de la Estrella (23) and El Cristo de la Expiración (21), which is popularly known as El Cachorro because it contains a baroque sculpture of Christ which bears that name.
The María Luisa Park (E-8) owes its name to Princesa María Luisa de Orleans, who bequeathed the city part of the gardens belonging to the San Telmo Palace, then owned by her family. Apart from having interesting botanical features and landscapes, the park also includes beautiful old pavilions and arbours which were mostly designed by Aníbal González, the architect who was also responsible for the colossal Plaza de España (34), a square which combines all the artistic styles of Spanish architecture, and the Plaza de América, a square which includes the Mudejar Pavilion (36-37) and the Province's Archaeological Museum (38-39).
Sevilla is an innovative city which has managed to grow and modernise itself without losing its more traditional values. An illustration of this is the Island of Cartuja, the site of the 1992 World Exposition. Now re-named Cartuja '93, the complex contains buildings with an avant garde design, the Isla Mágica Theme park, the Cartuja Scientific and Technological Park, the Cartuja High Performance Centre, various university faculties, as well as service companies and recreational areas. The new commercial and business centres of Nervión and La Buhaira, perhaps the most cosmopolitan and lively areas in the city, are also examples of 21st century Sevilla.