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By Sandra from Seville Traveller
Seville is located in the South of Spain, and according to a large majority (including me), it is the most beautiful city of the country.
It is not surprising though that it receives more than 1.8 million visitors every year.
As you can imagine, some prefer to discover Seville on a guided tour sharing the experience with another 30 people. But others, independent travellers like you and me, opt to wander around looking for authenticity and uniqueness.
While most of you may associate Seville with bullfighting, flamenco, delicious tapas and amazing sights like the Giralda tower or the Cathedral, the truth is that Seville has a lot more to offer.
Actually, most visitors come back after realizing there is so much to see.
Here is a list of some of my favorite places, all of them are away from the touristic circuits and off the beaten path.
Iglesia de Santa Marina (c/ San Luis, 39)
Seville is a very old city, dating from the times of the Roman Empire. As a consequence, it is full of monuments, buildings and structures that have been there for centuries. The Iglesia de Santa Marina is one of them.
It was built in the 14th century using the base of an old mosque and it has survived earthquakes, fires and wars. I am always impressed by the simplicity of its design and, at the same time, the personality it has. If you get there and you see that the doors are closed, have a drink at some of the bars around and wait until it is mass time.
Plaza del Cabildo
The Plaza del Cabildo is probably the only circled-square (plaza) in Seville. It is just 2 minutes away from the Cathedral but many miss it because you need to enter through a passage at the Avenida de la Constitución. Look for the entrace while you walk towards the Cathedral.
The action takes place on Sundays, when people from everywhere gather to sell, buy and exchange collectors (stamps, coins, stickers…). Even if you cannot make it on a Sunday, the detour will be worthwhile.
Convento de San Leandro (Plaza de San Ildefonso, 1)
The convent is famous for the yemas (sweet made with egg yolk and sugar) the nuns sell there. It was built in the 17th century and, apart from the magnificent retablo mayor (altarpiece) it has two lateral retablos made by Martinez Montañés.
He was a Spanish sculptor (1568-1649) and he is considered one of the masters of the Sevillian school. These two masterpieces seem to be alive and any museum would charge you a fortune to let you admire them.
Plaza Doña Elvira
Despite the fact that the Barrio de Santa Cruz (the old Jewish Quarter) is generally crowded, this little square is the perfect place to sit and relax while feeling the water flowing at the fountain. The mornings are usually not the best time of the day to get there as you will see lots of tourist groups walking around the narrow streets of the barrio.
I prefer to go there early in the afternoon, while everybody is resting after lunch. I consider it a very special place because every little detail is important: the tree’s shade, the mosaics of the benches and the balconies around. It makes me feel I am in a small village of Andalucia rather than in a big city.
Las Golondrinas (c/ Antillano Campos, 26)
After walking around the center, Triana neighborhood deserves a visit. Cross the Isabel II bridge (also known as Puente de Triana) and head to Las Golondrinas, my favorite tapas bar in the city!
There, you will have the chance to taste the best Spanish food and refresh yourself. The menu is not very long (ie. You will not have to choose among dozens of tapas) but the selection is so good you will come back if you have the chance.
Apart from the great local atmosphere, the bar is decorated with typical Sevillian elements. You will love it.
La Alameda de Hércules
According to the experts, this area is the origin of Seville. In fact, the oldest church of the city, Omnium Sanctorum, is a few minutes walk from there. On each end there are two huge Roman pillars. At the top of one of them is a statue of Hercules, the founder of Seville according to an old legend.
However, the main attraction of the Alameda is not the columns but the bars and terraces that surround the area. Here, you will find the perfect spot to either have a great breakfast (Sevillanos love to have it at a bar), some nice lunch or a drink in the evening.
This lively neighborhood has developed in the last few years the most trendy atmosphere you can find in town. It is a mix of bohemian and cutting edge styles, where people dress and live differently from the rest. Some venues host independent music bands and the neighborhood is one of the best places to enjoy Seville’s nightlife.
Remember, this is only a sample of all the secrets Seville hides. I could have written an endless list, but I had to choose among all of my favorite places. I am sure that you will find many more plazas, corners and alleys that will marvel you.
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BIO – Sandra lives in Seville and spends all her free time travelling around the world. She is the editor and creator of Seville Traveller, where you can find additional things to do in Seville. You can also follow her on Twitter.