Buro city guide: Seville
Winding, cobblestoned alleyways lined with orange trees, tapas bars with mouth-watering Analusian fare, residual glimpses of Moorish architecture, twirling flamenco dancers and a cathedral designed so that "those who see it built will say we're mad", Seville has all the hallmarks of Spanish flamboyance.
This picturesque pocket of southern Spain has its fair sprinkling of historical sites to explore, including the Alcázar castle, built during the Moorish Almohad dynasty and the Gothic Seville Cathedral, the site of Christopher Columbus's tomb, and a minaret turned bell tower, the Giralda.
Perhaps the most thrilling discovery is the Andalusian's passionate abandon when it comes to festivals. Streets fill for eight days and nights in Semana Santa (Holy Week) as processions of pasos (floats) bearing tableaux of Christ, virgins or saints make circuits of the city. During the spring fair (Feria de Abril, 30 April-7 May), half the city decamps to the casetas of the Recinto Ferial to parade on horseback, drink sherry with lemonade, and dance sevillanas.
Read on to discover where to eat, stay and play in the capital of southern Spain's Andalusia region.
Where to stay
1. Hotel Alfonso XIII
Situated among the arches and arabesques of the historic city centre, the Hotel Alfonso XIII is named after the King who commissioned the luxury property in 1928. Just a short stroll from the Reales Alcazares and Plaza de Espana, Hotel Alfonso XIII is an excellent choice for those connoisseurs of traditional, old world luxury.
Calle San Fernando, 2, 41004 Sevilla, Spain, hotel-alfonsoxiii-seville.com
2. Mercer Sevilla
The hotel's style marries a traditional Andalusian casa palacio from the late 19th century with bang-up-to-date European furnishings. Don't miss the sophisticated lounge bar, featuring a warm palette of (Seville) orange and burnished mossy greens.
Calle Castelar, 26, 41001 Sevilla, Spain, mercersevilla.com
3. Casa del Poeta
Built in the typical Sevillano style of rooms around an arcaded patio, bursting with greenery, terracotta pots of frondy ferns and vibrant geraniums, and ivy hanging from the upper floors. The owner Angelo is Tuscan, so Roman art and artefacts bring a classical touch, as well as contemporary works by Andalucian artists. The hotel is so-named because the poet Ximenez de Enciso is said to have been born here.
Calle Don Carlos Alonso Chaparro, 3, 41004 Sevilla, Spain, casadelpoeta.es
4. Hotel Palacio de Villapanes
This converted 18th-century palace is situated just outside Seville's historic Santa Cruz district. With a lush garden terrace overlooking the city skyline, the hotel features fifty spacious rooms with clean, white, wood-panelled walls and lush damasks in greys and blacks.
Calle Santiago, 31, 41003 Sevilla, Spain, palaciovillapanes.com/en
Things To Do
1. La Giralda and Seville Cathedral
Few things are more emblematic of Seville than La Giralda - the cathedral's soaring bell-tower. Originally built as a 12th-century minaret, it's perfect for a view of the city. The vast cathedral alongside it is Europe's largest Gothic building, with impressive filigree stonework on the façade and riotously over-the-top gold altars inside.
Av. de la Constitución, Sevilla, Spain, catedraldesevilla.es
2. Alcázar of Seville
A magnificent marriage of Christian and Mudéjar architecture, Seville's UNESCO-listed palace complex is a breathtaking spectacle. The site, which was originally developed as a fort in 913, has been revamped many times over the 11 centuries of its existence, most spectacularly in the 14th century when King Pedro added the sumptuous Palacio de Don Pedro, still today the Alcázar's crown jewel.
Patio de Banderas, s/n, 41004 Sevilla, Spain, alcazarsevilla.org
3. Parque de María Luisa
A delightful oasis of green, the extensive Parque de María Luisa is a lovely place to escape the noise of the city, with duck ponds, snoozing sevillanos and shady paths snaking under the trees. The park contains several historical drawcards. Chief among them is Plaza de España, the most extravagant of the building projects completed for the 1929 Exposición Iberoamericana.
Paseo de las Delicias, s/n, 41013 Sevilla, Spain
4. Metropol Parasol
Since opening in 2011, the opinion-dividing Metropol Parasol, known locally as las setas (the mushrooms), has become something of a city icon. Designed as a giant sunshade by German architect Jürgen Mayer-Hermann, it's said to be the world's largest wooden structure. It's not only a formidable sight in its own right, but a wonderful perch to take in the skyline, with uninterrupted city views.
Pl. de la Encarnación, s/n, 41003 Sevilla, Spain, setasdesevilla.com
Where to eat
What began as a weekly pop-up is now one of the city's buzziest restaurants, with a focus on slow food and reinvented Andalucían dishes. The setting is a bit like an art space, open with polished concrete floors, exposed air ducts, mismatched furniture and paintings on every wall. Incubating culture is a part of their philosophy, with music every Tuesday night and plenty of ad hoc events.
Calle San Luis, 50, 41003 Sevilla, Spain, restaurantecontenedor.com
2. Bar Eslava
A hit with locals and savvy visitors, much-lauded Eslava shirks the traditional tilework and bullfighting posters of tapas-bar lore in favour of a simple blue space and a menu of creative contemporary dishes. Standouts include slow-cooked egg served on a mushroom cake, and memorable pork ribs in a honey and rosemary glaze. Expect crowds and a buzzing atmosphere.
Calle Eslava, 3, 41002 Sevilla, Spain, espacioeslava.com
3. El Pinton
Serving an eclectic menu in keeping with its dynamic décor, El Pinton suits atypical palettes in an Instagram-ready space. Located inside a former textile warehouse, the cavernous main room marries the best of contrasting eras. Mains that hit the mark include the mini oxen slider burgers with roasted potatoes or the almost rare, red tuna tartar covered in tangy wasabi mayonnaise.
Calle Francos, 42, 41004 Sevilla, Spain, elpinton.com
4. La Brunilda
Behind the great big blue door lie exposed brick walls, wooden floors, high ceilings, great food and bustle. The menu - constantly changing - is filled with fine examples of Seville's new gastronomy wave, available in tapas or main-course portions (€4.80/€13). There are no reservations, so when it opens in the evenings, there's usually a queue.
Calle Galera, 5, 41002 Sevilla, Spain, facebook.com/LaBrunilda
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