Seville -a melting pot of different civilizations- is famous for its marked universal spirit and its traditional and festive character. It is quite difficult to enumerate every wonder in this city whose main monuments were declared UNESCO World Heritage in 1987.
CATHEDRAL AND GIRALDA
The dimensions of this Cathedral make it one of the largest gothic temples in the Christian faith, surpassed only by St. Paul’s in London and St. Peter’s at the Vatican, which are more modern constructions. The Cathedral is built over the location of former Great Mosque, of which the patio of ablutions or los Naranjos, the Puerta del Perdón (door of pardon) and the minaret are still preserved. The minaret is currently known as la Giralda (weathervane) due to the 16th century one that crowns it. The mosque was converted into a Christian temple in 1248 when King Fernando III of Castile conquered the city. Its different phases of construction were carried out in Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassic periods. The Cathedral has five façades. The most commonly used entrance is the one that is reached from the Plaza de la Virgen de los Reyes. It has five naves (the main one is 36 meters tall) and its floor plan in rectangular and measures 116 meters in length by 76 meters in width. The highest point is at the crosspiece, which reaches 40 metres in height. The main altarpiece has the largest dimensions of any that are known, and was built in several phases. The main room, a Renaissance construction, is from the second half of the 16th century. The larger sacristy is plateresque and houses precious metal work such as “La Custodia de Plata” by Juan de Arfe and images such as El Cristo de la Clemencia by Montañés Martinez. The Choir and the Royal Chapel further enrich the heritage of the temple, whose true name is Santa Maria de la Sede. The remains of Christopher Columbus are held in this temple.
REALES ALCÁZARES PALACE
Pedro I the Cruel rebuilt the old Almohade palace and equipped it to function as a Royal Residence. It suffered serious deterioration with the passage of time and had to be restored during the reign of Isabel II. The interior of the building unfolds around two patios: that of las Doncellas, where official life was carried out, and that of las Muñecas, where private life was lived. The Salón de Embajadores (Ambassadors’ Hall) is beautifully is decorated with plasterwork and tiles. The upper floor is accessed by a 16th century stairwell, which is covered by coffered ceiling and decorated with paintings by Roelas and Madrazo, artfully placed to emphasize the furniture and carpets that adorn several of the rooms. A tour of the complex is completed with the Apeadero (stopping place) and the gardens, in which the Fuente de Mercurio (Mercury’s fountain) and the Galería del Grutesco are remarkable.
FINE ARTS MUSEUM
This is the second most important public art museum in Spain. Located in the old Carmelita de la Merced convent, it was originally founded as a Portrait Gallery in 1835, and it opened its doors to the public in 1841 with works obtained from closed convents and monasteries.
It holds exceptionally unique, internationally famous Spanish paintings. Among them the paintings of the Immaculate Virgin by Bartholomew Esteban Murillo, the works by the Court-appointed painter Diego de Velázquez, those by Francisco de Zurbarán and the Chiaroscuros by Valdés Leal are worthy of a special mention. The museum also contains a collection of works from the period between the 12th and 15th centuries and of Baroque and Romantic paintings (17th and 19th centuries) and a selection of sculptures by artists such as Martínez Montañés. With respect to turn of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, the works of Gustavo Bacarisas, Alfonso Grosso and Gonzalo from Bilbao can be singled out.
PLAZA DE ESPAÑA AND PLAZA DE AMÉRICA
Plaza de España is the main building of the urban-artistic complex created for the Iberoamerican Exhibition that took place in Seville at the beginning of 20th century (planned for 1914 finally it took place in 1929). Built by Aníbal González with a 200 meters diameter semicircular plan surrounded by a lake and two towers in which we can find every architectural style it is the most important project of this famous modernist architect. One of its most popular feature are the walls with hand painted tiles representing historical moments of every city in Spain.
Plaza de América (America square) is enclosed in the romantic María Luisa Park and is bordered by three palaces also constructed for the Exhibition. The first, neogothic in style, was the Royal Pavilion during the exhibition. The second one -a mudejar fantasy- houses the Museum of Arts and Popular Customs and has been a scenary for several films such as Lawrence of Arabia. The third palace , in renaissance style, is the Provincial Archaeological Museum, which contains lots of mosaics and marble statues from the ruins of Itálica a neighbour ancient village birthplace of roman caesars Trajanus and Adrianus.
PONTIUS PILATE´S HOUSE
Sevilian palace popularly known as it is for being the beginning of a vía crucis (route or way of the cross) that was established by the Marquis of Tarifa upon his return from Jerusalem in 1519. Its construction was begun at the end of the 15th century. It is of moorish origin, although it also has gothic and plateresque elements. The Renaissance façade is crowned with a gothic cresting. The main patio has both mudejar and plateresque decoration, and holds an important collection of antiques and roman statues from Itálica. In the Descanso de los Jueces room there is a beautiful arch clad with mudejar and gothic elements and paintings from Francisco Pacheco in 1603.
BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ
The Barrio of Santa Cruz is the old jewish town or judería, which dates back to the Moorish Seville. Situated near the leading monuments it is one of the identity marks of the city. It´s narrow streets and alleys, intertwine into a labyrinth, which provide protection from the oppressive sun of the Sevillian summer. Scattered through the neighborhood are the Plaza de Santa Cruz, the Plaza de los Venerables, the Plaza de las Cruces, the Plaza de Doña Elvira, and the Plaza de los Refinadores.
TORRE DEL ORO
The Torre del Oro or Tower of Gold, is raised on the banks of the Guadalquivir river, just a few meters from the hotel. This dodecagonal tower was built by the Almohad dynasty in order to control access to Seville via the Guadalquivir river.
Constructed in the first third of the 13th century, the tower was used initially as a prison during the Middle Ages and later as a secure enclosure to stock gold brought by the Indies, hence it is named.