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The Alcazar in Seville
The Alcazar in Seville


Mudejar Architecture at the Alcazar
Mudéjar Architecture at the Alcazar

Begin your second day in Seville with a visit to the Alcazar. But first, stop by one of the many bars that surround the ancient fortress for a bite to eat. Try Bar Gonzalo for a simple Spanish breakfast of toast and coffee, and grab a table on the sidewalk for some first-rate people watching.

You can spend an entire day wandering the grounds of the Alcazar, so it's best to take a tour, or at the very least, rent an audio guide. Pedro the Cruel converted the former fortress into a royal palace (it remains to this day the Royal Family's official residence in Seville), incorporating fragments of earlier Moorish buildings into the reconstruction. The Alcazar, through centuries of war, fires and tremors, still encompasses some of the finest examples of Mudéjar architecture (a style developed by Moors working under Christian rule). The Renaissance gardens surrounding the palace are also steeped in history—legend has it that the Cruel One assassinated his brother in 1358 in the "Patio of the Doll," so named because it was where his daughter kept her toys. On a lighter note, the gardens provide a tranquil escape from the crowds, one of the most serene being the Jardin Ingles on the southwest side.

Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza
Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza

After your visit, you should have worked up an appetite for lunch. Head a bit north and try Sierra Mayor, one of several locations in the city. Airy yet rustic, the branch on Calle Joaquin Guichot is hidden away on a narrow alley. Try the refreshing gazpacho, cold bread and tomato soup; the decadent tuna marinated in olive oil; or the house specialty, roast pork. After lunch, retreat to your room for a mid-day rest or laze under the trees in any of the city's neighborhood parks or plazas.

In the evening, continue your exploration of Seville by heading toward El Arenal. This district, along the Guadalquivir River, is home to several key sites, including the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza, Seville's bullring. With construction having begun in 1758, the impressive gold-and-white bullring is one of the oldest in Spain. English tours are available and there is also a small museum on site showcasing the history of Spain's national sport.

Nearby is the Torre de Oro, or Tower of Gold, a 13th-century defensive tower overlooking the Guadalquivir that was once lined with gold tiles; their reflections in the sun were visible for miles. Now, it is home to a maritime museum. The riverside promenade on which it lies is a pleasant stroll, especially at sunset. Marvel at the Puente de San Telmo to the south and Puente de Triana to the north, bridges leading across the river to the atmospheric barrio of Triana, chock-full of pottery and tile-making shops. Watch kayakers play their unique version of water polo in the river, or relax at a seasonal café with a coffee or glass of wine and behold the superb views.

El Patio Sevillano
El Patio Sevillano

Tonight is the night to partake in the most Sevillian of all Sevillian pastimes: a flamenco show. While flamenco venues abound in the city—from tiny bars to large-scale productions—a good option for first-timers is El Patio Sevillano, just steps from the bullring. The hour-and-a-half long performances are a good introduction, and visitors can even arrive early for a brief lesson. Dinner/show packages are available, and while diners get the better seats closer to the stage, the pre-set menu is overpriced; save your money and eat later. Another nearby choice is Tablao El Arenal, a popular destination for tourist groups for more than a quarter century. If you want to delve deeper into the flamenco tradition, consider a course at Taller Flamenco. Weeklong classes are offered in traditional dance, guitar, singing and Spanish language.

With the sounds of guitar and castanets stomping through your veins, it's now time for dinner. Head back to Santa Cruz for an upscale meal at one of the city's finest restaurants, La Albahaca. On the scenic Plaza de Santa Cruz, La Albahaca, or basil, is a favorite for royalty, politicians and celebrities. The setting is refined, the dishes Andalucian with a touch of French influence. A set menu is available, or try any of the house specialties, such as Iberian pork, roasted boar or grilled monkfish.

Continue to Day 3


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Virgen de la Macarena

* Large Alcazar photo from Small Alcazar photo and Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza photo from El Patio Sevillano photo from

(Updated: 09/11/08 LH)

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