Seville, Spain travel guide and things to do: seven must-do highlights


It's fascinating to find that a city as old and proudly historic as Seville is now famous for the Metropol Parasol, a large and incongruously modern sculpture a stone's throw from the Old Town. The Parasol is known colloquially as "Las Setas", or "the mushrooms", thanks to its undulating series of pillars and honeycombed roofing. It's a love-it-or-hate-it sort of structure, though regardless of your opinion, you can't argue that the views from the walkways that meander across the top are truly spectacular. See


The world's largest Gothic cathedral is a stunning sight both inside and out, and another of the structures that defines Seville. Built between 1434 and 1517, on the site of what had been the city's main mosque, the Catedral de Sevilla is visible from across the city thanks to the Giralda, the 104-metre-high belltower that was once a minaret, built in 1198 by the Moors. The cathedral is home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus, as well as the spectacular Capilla Mayor chapel. See


Game of Thrones fans will immediately recognise the Real Alcazar: Seville's stunningly beautiful palace complex became the fictitious land of Dorne for the HBO series' fifth season. There's far more reason to visit, however, than GOT connections. The Real Alcazar is something else, a one-time fort, built in AD913, that has since been moulded over centuries by various cultures and leaders into a sprawling collection of mansions, courtyards and gardens, designed with a blend of Moorish, Renaissance and Castilian styles. See


It's a fool's errand attempting to narrow Seville's vibrant tapas culture into just one bar, one small plate of food. This city is the epitome of the phrase "moveable feast", a place that can and should be taken on the run, moving from bar to bar, snack to snack, drink to drink. If, however, you're going to call into just one bar, make it La Fresquita, a standing-room-only, hole-in-the-wall tapas joint near the cathedral which goes big on the religious decorations (the walls are covered in icons), and low on fuss and price. See


Seville is in Andalusia, a part of Spain with a proud culinary tradition, known in particular for jamon iberico – the much-sought-after cured pork – and jerez, or sherry. Though jerez is suffering from a bit of an image problem in the modern world, struggling to compete with wine and beer as a crowd favourite, it's still immensely popular in Seville, and worth seeking out during an evening on the town. To sample the finest drops, from dry, savoury manzanilla and palo cortado, to sweet, delicious Pedro Ximenez, call into Bar Las Teresas in the Old Town. See


Seville has a whole host of world-class museums and galleries, though perhaps none as impressive as the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes, formerly a home for ageing priests, now a home for ageing works of fine art. The 17th-century baroque complex is an attraction in itself, in particular its church with beautifully preserved frescos, and the courtyard surrounded by Tuscan arches, though most visitors come here to see the collection of artworks by Spanish baroque artist Diego Velazquez. See


Flamenco is everything that's good about Andalusia: it's passion, it's beauty, it's identity. It's also, if you're not careful, very touristy. Seville is littered with tourist-focused flamenco shows, which range from the authentic to the tacky. Ultimately, of course, you would see flamenco performed spontaneously, by passionate locals in a bar or a plaza. That's impossible to arrange though, so instead book in to see a show at Los Gallos, a Seville institution that proudly carries on the flamenco tradition. See

Ben Groundwater travelled at his own expense.