The Many Faces of Sevilla, Spain


The Alcázar Gardens in Sevilla, Spain—C.Helbig

We’ve had a lot of gloomy weather in beautiful Vancouver and my mind is wandering to sunnier spots. Aaah…Sevilla, Spain, now that makes me feel cheery. Our son Alex spent four months in Sevilla as part of a gap year and we of course took the opportunity to visit him. That was almost a year ago, last November. Sevilla is a stunning city and November in southern Spain is as good as it gets—no crowds and beautiful warm, sunny weather. Mike and I had an awesome time discovering the city and Alex took full advantage of scrumptious tapas meals courtesy of mom and dad.

Sevilla’s main tourist attractions are overwhelming and we quickly realized that we needed to slow down the pace, interspersing “must-see” sights with aimless wandering and leisurely meals in pretty squares. I think what struck us most as we explored the city is the many things that make up Sevilla’s deep-rooted identity. From flamenco to bullfighting, Catholic tradition to Moorish past, world-famous ceramic tiles to tapas epicentre, the city brims with an amazing mixture of history, culture, beauty, and passion.


Department store wall adorned with defining images of Sevilla—C.Helbig


Jamón everywhere you look—C.Helbig


Typical Sevilla tile work—C.Helbig

Alex didn’t have much time for sightseeing with us (claimed he was busy studying Spanish…hmm) but he was anxious to show us the Plaza de España, a complex built in 1928 for the American-Ibero Exposition World’s Fair. The grandeur of the place, and the blend of Moorish, Art Deco, and Renaissance-influenced architecture are striking. But perhaps what excited Alex most about the Plaza de España is that a couple of his favourite films—The Dictator and Star Wars—had scenes shot there.  It was also featured in Lawrence of Arabia.


Plaza de España, Seville, Spain—C.Helbig


Moorish influenced tile work at Plaza de España—C.Helbig

As some of you may remember, Granada’s Alhambra is one of my all time favourite places, so visiting Sevilla’s Alcázar was high on my list. I’m a big fan of Moorish architecture. Its graceful arches, intricate tile work, and soothing water features totally enrapture me. While the Alcázar, a royal palace originally developed by Muslim Kings, does not have the dramatic hill-top presence of Granada’s Alhambra, its architecture and gardens are breathtaking. Sevilla’s Alcázar is a Unesco World Heritage site and is still used today as the official Sevilla residence for the royal family.


Inside the Alcázar in Sevilla, Spain—C.Helbig


The Alcázar in Sevilla, Spain—C.Helbig


Mercury’s Pool in the Alcázar Gardens—C.Helbig


The Alcázar Gardens—C.Helbig


Mercury’s Pool in the late day sunshine—C.Helbig

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, better known as the Seville Cathedral is impossible to miss. It dominates the old city centre. To put it in perspective, the Seville Cathedral is the third largest church in the world, and the largest Gothic church. La Giralda, the cathedral’s bell tower is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and comes in very handy when you need to get your bearings. The inside of the church is cavernous, and the pillars have an unbelievable circumference. Churches are not really Alex’s thing, but this one has a special, if controversial draw—the tomb and purported remains of Christopher Columbus.


Sprawling Seville Cathedral—C.Helbig


Seville Cathedral—C.Helbig


Magnificent entry and orange tree-filled courtyard—C.Helbig

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Tomb of Christopher Columbus, Seville Cathedral—C.Helbig


Enormous gilded reredos (altarpiece)—C.Helbig


Check out the size of those pillars—C.Helbig


La Giralda bell tower—C.Helbig

Below are a random selection of photos from our aimless wanderings and re-charging breaks.


Beautiful plaza by the Seville Cathedral—C. Helbig


A city of amazing architecture (Plaza del Cabildo)—C.Helbig


One of hundreds of beautiful squares—C.Helbig

The photo above and below are crappy, but I put them in because they remind me of an idyllic afternoon in Sevilla’s Barrio Santa Cruz—a long lunch and glasses of wine in a pretty, orange tree-lined plaza with the Alcázar wall on one side and view to La Giralda bell tower on the other. I blame the bad photography on too much wine.


Enjoying lunch right next to the Alcázar walls—C.Helbig


Torre del Oro watchtower along the Guadalquivir River—C.Helbig

Sevilla occupies a lovely location along the Guadalquivir River. Most of the main tourist sights are found on the east bank. We stayed on the west bank, in Triana, a wonderfully authentic neighbourhood that is also home to Sevilla’s famous ceramic tile shops and factories.


View from the rooftop of our Air B&B in the Triana neighbourhood, Iglesia de Santa Ana—C.Helbig


My favourite memory of Sevilla: time with Alex—C.Helbig

Sadly, we spent far too little time in Sevilla—only four days—but long enough to fall under her spell. I’m sure that for 18-year-old Alex his four months in Sevilla have shaped who he is and left indelible memories—and probably best I don’t know too much.

Next stop, Cordoba.

If you missed my Southern Spain series, please take a look at these posts:

Granada’s Albayzin District, Granada’s Alhambra, Hiking in Granada

Hiking in Grazalema, Cycling the Via Verde de la Sierra

Southern Spain’s Pueblo Blancos

Spain’s Southern Costa de la Luz

The Amazing City of Cadiz



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26 thoughts on “The Many Faces of Sevilla, Spain

  1. Pingback: 100th Post: Ten Places that have “Stuck with Me” | Writes of Passage

  2. The architecture looks amazing!! We’re headed to Sevilla in less than a month, I can’t wait to see the alcazar and eat all of the tapas.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. WOW, nice story. I also had a chance to visit Sevilla but it was in so short time… that I know that I have to come back there and explore more 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Yes there is so much to see in Sevilla, not to mention just the great time relaxing and watching the sights and sounds of the city and its people. I hope you get to go again.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Beyond the Mezquita: Discovering Córdoba, Spain | Writes of Passage

  5. Oh Seville, such a gorgeous, gorgeous city. You captured it well. Your photos of the alcazar are really stunning! Wow! And of course being a mom myself of sons, living far away, I love the puc of you and Alex and the commentary on that relationship….How wonderful he got four months there for his gap year ~ and how great he is TAKING a gap year! Where else will he go?

    We spent about a month living there during the winter months of 2014 as we had two consecutive home exchanges to use which were great. It was wonderful being there with so few tourists compared to the of course busy summer months.

    We loved the whole river bank area, and I loved how orange trees grow everywhere in the city!

    Thanks for the memories. Great post!



    • Hi Peta, you are lucky to have spent a month in this beautiful city. Our short time there was a dream made even more special with Alex there. His gap year and especially his time in Seville was just what he needed. I was hoping he would do more traveling after Seville but he decided he wanted to work (funny how the parent advises travel and the son takes the responsible route).Oh well, I’m sure there will be much more travel in his future.
      By the way, I too loved the orange trees and it was really fun staying in Triana on the other side of the river. I could have spent days visiting all the tile shops.
      Cheers, Caroline

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The Alcázar is beautiful although I love the cathedral! I can only imagine what it must be like to be inside where the size of the structure in comparison with the people is incredible.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. queencitypetite

    I’m visiting Spain in November (17-28). My first time in Europe! I will be in Seville for 4 days then traveling to Barcelona and Madrid. What should I expect weather wise? I’m unsure of what clothes to bring. haha


    • Anonymous

      Bring layers.If our experience was any indication then Seville should still be pretty nice and warm-low 70sF/20sC but evenings you’ll need a jacket. Barcelona will be colder and perhaps some rain. Enjoy!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi! I nominated you for a Sunshine Blogger Award. You can find the nomination on my website (

    Happy Halloween!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Diana! I’m travelling right now and just finishing off a final post before taking a bit of a blogging break. Your interesting questions will take some thought so will have to wait til I get back.
      Happy Halloween to you too.


  9. Wow! The architecture is incredible, great photos. And I didn’t realize how nice the weather is in November – we’re thinking of an international trip for next fall and this may be on this list…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ashley. The weather was incredible. We had one day of rain in almost one month of travel in southern Spain and the temperature was perfect. Locals told us that from mid-Oct. through most of November is the best time to travel in these parts for the lack of crowds and usually nice weather. I highly recommend it (northern Spain may be a different story).


  10. What a gorgeous place! The Plaza in particular is incredible and the Moorish architecture is so, so beautiful. I’ve never seen Moorish architecture in person (except fragments in museums) and I’m enthralled by your photos of the Alcazar; I am imagining what it must be like to experience the space in person!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ya, Seville is a sweet spot and its amazing architecture and Moorish influence is a big part of it for me. The Alcazar is so wonderfully exotic (for us anyway) and a highlight of our visit to Seville.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Haha, I’m glad you liked the “crappy” photos. I’m becoming more critical about whether photos are blog-worthy now that I’m taking a photography course. But you’re right, I do think that some amazing moments elude photo-capture (at least I have crappy photos, sometimes I forget to take them altogether).
    I am so happy that our son got to experience this time in a really amazing part of the world.
    Sun is expected to make an appearance on Friday…fingers crossed (but we’re heading to Arizona/Utah for a short break).

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Beautiful photos! Seville is my favorite city in Spain (that I have visited). I loved strolling through the gardens at the Alcazar.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Katherine. I really hope we get the chance to go back. I’d love to rent a place for longer term and just “hang-out”…maybe take a stab at getting beyond tourist-level Spanish. Yes the Alcazar Gardens are amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Great photos flagging great places to visit. We travelled to Seville years ago with my parents in tow. I don’t remember seeing much there probably because parents room was robbed as we slept. So we had to to get back to Madrid to chase up new passports etc for them. Put a bit of a dampner on the trip to Spain.
    The cathedral is magnificent! And the photo of the bell tower of St Ana is glorious with the orange light. Lovely photo of you and your son.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s horrible Louise. I’m sure it tainted your view of Seville/Spain. I was robbed in Amsterdam, many years ago, and though I’ve been back since and had a great time, it was always lingering in my mind.
      Before visiting Seville I had no idea about the size and importance of the cathedral. It is totally out of proportion with its surroundings…but I think that’s what the Catholic Monarchs were after. Looking at beautiful Santa Ana from our guesthouse was a very pleasant thing. Thanks, the photo of Alex and me is one of my favourites.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. All of your photos are gorgeous, but I especially love the so-dubbed “crappy” ones (which are equally beautiful and completely un-crappy!) for the sentimental value they hold. It’s funny how our happiest moments often elude photo capture–maybe that’s why I find myself drawn to that one in particular. Love the story behind your lunch and the sentiment that accompanies it. Sevilla looks beautiful; what an incredible gap year experience for your son! Here’s hoping the sun finds you soon!

    Liked by 1 person

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