The Borges method (city and feet) can be adapted to your own taste. The fleet of City Sightseeing buses, with a stop by the Torre del Oro, offers its tourist routes through a good part of the city and is a practical way to give yourself an idea of all that Seville has to offer.
Another way to get to know the reality of the city better is via the river, by getting a boat to one of the marshlands situated in its basin. A renowned painting of Sánchez Coello shows what Seville was like in the sixteenth century. Along the docks by the Torre del Oro the Galleons from the Indies fleet put in. Seville was formerly the port for and the gate to the New World, and the point of departure and arrival for the greatest naval feat in history.
Beside the river and the old docks, right in the heart of the barrio of the Arenal, stands the Maestranza bullring, which no visitor must miss. From the outside the bullring doesn’t offer the expected circular façade typical of the coliseums of bullfighting. Its unique and authentic architecture shares its rear terraces with private houses.
On the other bank, can be seen the former poor barrio of Triana. The Isabel II bridge, known by the locals as the Triana bridge, leads right into this working-class barrio. You can go there in search of its twisting little streets, the old ‘corralones de vecinos’, communities of neighbours, built around a central patio and the The Royal Parish of the Lady Santa Ana in Calle Pureza, the Capilla de los Marineros (Chapel of the Sailors) where the image of Esperanza de Triana can be found, as well as Calle Betis. Another option is to visit the other Triana by heading along Calle Castilla.
Puente de Triana
Set off from the Castillo de San Jorge (headquarters of the Inquisition for more than three centuries) and walk until the skyscraper Torre Pelli hoves into view. At the end of Calle Castilla, is the Basílica del Stmo. Cristo de la Expiración, which is the home of the image of the Cristo de la Expiración, popularly known as el Cachorro.
Leaving the river, behind the Maestranza Theatre, there is the Hospital de la Santa Caridad. For centuries it gave protection to the poor and needy. In the presbytery of the church stands the crypt of its founder Don Miguel Mañara. There you can read the words, «Here lie the bones and ashes of the worst man the world has known. Pray for him».
In the Seville of light and colour, Mañara personified, by means of the paintings of final stages of the life of Valdés Leal, a gloomy and baroque sense of death. Only a few steps away is the historic epicentre of the city, the cathedral and the Giralda, the Archivo de Indias and the Reales Alcazares.
All can be seen through the eyes of the present as well as the eyes of the past (Past View offers unique glasses that explain the history of the monuments). The Giralda unites two distinct styles: the Islamic almohad (the main part of the tower) and the Christian renaissance (the bell tower).
Cathedral and Giralda
From the Giralda you can look down on the whole city. The flatness of the city can surprise, with its absence of hills and mountains. The Reales Alcázares conjure up the spirit of the Islamic era. After the Christian re-conquest of the city (1248), the group of palaces would develop by adopting their current appearance of royal dwellings and palatial rooms. Gardens and fountains help make up its own well-stocked garden.
Next to the Reales Alcázares is the Archivo General de Indias. Its trove of documents from the colonial period is impressive. The headquarters of the Archivo was opened here in the rooms of the former Casa Lonja de Mercaderes (Merchant’s Market).
The area around the Lonja served as scenic backdrop for the picaresque Spanish life of the time, particularly, that in Seville. The welcoming streets of the barrio of Santa Cruz wait for the visitor. More than for just the picturesque, Santa Cruz is a place you need to visit while paying special attention to unseen details. A palace house of the sixteenth century, managed by Aire de Sevilla, offers relaxing Arab baths.
Another possibility is to head for the Ayuntamiento (City Hall) and walk along the sinuous, central street of Calle Sierpes. At the start of the street, a tiled sign reminds us of the site of the old Royal Jail. Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra (immortal author of ´Don Quijote’), was once a prisoner there.
Nearby is the Iglesia Colegial del Divino Salvador, a magnificent building which offers guided tours to visitors. On sunny days the square in front of it is thronged with people. In the early afternoon (from about two o’clock) the fun starts, and people meet to drink, talk and flirt. This is the ideal moment to begin to visit some of the bars and restaurants in this guide and try a glass of chilled Barbadillo, accompanied by a delicious tapa.