Barrio Santa Cruz#4 in Best Things To Do in Seville
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Navigating your way through winding footpaths and narrow streets of a centuries-old neighborhood is captivating for any adventurous traveler. Even among Europe's many picturesque neighborhoods, Barrio Santa Cruz stands out for its 15th-century history and its abundance of charming restaurants and shops, not to mention the orange-tree-covered plazas awaiting walkers around each turn. Barrio Santa Cruz served as the city's Jewish quarter prior to the Spanish Inquisition in the late 15th century when Jews were expelled from the country. Evidence of the quarter's former inhabitants remains on Calle Judería (Jewry Street) – an aptly named street near the neighborhood's center. Many of the neighborhood's churches that stand today were originally synagogues.
An added bonus of a visit to this neighborhood (located next to the Real Alcázar) is that the streets are designed to create as much shade as possible, making the Barrio Santa Cruz a great escape from the heat of Seville's scorching summer sun. With plenty of cafes doling out tapas, flamenco bars offering live entertainment, and historic landmarks sitting alongside plazas, it's no wonder the Barrio Santa Cruz is extra popular among visitors. But just because it's tourist-friendly doesn't mean it's a cinch to navigate. Visitors recommend finding a detailed map that includes the neighborhood's many small side streets or using the neighborhood's online guide to explore the area's snaking medieval streets. Other visitors say to ditch the map and simply enjoy getting lost in the beautiful streets.
If you've had enough of the busy streets, retreat to Jardines de Murillo, a picturesque and typically quiet green space that borders the eastern edge of Santa Cruz.
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#1 Real Alcázar
The Spanish monarchy doesn't quite boast the worldwide clout of the British monarchy, but royalty is royalty, right? Take the chance to step into sovereignty when you enter the Real Alcázar palace and gardens. The palace was built in the seventh century and it still occasionally hosts the royal family when they visit Seville. While the original structure dates back to the Middle Ages, the entire palace has been heavily influenced by different architectural and cultural styles, ranging from Gothic to Baroque. The intricate architectural design is known as mudéjar – a Muslim and Christian artistic fusion unique to Andalusia. Explore on your own or use an audio tour to guide you through the luxurious rooms of the palace like the Salón de Embajadores (Hall of Ambassadors) and the Patio de las Doncellas (Patio of the Maidens). But to gain access to the Cuarto Real Alto (the Upper Royal Quarters), you'll need to pay for a guided tour.
Make sure to budget enough time to admire the details. Past visitors recommended examining every aspect of this grand residence of kings – even the architecture on the ceiling is striking. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is surrounded by gardens that are also worth seeing.
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