Plaza de España#5 in Best Things To Do in Seville
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Originally built for Seville's Ibero-American Expo at the 1929 World's Fair, the Plaza de España offers one of the most picturesque panoramas in the city. The 540,000-square-foot Plaza de España includes a giant, neo-Moorish building (spanning more than half of the site's perimeter) and an expansive mosaic patio with a canal, a fountain and four foot bridges. Architect Aníbal González, built the site to highlight Spain's technological and artistic achievements for the world. The detailed artwork built into the Plaza de España's design helps it standout as an architectural tour de force.
Today, the building houses several government offices, so indoor access is off-limits to tourists. But the site's beauty is best observed from outside the building. On the Plaza de España grounds, you'll find brightly colored ceramic tiles covering nearly the entire plaza, towering marble columns and intricate murals, which are worth witnessing up close. Plenty of filmmakers agree: Plaza de España has been the backdrop for scenes in movies like "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace." Pay close attention to the plaza's 48 painted benches: Each bench depicts important symbols and themes from one of Spain's provinces. Or admire the marble fountain and mosaic floor while enjoying Seville's lively outdoor crowds. For a more unique perspective, rent a rowboat for a trip on the small canal that runs in and around the plaza – a 35-minute rental costs 6 euros (about $7).
Plaza de España sits along the tourist-friendly Avenida de Isabel La Católica just south of El Arenal. Since the plaza is adjacent to Parque María Luisa, plan time to see both sights in the same outing. You can enjoy the plaza for free at any time of day.
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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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