Real Alcázar#1 in Best Things To Do in Seville
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.
You'll find the entrance to the Real Alcázar in the El Centro neighborhood near the Catedral. From October to March, visitors can enter the palace from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; from April to September, entrance is available until 7 p.m. General admission into the Real Alcázar costs 12.50 euros (about $14), but students ages 17 to 25 can enter for 4 euros (about $4.50) and children younger than 16 get in for free. Audio-guided tours are available for an additional 6 euros (about $7) and can be reserved online. For more information, visit the Real Alcázar's website.
If you can't get enough of the royal aesthetic, visit Seville's other – albeit smaller – palace, the Casa de Pilatos in Barrio Santa Cruz. This 15th-century palace of Gothic and Renaissance design offers magnificent mosaic staircases and sun-drenched gardens and patios. You can learn more about the historic site – including hours and admission fee details – on Casa de Pilatos' website.
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#2 Parque de María Luisa
If you're in search of green space, you won't be disappointed – Seville's got plenty. But the most notable of the city's parks is Parque de María Luisa, located next to the Plaza de España. Like the plaza, this park was largely built for exhibition at the 1929 World's Fair and has remained one of Seville's most popular sites since. You can take a stroll, ride a bicycle or be pulled by horse-drawn carriage through the gardens designed by French landscape architect Nicolas Forestier. You'll also find several notable buildings and museums within the park. The Costurero de la Reina (or the Queen's Sewing Box) is a 19th century castle-like structure and former sewing retreat for the wife of Spain's King Alfonso XII. The Pabellón Mudéjar is home to the Museum of Arts and Traditions of Seville. And the Pabellón del Renacimiento houses the Archeological Museum of Seville.
With so much to see and plenty of orange trees for shade, exploring the park may take up a big chunk of your day. The park is an ideal place for people-watching and soaking up the sun, and previous visitors recommended spending at least an hour exploring its various sights.
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