Torre del Oro#12 in Best Things To Do in Seville
The Guadalquivir River once served as the main waterway to southern Spain and Seville was one of the region's primary ports. Naturally a port with that much influence needed protection from ships trying to enter the claimed territory of the Almohad Dynasty (a 13th century Muslim Caliphate that once ruled northern Africa and southern Spain). The 12-sided Torre del Oro tower — situated on the edge of the Guadalquivir — was once linked by a large chain to its sister structure across the river to stop ships from sailing into the port.
The once gold-tiled tower — which has also served as a military watchtower and a prison — is now home to a small naval museum, the Museo Náutico. The museum highlights the Torre del Oro's maritime past and the role it played in New World imports and discovery. Some travelers were turned off by the nearly 100-step climb to reach the observation deck, but many recent visitors say it's worth the trek. "Be prepared for some climbing and you will not be disappointed," one satisfied TripAdvisor reviewer said.
You can tour the museum and the rest of the building from 9:30 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Saturdays and Sundays the museum doesn't open until 10:30 a.m. Entry into the tower costs €3 EUR (about $4 USD), but it's free on Mondays. The Torre del Oro sits in El Arenal about a mile west of the city center.
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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. Exlpore 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 be on a guided tour.
Make sure to budget enough time to admire the details. One TripAdvisor reviewer suggests: "Be sure to look upwards when you walk through this grand residence of kings, because the workmanship of the carvings and painting on the ceilings is truly amazing." This UNESCO World Heritage site is surrounded by gardens that are also worth seeing.
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