Seville – the sights: part 1

by Karisa

I’m a bit of a water baby, so when I decided to head out for some major sightseeing in Seville, no wonder then that I ended up heading straight to the water side first…  and by water side, I’m referring to the Guadalquivir river which runs through the city.

I didn’t really look at the city map in too much detail, I just knew what general direction I needed to head out in, so I set off, doing some slow street roaming along the way.  I guess it’s not really too surprising that I ended up on the “wrong side” of the water side.  I’m gonna call this area: the ghetto bridge

DSC01485 DSC01488It smelt a little like urine, there were some sketchy characters hanging around, and I’m guessing it wouldn’t be such a great idea to be walking around there, camera in hand, at night.

BUT, I really did love all the great graffiti:


So maybe that’s why the universe (or my lack of a sense of direction) decided to guide me there…

A short walk further along Calle de Arjona then got me to the “tourist friendly” bridge, the Puente de Isabel II (also known as Puente de Triana), where things were simply as pretty as a postcard:

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Aaaah, now this was the Seville I was hearing and reading about…

This area leads you directly to one of Seville’s most prominent landmarks, the Torre del Oro, which was built back in the 13th century to protect the port:

DSC01514DSC01516 DSC01517Today there’s a little maritime museum inside.  So if that’s your thing, do check it out.  I decided to give that a skip, because I had already spotted what was right across the street…  Seville’s Baroque style bullfighting ring, the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza.



The dude on the right is one of Seville’s most famous bullfighters (or matadors)

This bullring is actually one of the oldest in Spain and is still actively used today.  Bullfighting season is from October to April where there’s a bullfight every Sunday and on public holidays, however they also do special showcase events during the months in between.  Tickets range from 20 to 150 euros, depending on where you sit, and there’s even a special booth for Spain’s royal family, who from what I hear, do attend from time to time.

Now before we proceed, I’m gonna just say:  I do not support any activity in which animals are killed for fun or sport.  I just don’t.  I find it incredibly cruel & a very dated custom.  For this reason, I didn’t actively pursue actually watching a bullfight while I was there.  But I will admit I was intrigued by all the history and customs behind this age old-sport.  Therefore I decided to at least check out the guided tour.

The tour costs 14 euros per person and it’s the only way you get inside.  You can’t just roam around by yourself.  I usually HATE guided tours.  They usually wedge you in with tons of other tourists and it always takes sooooo long.  But in this instance, they actually gave us quite a lot of interesting behind the scenes info.  So I was glad I was forced into it.

We started things off in the main arena:

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This is where the king and the rest of the royal family sits if they attend. Otherwise it stays empty…

Something I learnt here (which was a total surprise to me) is that no bull can ever leave the ring alive.  Not even if they kill the bullfighter… I think that’s crazy!  Surely if the bull kicks some serious ass, it’s won its freedom??  Anyways.  A bullfight usually involves 6 bulls and 3 bullfighters.  Each bullfighter has to kill 2 bulls and they have 20min each to do it in.  If a bullfighter is killed, one of the other fighters need to step in and kill that fighter’s bull.  Our tour guide said there’s only been like 2 bulls in the history of this arena (which dates back to the 18th century) which had ever received a pardon and was allowed to leave the ring alive. Well high freakin’ fives to those bulls I say.

We were then taken back down to the various rooms around the bullring.  Part of it houses a little museum which shows you the outfits and customs from throughout the ages.  Oh and a whole lot of stuffed bull heads (quite creepy, yes).



Top left: There’s always a band which plays during a bullfight. If the fighter is good – he gets some tunes.  If he is not – he gets dead silence.  Hows that for pressure hey?  The other pics show games the men used to play to practice their precision with those spear things.  On horseback they’d have to either hit those fake human heads (again – creepy, yes) or hit the hoop handing from that bronze eagle’s beak…


Some old bullfighting posters and bullfighting gear… oh and more stuffed bull heads, of course.

The last stop was the horse stables.  They use horses in the bullfight, because the aim is to first injure the bull with a long spear.  Then the bullfighter gets off and gets closer to the bull with the aim to deliver the final kill with a sword.  A single sword thrust is said to be the aim.

But another disturbing factoid we picked up here was that back in the day, the horses used during a bullfight didn’t wear any protective stuff.  Because of this they would lose on average about 20 horses during one fight.  20 horses!!  That was very disturbing to hear. Today they wear a lot of protective gear and they rarely lose any, so at least that’s a step in the right direction.  But still.  Can’t they just be left out of all this craziness?


Bottom right: There’s also a prayer room for the bullfighters. They also get paid upfront, next door to the prayer room. Just in case they don’t make it out alive.

But ja… it was all very interesting to see, but I still wouldn’t ever sit through an actual bullfight.  (If I did, I think you know which side I’d be rooting for)  I personally think that like with the Spanish Inquisition, this is something that should be spoken about in history books only, not actively practiced today.

Next up on my sightseeing trail was at least something a little more “heavenly” – Seville’s massive Cathedral and its La Giralda bell tower:



Surrounded by beautiful squares, filled with horse carriages, old fountains and statues and lots of little cafes, this whole area is definitely a must see.  Even if you just do some general strolling…DSC01628

But back to the Cathedral, it really is massive.  It is in fact the largest Gothic Cathedral as well as the 3rd largest church in the world.  Yes that’s right, the world people.  So do make sure you set aside enough time to take it all in.cathedral1

It’s 8 euros to get inside, but it’s well worth it.  This church has so many different rooms and areas to explore.  And it’s incredibly beautiful.

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You can also climb the tower (about 30 odd floors – can’t remember exactly now) to get some amazing views over the city:

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You also get a bird’s eye view of the pretty garden courtyard at the back of the cathedral:DSC01702Which looks like this up close:

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Like I said, an incredibly beautiful church and a must see…

I’m gonna stop there, my Spain “happy place” is up next.  But there’s quite a lot to take in with this post already, so I figured it would be best to split it out.  That way I also don’t have to edit my photos down for the next spot as much.  It’s a goodie, so I really didn’t want to leave anything out.


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