Some of the best destinations in Seville, Spain.
Since opening in 2011, the opinion-dividing Metropol Parasol, known locally as las setas (the mushrooms), has become something of a city icon. Designed as a giant sunshade by German architect Jürgen Mayer-Hermann, it’s said to be the world’s largest wooden structure, and it’s certainly a formidable sight with its 30m-high mushroom-like pillars and undulating honeycombed roof. Lifts run up from the basement to the top where you can enjoy killer city views from a winding walkway.
The building, six years in the making, covers a former dead zone in Seville’s central district once filled with an ugly car park. Roman ruins discovered during its construction have been cleverly incorporated into its foundations and are now on show at the Museo Antiquarium in the basement below the plaza. The structure also houses the local neighbourhood market, a panoramic cafe and a concert space.
Parque de María Luisa
A delightful oasis of green, the extensive Parque de María Luisa is a lovely place to escape the noise of the city, with duck ponds, snoozing sevillanos and shady paths snaking under the trees.
If you’d rather continue your cultural exploration than commune with the flowers, the park contains several notable drawcards. Chief among them is Plaza de España, the most extravagant of the building projects completed for the 1929 Exposición Iberoamericana. A vast, brick-and-tile confection, it features fountains, mini-canals, and a series of gaudy tile pictures depicting historical scenes from each Spanish province. You can hire row boats to pootle around the canals for €6 (for 35 minutes).
In the south of the park, the Museo Arqueológico boasts some wonderful Roman sculptures, mosaics and statues – many gathered from the nearby site of Itálica.
Opposite is the Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares, dedicated to local customs, costumes and traditions.
The park is a great place for children to let off steam and families to bond over a bike ride – four-person quad bikes are available to hire for €12 per half-hour.
Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes
This gem of a museum, housed in a former hospice for ageing priests, is one of Seville’s most rewarding. The artistic highlight is the Focus-Abengoa Foundation’s collection of 17th-century paintings in the Centro Velázquez. It’s not a big collection but each work is a masterpiece of its genre – highlights include Diego Velázquez’ Santa Rufina, his Inmaculada Concepción, and a sharply vivid portrait of Santa Catalina by Bartolomé Murillo.
Elsewhere, you can admire the Hospital’s ornately decorated chapel and delightful patio – a classic composition of porticoes, ceramic tiles and orange trees arranged around a sunken fountain.
To be continued…
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