Visit Seville- El Arenal
Seville's El Arenal quarter runs along the edge of the river Guadalquivir and used to be home to the Port of Seville. Now it is a quieter district than Santa Cruz and with less monuments but it is home to the wonderfull Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, Seville's bullring.
Exploring the El Arenal quarter
With views along the river and the lovely white and gold bullring the El Arenal district is another lovely part of Seville. Take a walk along the riverside and enjoy views of the Torre del Oro and the Triana district on the other side of the river.
The Torre del Oro
This 13th century tower is an unusual 12-sided building built by the Almohad dynasty to protect the port. The circular top-level was added in the 18th century.
Originally a chain from the tower was linked to a fort on the other side of the river and this prevented enemy ships from invading the port. When the Christian's retook the city from the Moors in the 13th century they had to break the chain to allow their ships to enter.
The tower was later used as a gold store, hence its name (oro = gold), for gold brought back from the Americas. Another possible reason for its name is the golden reflection it has in the river below.
You can enter the tower and visit the small maritime museum and climb to the top for some good views along the river and across to the Triana district. Visits to the tower are 3 euros but free on Mondays.
The Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza
Of course Seville is home to both flamenco and bullfights and the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza is Seville's beautifull bullring. It is one of the oldest bullrings in Spain and along with Ronda is considered to be the home of bullfighting.
The bullring is a large oval-shaped building with a Baroque facade. It is whitewashed and has attractive yellow/gold painted details and the upper storey is ringed by arches.
It is possible to take a tour of the inside and see the arena which seats 14000 people. The tour also visits the bullring's museum which details the history of bullfighting in Spain and there are costumes and photos and other items relating to bullfighting.
From the street called Arfe try and find the entrance to the Plaza de Cabildo. This is a small and secluded semi-circular square entirely surrounded by buildings. You can buy cookies baked by nuns from a little shop called El Torno. The little plaza is so quiet its hard to believe its in the middle of a bustling city.
The Hospital de la Caridad has a pretty Baroque facade. It was founded by Don Miguel de Manara, on whom the famous Don Juan character is based. Following a vision of himself as a corpse Don Miguel repented his profligate lifestyle and joined the Brotherhood of Charity (a religious body who buried criminals and vagrants who had no-one else to bury them).
He founded the Hospital de la Caridad to take care of the poor and the sick. Inside the hospital are a series of paintings by Murillo that Don Miguel commissioned. One of these is a particularly repulsive picture of a dead bishop being eaten by worms!
Taking a walk along the Guadalquivir is very pleasant. Enjoy the views of the Triana district on the other side of the river. There are boat trips that you can take starting at the Torre del Oro.
If you are hoping to enjoy some flamenco whilst in Seville then the 'Tablao El Arenal' near to the bullring is a one possibility. There are two sessions each evening, one at 8pm and one at 10pm, each lasting about 1h30 minutes.
If you are inspired by the lovely flamenco dresses you will find lots of shops selling them in the Centro district to the east of El Arenal.
The eastern edge of the El Arenal district is bordered by the busy and beautiful Avda de la Constitucion, a wide avenue with some beautiful buildings and some of Seville's main shops including fnac with its facade hung with large black and white photos depicting Seville life. On the other side of the avenue is the Centro district with the cathedral and Alcazar.
A little further out from here to the north is the Museo de Bellas Artes, Seville's great art gallery and one of the best in Spain. It is housed in a converted convent whose church has a fine Baroque ceiling. The museum contains many paintings of the 'Seville School' artists including works by Bartolome Esteban Murillo. His famous 'La Servilleta', so named because it is thought to be painted on a napkin, is on display as is 'the Immaculate Concetion'. There are also paintings by Ribera and Zurbaran and Goya.
Also in Seville
If you want to see another historic bullring the beautiful town of Ronda makes for a great overnight trip from Seville and is home to another of Spain's historic bullrings.