Seville is one of my favourite Spanish cites! You can’t go wrong with the weather, the tapas and of course, the awe inspiring architecture. One thing that you absolutely have to book is the Seville Alcazar and cathedral tour – do NOT go to Seville and miss this! Today, I’m going to show you why. All the photography is original in this blog from my trip in 2023 and I will also be sharing with you my top tips on doing the Royal Alcazar tour combined with the Cathedral and Giralda tower.
Planning your Trip to Seville
It’s really important that you book for the Seville Alcazar at the right time of year. Go in the winter and the weather may be slightly dismal. But book in July and August and you will be sweltering in the heat. I recommend going between March and May.
I was there over Easter and this was the perfect time to go with fantastic weather (warm but not too hot) and we could combine our visit with seeing some of the easter processions for Holy Week (Semana Santa in Spanish). However, for many people, Semana Santa in Seville is a bit ‘MUCH’! They find the business and high number of processions a little overwhelming. If religious processions is not your thing or if you don’t like big crowds then avoid Holy Week in Spain.
Planning and Booking your Seville Alcazar and Cathedral tour
One word of warning – book your Seville Alcazar and Cathedral tour EARLY because it may sell out. When I was there it was booking up 5 days in advance, but I had heard from other travellers that sometimes it’s booked 2 weeks in advance and some people who were there for just 3 days without a reservation were very disappointed to miss it.
The same goes for other popular tourist sites in Andalucia – if you want to see the Mezquita (Mosque) in Cordoba and the Alhambra palace in Grenada these will also need to be booked in advance.
You don’t have to book a guided tour, but I recommend it because you are likely to skip some of the lines and also you will find out a lot more about the history and architecture if you book with a tour guide. I would recommend that you book a guided tour that combines Royal Alcazar with the Cathedral and Giralda (tower) so that you get to see and learn about all three sites in one tour.
I booked this Alcazar, Giralda and Cathedral tour through Get Your Guide. The tour will take approximately 3 to 3 and a half hours and is well worth the money. It also works out a bit cheaper to get a combined ticket than to pay for all these attractions separately.
If you just want to book entrance to the Royal Alcazar you can book it here.
Travel Tips for the Royal Alcazar and Seville Cathedral
My top tips for doing the Royal Alcazar and Seville Cathedral tour are as follows…
- Book your ticket at least 1-2 weeks in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Book a guided tour that includes Giralda tower if your budget can stretch to it.
- Arrive at your pick up or meet spot at least 15 minutes ahead of time to make sure that you find your guide and check in.
- Take your passport ID with you – it is not possible to gain entry to these monuments in Spain without having your ID verified. If you don’t take it, they may not let you in.
- Take plenty of water because it can get really hot in this part of Spain, especially in the summer months
- Take an early lunch around 12.30 before you join the 1.30pm tour – it’s a long tour and you don’t want to be hungry half way through.
- Seville Cathedral is a religious building so you will need to dress conservatively – cover your arms and legs and don’t have too much flesh on display.
- Baseball caps and other hats are not allowed inside the religious buildings.
- If you are looking for a good guidebook to these buildings and also great tips for travel in the surrounding areas, I recommend the Lonely Planet guide to Andalucia.
Visiting the Royal Alcazar in Seville
The Royal Alcazar in Seville is an impressive palace complex that is steeped in history and is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Andalusian region of Spain. The Alcazar was originally built as a Moorish fortress in the 10th century, but it has since been expanded and renovated over the centuries, resulting in a stunning blend of Moorish, Gothic, and Renaissance architectural styles.
The palace itself is a captivating blend of gardens, courtyards, halls, and chambers. It served as a royal residence for many Spanish monarchs throughout history. The interior of the palace is equally impressive, featuring lavish decorations, stunning tile work, and beautiful gardens.
I’m going to say something quite contraversial – I actually preferred the Royal Alcazar of Seville to the Alhambra Palace. It was on a smaller scale, but many sections of the tile work and architecture were better preserved.
Entering through Lion’s Gate
Enter through Puerta del Leon (Lion’s Gate) – so called due to the beautiful tiles above the archway. The lion holds the royal coat of arms of Castile and León, symbolising the power and authority of King Peter I. You will then cross the 12th century walls to go inside the Royal Alcázar of Seville.
Peter I Palace Facade
You will then walk through the 12th Century Arches (pictured above) to the Peter I Palace Facade. The Peter I Palace Facade, or Fachada del Palacio de Pedro I in Spanish, is a prominent feature of the Alcázar. It is named after King Peter I of Castile, who initiated the construction of the palace in the 14th century. The facade is known for its intricate decorative details and architectural elements, showcasing the Mudéjar style that was prevalent during that period.
It is characterised by a combination of Islamic and Christian architectural influences. It features delicate plasterwork, geometric patterns, and ornate carvings. The facade is adorned with beautiful arches, columns, and intricate ceramic tiles known as azulejos, which are traditional to Andalusian architecture.
Garden of the Maidens
The palace complex is surrounded by beautiful gardens, including the stunning Garden of the Maidens, which is filled with fountains, orange trees, and exotic plants. Visitors can stroll through the gardens and admire the intricate tile work and decorative features that make the Alcazar such a unique and enchanting destination.
Salon de los Embajadores
Inside the palace, visitors will find a series of opulent rooms and chambers that are filled with beautiful artwork, intricate carvings, and luxurious furnishings. One of the most impressive rooms is the Salon de los Embajadores, which features a stunning dome ceiling and intricate tilework.
The Royal Alcazar has played an important role in Spanish history, having served as the residence of numerous kings and queens over the centuries. Visitors can learn about the palace’s fascinating history through exhibits and guided tours, which are available (in English as well as Spanish).
My Seville Cathedral Tour: A Must-Visit Landmark in Spain
If you’re planning a trip to Spain, Seville Cathedral should definitely be on your list of places to visit. This breathtaking cathedral is not only a historical landmark but also an architectural masterpiece.
The Largest Gothic Cathedral in the World
As soon as you enter the cathedral, you’ll be struck by its sheer size and grandeur. It is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and was built on the site of a former mosque. The cathedral took over a century to build and was completed in the early 16th century. Its construction involved the work of some of the most prominent architects of the time.
Capilla Mayor – The Main Altar
A must-see feature of the cathedral is the Capilla Mayor, the main altar. This ornate altar is made of gilded wood and features intricate carvings and statues. It is truly a work of art and one of the most impressive features of the cathedral.
In addition to the Capilla Mayor, the cathedral is home to many other works of art and relics. The Sacristy is home to a collection of paintings by some of Spain’s most famous artists, including Goya and Murillo.
If you’re interested in history, the cathedral’s Chapter House is a must-see. This room was once used by the cathedral’s chapter for meetings and features beautiful Renaissance-era frescoes on the ceiling.
Overall, Seville Cathedral is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Spain. Its grandeur and historical significance make it one of the most impressive landmarks in the country. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore all the cathedral has to offer, as there is so much to see and appreciate. If you are exploring independently, allow at least one hour and two if you intend to climb the Giralda.
7 Interesting Facts about Seville Cathedral
- Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, with a height of 42 meters and a length of 116 meters.
- It was built on the site of a former mosque, which was demolished to make way for the cathedral after the Christian conquest of Seville in 1248.
- The cathedral’s bell tower, known as La Giralda, was originally built as a minaret for the mosque and was converted into a bell tower during the construction of the cathedral. It stands at 104 meters tall and is one of the most recognizable symbols of Seville.
- The cathedral houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus, who is believed to have been buried in the cathedral’s main chapel in 1506. The tomb is an ornate monument made of bronze and marble.
- The cathedral’s nave is supported by 80 pillars, each of which is decorated with intricate carvings and artwork. The ceiling is also adorned with beautiful paintings and sculptures.
- One of the most impressive features of the cathedral is its magnificent stained glass windows, which date back to the 15th century and feature intricate designs and colors.
- In 1987, Seville Cathedral was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its cultural significance and architectural beauty.
Visiting Giralda Tower
One of the highlights of the cathedral is the Giralda Tower. This tower was originally built as a minaret for the mosque that once stood on the site. It was later converted into a bell tower and is now one of the most recognizable landmarks in Seville.
You can climb to the top of the tower for some stunning views of the city – be prepared for 35 sloping floors (which are thankfully easier to climb than had it been steps). The ease of climbing the Giralda was a necessity, as back in the day when it was a Mosque the Muezzin would have had to climb 5 times a day to announce the call to prayer.
You will need a tower ticket to climb the Giralda.
Further Reading on Seville and other Destinations in Spain
If you are looking for something else to do after your Seville Alcazar and Cathedral tour then why not consider a self-guided tour of the Santa Cruz Quarter Seville? This is the old Jewish Quarter steeped in history and full of traditional fountains, tiled seating areas and beautiful architecture. It’s also a great place to grab some tapas! There are also some fantastic day trips from Sevilla including Carmona and Osuna.
If you are visiting Spain, you might also enjoy the following articles…
- Backpacking Spain – Top Travel Tips
- Highlights of Andalucia
- Taking a Girona day trip from Barcelona
- Things to do in Barcelona at Night