Seville is a stunningly beautiful city. From the ground, especially in the Santa Cruz barrio, the tangle of streets and narrow lanes going in all directions makes for visual drama the likes of which I haven’t seen on my travels to date. All those tight streets, though protection against the searing heat of southern Spanish summers, can leave you with a closed in perspective on the city. To get above it, for a wider lens view of Seville, you have two primary choices – the Metropol Parasol, and for my money, the superior views from La Giralda, the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral.
After touring the cathedral on an on and off rainy afternoon, we scaled the tower just as some ominous clouds were approaching the city. From about half way up the tower we could see there were only a few minutes until another downpour:
A few minutes later, from the top of La Giralda, the rain had covered the city, sending most people on the streets seeking shelter in coffee shops and under awnings. For our first few days in Seville, we became adept at finding a hiding spot just as the torrential rains would start. From the shelter of the tower, we had no such worries, just a wonderful and dramatic view of the weather closing in.
The darker clouds and the rain made the view even more spectacular. The colours of the buildings looked so much more vibrant against the dark grey sky. This view is looking north from the tower – you’ll be able to see both the Inglesia del Salvador and the Metropol Parasol near the middle of the frame:
Turning to look west, one of the most prominent features is the Plaza de Toros. From this height, you can see how tightly wedged it is into the city. Just on the other side of the bullring is the Guadalquivir river that divides the city into its older (Santa Cruz) and newer neighbourhoods.
Out to the south, there are the twin spires at the Plaza de España (left of the frame) and, if you look really closely, just to the right of the spires is the Estadio Benito Villamarín, the home stadium of football club Real Betis, a place I would visit later that same night:
Looking directly down from the tower gave equally beautiful views. In this one, you can see the horse drawn carriages lined up in one of the plazas just beyond the walls of the cathedral:
After we left the tower, we would make our way into the inner courtyard of the cathedral – the Patio de los Naranjos located just inside the Door of Pardon.
From La Giralda, you gain a perspective on the size of the Seville Cathedral. Walking around inside, you know it’s big. But from up here, you get a better feel for its layout and scope. Seville Cathedral is the third largest church in the world (behind St. Peter’s in Rome and the Basilica in Aparecidia, Brazil) and is the world’s largest gothic cathedral.
From the tower, I enjoyed looking out of one of the windows overlooking the spires and domes that loom large over the streets below.
My favourite view from the tower was looking straight down to the Plaza del Triunfo and to its fountain, the horses, and the people milling around.
For me, visiting La Giralda was one of the unmissible things in Seville and I loved the hour we spent looking out over one of my new favourite cities in the world.