There’s much more to the capital of Andalusia than flamenco and oranges… here’s how to spend 72 hours in Seville on a budget.
When Star Wars creator George Lucas needed a location to double as the most beautiful planet in the universe he turned to Seville.
The spectacular mixture of Spanish and Arabic architecture made the semicircular Plaza de Espana the perfect setting as Naboo in Episode II: Attack Of The Clones.
Completed in 1929, its 80m towers, curved colonnades, ceramic bridges, colourful benches, boating channel and fountain combine to create a feast for the eyes.
The plaza was designed by Anibal Gonzalez and forms part of the extensive Parque Maria Luisa, which boasts another glorious Gonzalez building, the Mudjar Pavilion.
Return at night to see both of his creations brilliantly lit.
Adjacent to the park is the former 18th century Royal Tobacco Factory where three quarters of Europe’s cigars were once rolled on the thighs of the woman workers.
The factory was the inspiration for the story of Carmen, turned into an opera by Bizet.
Plaza de Espana
Spend the whole day at the Real Alcazar, which has been a royal palace since 1394 and is still used by the Spanish monarchy.
The design of the oldest part of the palace is mainly Arabic with courtyards of complex plasterwork, patios of horseshoe arches and domes of dazzling gold.
Successive kings added extensions in gothic and baroque styles and laid out gardens with ponds, fountains, a labyrinth and an abundance of orange trees.
In the evening, wander the warren of whitewashed alleys and the tapas bars of the medieval Santa Cruz district, chancing upon hidden plazas.
Seville’s 15th Century gothic cathedral, raised on the ruins of a mosque, was the world’s largest until St Paul’s in London and St Peter’s in Rome were built.
The exquisite minaret of the mosque was saved and converted into a bell tower in the most harmonious blend of Islamic and Christian architecture.
Inside the tower are ramps so that the mosque’s first muezzin – an old man – could ride horseback to the top in order to call the faithful to prayer.
Moving on, you’ll have time for some shopping in traffic-free Snake Street or a walk along the Guadalquivir River before the 9pm flight home.
Cathedal bell tower
We stayed at the 2-star Murillo Hotel in the Santa Cruz district for three nights in late February. It’s just a three-minute walk from the Cathedral and the Real Alcazar. The hotel has been completely renovated and our total cost, booking through hotels.com, was £111 including breakfast (served in a former flamenco bar). Ryanair has flights to Seville from Liverpool on Fridays and Mondays and daily from Stansted. Our flights cost £76 for two.