It’s well known that Seville has the largest preserved old centre in Europe, and that this is part of what gives the city its unique charm and fascination. It’s less well known that its different neighbourhoods (barrios) all have their own special character too.
El Centro, the Centre, is the commercial heart of the city around the famous pedestrianised shopping streets of Sierpes and Tetuan, and the four squares – Plaza del Duque and Campana at their north end, and Plazas Nueva and San Francisco at the south. It’s the most modernised part of the city (this isn’t all bad – have a look at the Metropol Parasol, Seville’s newest iconic building), but still includes El Salvador church, the City Hall and the Fine Arts Museum among many other fine buildings.
The Barrio Santa Cruz is famous for the picturesque squares and narrow streets that once made up the Jewish quarter of the city. The modern neighbourhood also includes the main monumental area, with the Alcázar Royal Palace, The Archive of the Indies, and the Cathedral and the Giralda tower. For the best views of the Santa Cruz and Arenal climb to the top of the Giralda tower.
El Arenal, is the area between the Avenida de la Constitución and the river, and gets its name from the Maestranza bullring – or more exactly from the yellow sand in the arena (arena is Spanish for sand). Less touristy than its neighbour it still boasts some impressive monuments, such as the Torre del Oro (Gold Tower) and the Ataranazas, the mediaeval shipyards, as well as a pleasant riverside walk. There are lots of very good tapas bars, too.
San Vicente is the residential neighbourhood between the Guadalquivir River and the Alameda de Hercules, which is the largest open space in the old centre and one of its main nightspots. The area also includes a number of monasteries and convents and the famous Basilica del Gran Poder.
La Macarena is the least touristy part of the city, and is regarded by many as its most authentic neighbourhood, and most representative of the lives of ordinary Sevillanos. Visit calle Feria and its market for a taste. Also go and see the Macarena Basilica, and the gate and old walls of the city.
Although not technically part of the historic centre, the neighbourhood of Triana, on the right bank of the river, is almost as old, and was once the sailors’ and gypsy quarter. It’s the traditional home of ceramics and flamenco in the city, and many famous performers and bullfighters were born there. Calle Betis has lots of bars and nightclubs, and a great view across the river to the centre.
You can search for a holiday apartment by neighbourhood on veoapartment.com where you will find a short video showing the essence of each barrio, a list of things to see and do and some recommendations for tapas bars in the area. All of our apartments are within easy walking distance of the important monuments, as the historic centre of Seville is comparatively small – so the choice of neighbourhood is more a question of personal preference as to the kind of surroundings you’d like to enjoy during your stay.