Plaza de España and Parque de María Luisa
Seville can get pretty hot most days of the year. It’s tempting on such days to hole up in a tapas bar, drinking cava, but there are other ways to experience the city and stay cool! A trip down to Plaza España and María Luisa Park is one such. Stroll beside the canal of Plaza de España, or walk under the shade of trees in the park, you’ll stay cool while still getting to explore Seville.
Plaza de España
Plaza de España is one of the must sees while you are in Seville. It’s a twenty minute walk from the old town, located inside the María Luisa Park. It was built for the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929, the same year as the World Fair in Barcelona. Although smaller in scale, the fair in Seville did not lack style.
The effort taken to host the fair can be clearly see in the Plaza today. The main building is grand, sporting spacious and elegantly decorated corridors. It is fronted by a large moat crossed with bridges.
The style is revival Mudéjar – although Islamic art was always appreciated in Andalusia, Mudéjar style enjoyed a revival in the mid-nineteenth century, when Western Europe became fascinated with all things Oriental.
I was surprised to find out that Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (Episode II), was filmed here. It’s the scene when Anakin first visits Padmé Amidala on her home planet of Naboo. That scene is well worth watching to get a sense of just how grand and beautiful this place is.
Tip: Where to watch Flamenco in Seville
There are a number of places in Seville to watch Flamenco, but we didn’t go to any of them. Instead, we chanced upon some dancers performing in Plaza de España. I throughly enjoyed the show – the dancers and musicians are skilled and the setting is unparalleled. If you’re pressed for time and Flamenco is on your list, try Plaza de España. The stage, backdropped by the curving brick walls and Reniassance revival pillars (i.e. faux Roman pillars) is the perfect place to watch Flamenco.
In the summer, the moat is filled with little boats which you can rent. We highly recommend taking along a little chilled bottle of wine on your visit. Wouldn’t it be nice to end your visit watching the sunset from the boat, with a glass of Rioja in hand?
Parque de María Luisa
After you finish touring Plaza España, it’s time to walk through the shaded avenues of the María Luisa Park. The architect who designed it was French, and was also charged with landscaping the promenades of Paris. Walking into Parque de María Luisa, I did feel as if I was entering one of the parks in Paris. It didn’t have any square trees, but there was something about the layout and ornamentation that hinted at it.
Although the sun was almost setting, it was still nice to take cover in the shade of the trees. The park is large enough that playing children remain a safe distance away and you can enjoy some quiet time with nature. There are also a number of remarkable statues in the park worth contemplating. These statues are literary monuments, dedicated to the works of the poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer.
Plaza de América
Towards the end of the park is a Grand Pavillon, the Plaza de América. There’s a lovely pond in this plaza, filled with water lilies. The pavillon is in some disrepair, and it made me think of the enchanted garden of the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. I think it must be quite lovely after sunset.
In front of the pond is a large, empty area, with a lot of pigeons. The pigeons are in themselves an attraction, mostly because there are some pure white ones that are quite nice to look at. We saw a little girl in a white dress getting the pigeons to eat from her hand and asked her mother if we could take her photo. She was the perfect model for the moment!We saw a little girl in a white dress getting the pigeons to eat from her hand and asked her mother if we could take her photo. She was the perfect model for the moment!
The trip to Plaza de España and María Luisa Park had taken us a good three hours or so. By the time we were done, it was almost Spanish dinner time, and we eagerly headed back into Seville to enjoy the rest of the night.