So, you’ve gotten the visa, packed your bags and moved to Seville. The first order of business (after your cervecita and tapita) is looking for a piso and a place to call home while you’re abroad. While living in the center of Seville can mean a long commute or blowing half of your salary on rent, it is undoubtedly one of the most liveable and lively cities in all of Spain.
Choosing a neighborhood that’s right for you is imperative for your experience in Seville. Each has its own feel and character, and not every one is right for you and your needs. Ever walk in a place where you can see yourself – or not? Here’s a guide from a five-year vet to the most popular neighborhoods in Seville’s city center, from what to expect from housing to not-miss bars and barrio celebrations.
photo by Christine Medina, run on Sunshine and Siestas
Seville’s beating heart is the most centric neighborhood, El Centro. Standing high above it is the Giralda tower, the once-minaret that guards the northeast corner of the third-largest Gothic cathedral in the world. This, along with the Alcazar Royal Palace and Archivo de Indias, forms a UNESCO World Heritage Site (whose status was threatened by the controversial Torre Pelli recently). Life buzzes in these parts, from the public meeting point in Puerta Jerez to Plaza Nueva’s Town Hall. Housing costs tend to reflect the fact that you’re smack in the center of it all, hence the apt name.
Not to miss: having a drink at Hotel Dona Maria next to the Cathedral or in Plaza del Salvador, the interior patios of Salvador which was once home to a mosque, the windy Calle de Siete Revueltos, cheap and oversized tapas at Los Coloniales, the fine Museo de Bellas Artes and the art market out front on Sunday mornings, Holy Week processions, having a pastry at La Campana Confiteria, the view from Las Setas.
The traditional Jewish neighborhood of Seville borders the historic Center and oozes charm. That is, if you like Disneyland-like charm. The narrow alleyways are now lined with tourist shops, overpriced bars with lamentable food and hardly a native sevillano in sight. For a first-time tourist, it’s breathtaking, with its flamenco music echoing though the cobbled streets. For the rest of us, it’s to be avoided as much as possible.
Not to miss: chowing down a pringa sandwich at Las Columnas, Las Cruces festival in May, the Jardines de Murillo and its fountains, free entrance for students to the Alcazar and its gardens, Extra Verde’s selection of fine olive oils, the beautiful Virgen del Candelaria church (one of my favorites in all of Seville), having a beer at La Fesquita surrounded by photos of Christ crucified.
The neighborhood, named for its sandy banks on the Guadalquivir, boasts a number of gorgeous chapels, the bullring and the Torre del Oro, as well as the gintoncito crowd sipping on Gin & Tonics at seemingly every hour. Wedged in between the Center and the Guadalquivir River, the houses and apartments here tend to be cramped and overpriced, having belonged to families for years. Still, the neighborhood is lively and the taurino crowd ever-present. This is the place for you if you’re too lazy to walk elsewhere and are attracted by the nightlife, which is as varied as old man bars and discos.
Not to miss: the cafe con leche and tostadas at La Esquina del Arfe, a bullfight at the Maestranza (or at least a view of those trajes along C/Adriano), the churros lady at the old city gate, the tranquility of Plaza El Cabildo and its stamp stores and turnstile sweets, the 4,50 copas at Capone.
Disclaimer: I’m 100% biased that Triana is the best place to live and wish the lure of free rent and hanging with my Novio on a daily basis didn’t take me away from my querido barrio. Trianeros believe that the district west of the Guadalquivir should be its own mini-nation, and with good reason: everything you could need is here.
Once home to the Inquisition Castle (Castillo San Jorge, at the foot of the Triana Bridge) and the poor fisherman and gypsy of Seville, Triana is emblematic of Seville. Quaint homes, tile for miles and churches are Triana’s crown jewels, and it’s become a favorite among foreigners. While it boasts few historic sites, Triana is all about ambiente – walk around and let it seep in, listening to the quick cadence of the feet tapping in its many flamenco schools. Some of the city’s most beloved bars, shops and even pasos are here, and the view from the river-flanked Calle Betis is gorgeous.
Not to miss: Calle Pureza’s temples and hole-in-the-wall bars, slurping down caracoles at Bar Ruperto (or try the fried quail), the Santa Ana festival along Calle Betis in late July, the ceramics shops on Antillano Campos, Las Golodrinas’s punto-pinchi-chipi-champi meal, the afternoon paseo that the trianeros love so dearly.
Triana’s neighbor to the south is Los Remedios, where streets are named for Virgens. The apartments are enormous and suitable for families, so don’t be surprised if you have three other roommates. While there’s not much nightlife, the barrio is located along the city’s fairgrounds and comes alive in April, two weeks after Easter. If you’re looking for private classes, this neighborhood is where a lot of the money is (so ask up!), and the many schools and families mean there’s no shortage of alumnos.
Not to miss: Asuncion’s pedestrian shopping haven, the VIPS boasting American products on Republica Argentina, Parque de los Principes’s lush knolls, the ambience in the surrounding bars during the Feria, Colette’s French pastries.
source: ABC online
My host mother once warned me not to go into the Alameda, convinced I’d be robbed by the neighborhood’s hippies. While dreads and guitars are Alameda staples, the barrio is, in fact, one of the trendiest and most sought after places. By day, families commune on the plaza’s pavement park and fountains. By night, botellones gather around the hip bars and vegetarian restaurants. From the center, it’s a nice ten-minute walk. This does, however, lend to litter and noise. The pros are obvious: close to nightlife (and most of the city’s GLBT scene, too) and the center, and well-communicated (especially for the northern part of the city).
Not to miss: Viriato’s gourmet hamburger, the cute shops on nearby Calle Regina, Cafe Central on a Friday night, Teatro Alameda’s offerings.
source: Dominó por España blog
Ever heard that famous song by Los del Río? Yep, it was named for Seville’s most
famous life-sized statue of the Virgen Mary, whose basilica and procession in the early hours of Holy Friday draw crowds and shout of “¡GUAPA!” Rent prices here are lower, bars more authentic and fewer tourists. The markets bustle, and the winding roads beneath plant-infested balconies are breathtaking. It´s also not uncommon to see processions or stumble upon a new boutique or pop-up bar. It’s also located just steps away from Alameda.
Not to miss: Plaza de los Botellines, Calle Feria and its market (and the most frequita Cruzcampo I’ve encountered!), numerous kebab shops for a late-night snack, the Macarena basilica and old city fortress walls.
The city’s business center is located in Nervión, where houses are meant more for families. This means they’re bigger, newer and better-equipped (most apartments for rent come already furnished with the basics). Still, Nervión is well-connected to the center, airport and Triana, is sandwiched between the central train stations, and boasts a shopping mall and the Sevilla Fútbol Club stadium.
Not to miss: n’Ice Cream cake and ice cream shop, the Cruzcampo factory, El Cafetal’s live music on weekends, Nervión Plaza Mall.
Where do I live? Um, in none of these. Where are you planning on living, or live already? What do you like (or not) about it?
Please note that not all of Seville’s neighborhoods, districts, urbanizaciones or barriadas are listed here; rather, I wanted to include the most popular among foreigners. This is evident in the fact that mine is NOT included in this list!