BARRIO SANTA CRUZ Seville

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Why visit Seville's Santa Cruz neighborhood?

If there is one neighborhood that captures the essence of Seville, it would be the old Jewish quarter known as Barrio Santa Cruz. Get lost in the labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets and discover quaint little squares with picturesque hidden corners. Santa Cruz is a great place to relax and enjoy some tapas on a terrace while taking in the sweet scent from the surrounding orange blossoms. You will also find a number of small shops selling local artisanal products as well as a few art galleries. While Barrio Santa Cruz is very touristy, it still retains its traditional Andalusian charm. Visiting the barrio is definitely one of main things to do in Seville.

Quaint square in Barrio Santa Cruz, Seville – Spain
Quaint square in Santa Cruz

History of Barrio Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is one of the oldest parts of Seville. In fact, it has been occupied since Roman times when Seville was known as Hispalis. The neighborhood is situated right on the border of the walled Roman city. On Calle Mármoles you can still see 3 columns from the gate of a Roman temple that dates back to the 1st century AD.

In 1248, the Moors were overthrown and the Christians moved back into Seville. Due to the business skills of the Jews, the Spanish crown gave them special privileges and allowed them to move into the Santa Cruz and adjacent San Bartolomé neighborhoods. King Alonso X even gave them permission to transform several mosques into synagogues. Two of them are still standing today, however they are now churches – Iglesia de San Bartolomé & Iglesia de Santa María la Blanca.

Plaza de Doña Elvira at night - Barrio Santa Cruz, Seville
Plaza de Doña Elvira at night

In the 14th century animosity against the Jews began to grow. This contention peaked with the Massacre of 1391 when the Santa Cruz neighborhood was attacked by an unruly mob. Over 4,000 Jews were forcefully dragged from their homes and murdered.

In 1483, Jews were officially expelled from Seville. The Santa Cruz neighborhood began to slowly decay over the following centuries. It continued to deteriorate until it was reformed for the Iberoamerican Exhibition of 1929.

What to See in Barrio Santa Cruz

ALCAZAR DE SEVILLA

Gorgeous patio with fountain and trees in the Royal Alcazar – One of the top things to do in Seville
Alcazar – One of the top things to do in Barrio Santa Cruz

The Alcazar de Sevilla is a splendid royal palace surrounded by over 17 acres of wonderful gardens. To give you a better idea, the Alcazar complex actually occupies about a third of the whole Santa Cruz neighborhood.

In the Alcazar you will have the opportunity to wander through richly decorated rooms and patios, full of ornate arches and ceilings, exquisite plasterwork and intricate ceramic tiles. The Alcazar de Sevilla is actually one of the most beautiful examples of Mudéjar architecture in the world.

Visiting the Alcazar is not only one of the top things to do in Barrio Santa Cruz, but also in Seville as a whole.

CATHEDRAL & GIRALDA

Views of Seville's cathedral and giralda tower, Spain
Cathedral & Giralda Tower

Right on the border of Barrio Santa Cruz stands the monumental Seville Cathedral, which is actually considered the world’s largest cathedral and largest gothic building. In addition, the cathedral is the resting place for the tomb of Christopher Columbus.

The cathedral’s bell tower, called the Giralda, is a symbol of Seville. The cathedral visit includes access to the top of the tower, which offers great city views.

ARCHIVO DE INDIAS

Shelves full of archives inside the Archivo de Indias in Seville
Shelves full of archives in the Archivo de Indias

Seville’s Archivo de Indias houses 80 million pages of documentation about the exploration and trade in the Americas. Although only a small fraction of it is on display, you will have the opportunity to tour one of Spain’s finest Renaissance buildings, which was originally erected as a merchant exchange in 1589.

Besides the archive’s hallways, the other highlights are the checkered stone patio and a grand main staircase made of red and black marble. Usually, there are also interesting temporary exhibitions covering topics such as the first circumnavigation of the world.

PLAZA DEL TRIUNFO

Horse carriages in Plaza del Triunfo – Seville, Spain
Horse carriages in Plaza del Triunfo

The Plaza de Triunfo (Triumphal Square) is located in the heart of Seville. It’s surrounded by some of the city’s most important sights: the Alcazar de Sevilla, the Seville Cathedral and the Archivo de Indias.

The square has a monument in the center that was installed after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 to commemorate the fact that the cathedral didn’t suffer any damage.

CALLE MATEOS GAGO

Calle Mateos Gago seen from the Giralda – Barrio Santa Cruz, Seville
Calle Mateos Gago seen from the Giralda

In the 13th century, the Mateos Gago street was full of shoemakers. Today, it is one of Santa Cruz’s most traditional streets filled with tapas bars and restaurants. Be sure to stop at Taberna Álvaro Peregil for a glass of local orange wine. The street begins at the base of the Giralda tower.

PATIO DE BANDERAS

Traditional buildings at the Patio de Banderas, Seville – Spain
Traditional buildings at the Patio de Banderas

This large square is surrounded by the walls of the Alcazar. If you visit the Alcazar (and everyone should that visits Seville) you will pass through the square when you exit.

CALLEJON DEL AGUA

Pasaje del Agua in Barrio Santa Cruz, Seville – Spain
Pasaje del Agua

This peculiar street is 140m long and very narrow. At one time, it was actually a canal where water was transported to the Alcazar.

In the beginning of the 19th century, the famous writer Washington Irving lived on this street. From here he went on to Granada where he wrote one of his most colorful books, Tales of the Alhambra.

PLAZA DE DOÑA ELVIRA

Flamenco guitar player in Plaza de Doña Elvira, Barrio Santa Cruz – Seville, Spain
Flamenco guitar in Plaza de Doña Elvira

Plaza de doña Elvira is one of Santa Cruz’s most charming squares. It’s full of orange trees and traditional tiled benches. It’s surrounded by stores, restaurants and bars.

JARDINES DE MURILLO

The colorful Jardines de Murillo, Seville – Spain
The colorful Jardines de Murillo

The Jardines de Murillo is a beautifully landscaped garden that runs along the outside walls of the Alcazar. The garden is named after the famous Sevillian painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

You will find an assortment of palms, orange trees, bougainvilleas, jasmine and more. In the center there is a monument to Christopher Columbus.

HOSPITAL DE LOS VENERABLES

Traditional patio in the Hospital de los Venerables, Barrio Santa Cruz, Seville – Spain
Cloister in the Hospital de los Venerables

The Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes is a baroque building from the 17th century. It contains a beautiful patio and a church. Originally built to house priests, today it is the headquarters of the Focus Foundation and the Centro Velázquez. Inside there are paintings from the famous painter Diego Velázquez and also two of his counterparts – Bartolomé Esteban Murillo & Juan de Valdés Leal.

The Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes is located in the square with the same name (Plaza de los Venerables Sacerdotes) where you will also find a variety of bars and restaurants.

Top Accommodations in Barrio Santa Cruz

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