After visiting Plaza de España within a few days of arriving in Sevilla back in September in order to get my documentation sorted, I hadn’t really made the point of going back to see it again until my friend Louise came to visit a few weeks back. And before she came to visit I’d never actually been into Parque de María Luisa either!
At 3pm, we probably picked a silly time of the day to visit a massive open air plaza with little shade, but we both had on sun cream and also brought plenty of water with us, so we ended up being fine and neither one of us got burnt. Having said that, over the summer when it can get up to 45/50 degrees here, there’s no way I’d visit anything during the heat of the day. Locals say it’s only sensible to be out in the streets before 2pm and after 7/8pm because otherwise it’s faaaaaaar too hot. Unless you’re used to those kinds of temperatures, then, by all means, go ahead and do all the touristy stuff during the afternoon when it’s hottest.
But anyway, back to the Plaza. Plaza de España, along with many other buildings in that part of the city, was built in 1928 for the 1929 world’s fair Ibero-American Exposition. It covers more than 45,000m2 and was built in the form of a semi circle, which supposedly represents Spain embracing its former American colonies. The Plaza also faces towards the river from which many journeys to the Americas began. Along the walls of the Plaza there are beautiful tiled alcoves which each represent a different Spanish province. There is also a (sort of ) moat following the same arc as the main buildings in the Plaza with four bridges over it, each one representing one of the former kingdoms in Spain: León, Castilla, Aragón, and Navarra. On a sunny day (like most of them are here) the Plaza is a beautiful place to visit and wander around for maybe half an hour or so. There are benches dotted around, so you can enjoy a cold drink or an ice cream while sitting down. You can also climb the stairs and walk along inside the buildings themselves, which are now mostly used by the Government.
If you walk in the direction of the arms of the Plaza, you’ll reach Parque de María Luisa. It has to be said, this is not the most spectacular park I’ve ever visited, but it is one of the biggest green spaces in the city and provides some well-needed shade on a hot day. Most of the area the park now covers was the former garden of the Palacio de San Telmo, which was originally built as a naval school and is now the seat of the President of the Junta de Andalucía. When I visited the park with Louise, we enjoyed walking around and admiring the trees and some of the decorative fountains. It also seemed to be a popular spot with the locals.
I’d say you maybe need about 2 hours to visit both the Plaza de España and the park itself – it’s a good way to spend a morning or afternoon in the city. And the Plaza is certainly one of the most emblematic monuments in the city.
Where: You’ll find Parque de María Luisa and Plaza de España between the Guadalquivir river and Prado de San Sebastián/San Bernardo area in Sevilla.
When: The Plaza is permanently open to the public (I think) and Parque María Luisa is open from 8:00-22:00 (winter) and 8:00-24:00 (summer).
Price: Like the best things in life: free!
How to get there: Sevilla has an international airport with flights to many different destinations. You can also fly in Málaga or Madrid and take the high speed train to Sevilla itself. Once in the city, Plaza de España is one of the must-visit monuments and the park is located just behind it. It’s easy to find on maps of the city and is between the river and two of the main transport hubs: Prado de San Sebastián and San Bernardo.