Movie Tourism – Destination Seville, Spain

We are constantly overwhelmed by depressing reports of civil unrest and political upheaval in countries run by dictators. Invariably, we look for the lighter side in the news, which we may find in the hilarious comedy The Dictator scheduled for release May 2012. Seville will probably see an increase in tourism and a boost to their economy as the film gains international attention. Produced by the very talented Sacha Baron Cohen, the clever script, costumes, and props, along with an award-winning cast including Cohen (nominated again this year for Hugo), Anna Faris, John C. Riley, and Megan Fox provide delightful entertainment in The Dictator.

You may have seen the trailer while watching the Super Bowl:

Filming takes place in Seville, with the majority of scenes of military vehicles and the dictator’s statue in the Plaza de Espana. Seville, the capital of Andalusia in southern Spain, is a historic city dating back over 2,000 years and known for music, art, and culture. The city has an abundance of fascinating attractions that can’t be covered in one article, so we will highlight only a few.

The 16th century Catedral de Sevilla, 3rd largest in the world, is a must-see attraction with 80 chapels and a Tomb of Christopher Columbus. Conflicting stories exist among historians about the location of his remains, however, and DNA evidence raises further questions. As a result, there is a second tomb to Columbus on the island of Hispaniola.

Hours: Winter – Mon-Sat, 11-5:30pm, Sun, 2:30-6:30pm. Jul & Aug – Mon-Sat, 9:30-4:30pm, Sun, 2:30-6:30pm.

Admission: $10.50, $4 Students & Srs.

Visit the Alcazar (Palace), once a 10th century Moorish fortress, and now a royal residence for the kings of Spain, where both Muslim and Christian influence can be seen in the architecture. The Mudejar within the castle walls was the magnificent palace of Peter I built in 1364. There are 2 main courtyards, the Dolls and the Maidens, a reflective pool, sunken gardens, the king’s bedroom, Throne Room, and a room of valuable Flemish tapestries. Enjoy the scent of orange trees that fills the air as you stroll through the gardens and patios.

Open Daily: Oct-Mar, 7 days, 9:30-5pm. Apr-Sep, 9:30-7pm.

Admission: $11, $2.60 Students & Srs.

Go to the Plaza de la Encarnacion to see the Metropol Parasol, the world’s largest wooden structure built by Jurgen Mayer H architects. Known as the Mushroom, it provides a striking contrast between the old and the new Seville. This modern landmark is a series of walkways beneath connecting rows of parasols that rise over 60′ in the air. Visit the food market, the Antiquarium of roman artifacts, and take the elevator to the cocktail bar and a great view of the city. Open Daily: 10-2pm, 6pm-Midnight. Entry: $1.50

Museo de Baile Flamenco, opened in 2006, represents the international popularity of Andalusian flamenco song, dance, and classical guitar. Permanent and temporary exhibits and memorabilia are featured, as well as classes in flamenco. Nov-Mar, 9-6pm, Apr-Oct, 9-7pm. Admission: $13, $8

Enter the 16th century iron gates by Roldan to the Museo de Toros, which is housed within one of the oldest bullrings in Spain. Follow the history and view bulls heads, posters, and costumes worn by famous bullfighters of Seville, Belmonte and El Gallo. Open: Mon-Sat, 9:30-2pm & 3-7pm. Admission: $5

Museo de Bellas Artes in a former convent has three galleries of fine art by Spanish masters from the 15th to the 20th century including Velásquez, El Greco, and Murillo. Shop, cafè, studios, research center, & library. Hours: Tues-Sat, 9-8:30pm. Sun & Holidays, 9-2:30pm. Admission: $2, free to EU citizens.


The 5-star Hotel Alfonso XIII, built for the Ibero-American Exhibition in 1929, reflects the Moorish and Castilian heritage of a king’s palace. The hotel features elegant décor in spacious rooms and suites, gourmet cuisine, and indoor and outdoor dining. Currently undergoing renovation, scheduled to reopen March 2012.

Gran Melia Colon, also top rated, in the business district of Seville offers 10 categories of guestrooms, a rooftop solarium & sauna, 2 restaurants, and tour assistance. Rates: $289/dbl

EME Catedral, recommended in Conde Nast’s 2011 Traveler’s Gold List, has a rooftop terrace, outdoor pool, restaurant, and spa. Rates: $208/dbl

Barceló Renacamiento on the Isla de la Cartuja at the Guadalquivir River is connected to the northern neighborhood of Seville. This modern hotel is ideal for groups and conferences, as well as tourists who want to explore the Isla attractions. Among these are the Monastery de Santa Maria de las Cuevas where Columbus lived before his voyage, the Andalucian Contemporary Art Center, and the Isla Magica Amusement Park. The hotel features a 25-room convention center, 3 restaurants, 5 types of guestrooms, shops, and open-air pool.

Rates: Deluxe & Family Rooms – $123. Connecting – $216. Suite – $156.

Attractions: Monastery: $8 & $10. Art Center Hours: 1 Oct-31 Mar, Tues-Fri, 10-8pm, Sat, 11-8pm, Sun, 10-3pm. 1 Apr-30 Sep, Tues-Fri, 10-9pm, Sat, 11-9pm, Sun, 10-3pm. $2.35 & $4.

The Inglaterra in the Plaza Nueva is a smaller, boutique hotel with a good central location, reasonable rates, and restaurant onsite. Rooms: $120

Dining & Nightlife:

Marea Grande restaurant receives excellent reviews for Mediterranean seafood specialties and quality beef served indoors and on the terrace. Expensive from $38 to $100+. Hours: Mon-Sat, 1:30-4:30pm, & 9-Midnight.

The old world atmosphere of Egaña Oriza, the extensive menu of wild game including boar, duck, and ostrich, and an impressive wine list define the popularity of this restaurant. Reservations needed.

Prices: $32-$80. Hours: Mon-Fri, 1:30-3:30pm, & 9-11:30pm. Sat, 9-11:30pm.

European antiques and art in a 19th century townhouse add charm to the Taberna del Alabardero, located 3 blocks from the Cathedral and a favorite restaurant among Spanish dignitaries. Enjoy drinks and tapas on the patio or beef and foie gras in the main dining area or private room.

Open Daily. 1-4pm, 8-Midnight. Prices: $32-$38. Reservations.

Just as tortillas are popular in Mexico and the Southwest, so are tapas (cold and hot appetizers) in Spain. With over 4,000 tapas bars in Seville, tapas crawls like pub crawls are a popular way to spend an evening. From seafood and ham croquettes to sirloin in whiskey, tapas can be a snack or a meal. Served at the bar, they are inexpensive at $2-$4. You will find some of the best tapas at Enrique Becerra, with a varied menu and cozy surroundings. Enjoy cocktails or Sangria with an entrée of lamb or seafood and dessert. Prices: $22-$35, $64-$74 set menu. Hours: Mon-Sat, 1-4:30pm & 8-Midnight.

Flaherty’s, the Irish bar next to the Cathedral, features televised sports events, indoor patio, outside tables, tapas, and Tex-Mex food. Lively crowd, occasional music.

Others recommended include Alfalfa, Ambigu in the old Macarena district, and El Rinconcillo in the Plaza de los Terceros. The latter is not fancy, dating back to 1670, but the atmosphere is authentic and the staff is friendly.

Getting there: Numerous international airlines, but no direct flights from the U.S. to San Pablo Airport in Seville. Flights from London (2 ½ hours) on Ryanair, Iberia, and British Airways. Taxi to city center (about 8 miles) – $26, Bus – $3, 6:15am to 11pm. Rental cars available.

Sharon L Slayton

See also this old travel plan including Seville.

Filed Under: Movie tourism

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  1. Sharon Slayton says:

    The unpredictable Sacha Cohen showed up on Oscar night in his costume as the Dictator, carrying Kim Jong’s ashes…according to the media reports. He was turned away at the door although he was attending for his part in Hugo…what a stir this movie has caused! The guy is a real character…

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