There are few grander places in the Andalusian capital to shelter from the rain than its gargatuan Cathedral of St Mary of the See, the largest cathedral and Gothic church on the planet. Take advantage of one of Seville’s rare rainy days, then, to visit its breathtaking interior, which boasts the longest central nave in Spain. Construction lasted from 1401 to 1507, and it was the original aim of the designers to to build something so large and beautiful that people would think them insane. The cathedral is also the final resting place of Christopher Columbus. Or is it?
The ornate minaret attached to Seville’s cathedral is all that remains of the mosque that once stood on the same site. Cool, rainy days in the Andalusian capital are perfect for climbing all the way to the top of this iconic tower to admire the views; and doing so is easier than you may think, as until the very last section the way up is via ramps rather than stairs (so it’s accessible on horseback. Give it a try). The tower was originally topped with giant copper globes, but an earthquake removed them in 1365, and they were replaced with a Christian cross and bell tower.
Like most other major Andalusian cities, Seville is saturated in flamenco: the music’s distinctive sounds – harsh one moment, seductive the next – can be heard drifting from open windows all over the city, especially in the oldest neighbourhoods. Make the most of a rainy day here by heading to the superb Museo del Baile Flamenco in the former Jewish quarter of Santa Cruz, where you’ll be taken on a journey through the history of this mysterious art. The museum also puts on nightly shows featuring some of the best dancers, singers and guitarists in Andalusia.
Damp weather might not exactly inspire you to explore the streets of Triana, Seville’s former gypsy quarter. But even if it’s pouring down, you can still take the pulse of this enchanting neighbourhood by visiting its central market. Located on the riverbank on the site of a medieval castle, the Mercado de Triana is a colourful and chaotic collection of stalls selling fruit and vegetables, flowers, olive oil, wine, meat and fish. There are also a few little tapas bars that are perfect for people-watching with a snack and cold beer as the rain hammers down on the roof above.
Seville’s so-called ‘Golden Age’ lasted during the 16th and 17th centuries, following Christopher Columbus’ ‘disovery’ – as far as Europe was concerned – of the Americas, and it is this booming period of its history that is documented in the Archivo de Indias. Use a rainy afternoon to browse through some (and we do mean some) of the 80 million documents housed here, all of which pertain to the Spanish Empire during Seville’s heydey. There’s also a cannon from the 17th century and several paintings by Goya, and the UNESCO-protected building itself is well worth a visit.
Andalusians are so unused to rain that they often cancel plans to go out in the evening if an umbrella is required. We know a little drizzle won’t put you off sampling the Andalusian capital’s nightlife, though, so finish off a rainy day here by heading to the Alameda de Hercules to party. Following a renovation in the early 2000s, this is now one of Seville’s most popular nightspots, offering a range of international cuisine, live music venues and trendy nightclubs open until breakfast time.