Seville wears its past with a great deal of pride. You can’t go from one tapas bar to the next without stumbling past some marvel of a bygone era, be it a Baroque plaza, a Medieval fortress or one of the most sublime palace complexes in the world. But a city drenched in beauty is a city drenched in history, and you’ll soon start wondering how it all came to be. Fittingly for a place with such a long and winding past, the Andalusian capital has a museum to answer every question. Discover the best ones below.
Seville’s Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) rivals Madrid’s Prado with its wealth of Spanish Golden Age art, including masterpiece after masterpiece by Velázquez and Murillo. And even if the Baroque bounty doesn’t excite you, the building itself is ripe for gazing. Once a convent, it features ornate archways and fresco ceilings of astonishing detail.
There’s nothing like a contemporary art gallery to divide opinion, and this one, housed in a serene 15th-century monastery, will certainly get you talking. Temporary exhibitions are of varying levels of bizarre, but some permanent installations (such as a very, very large face protruding from a window) use their monastic setting to beguiling effect. It’s an hour or so from the centre on foot, but the property is so peaceful that you’ll be glad you came.
A must-see for Iberian archaeology fans, the Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla (Archaeological Museum of Seville) houses a vast collection – among Spain’s most significant – that will help you get to grips with Andalusia’s roots, age by age. Highlights include the spoils from the excavation of Itálica, an ancient Roman city on the outskirts of Seville. Designed in the 1920s by the architect behind the famous Plaza de España, Aníbal González, the museum itself is a supremely impressive sight.
Venture into Seville’s darkest period at the Museo del Castillo de San Jorge. This Medieval fortress was once the seat of the Spanish Inquisition, which is the subject of its bracingly candid display. It reimagines life inside the castle in detail – from the layout of the jail cells to what prisoners ate and how they were tortured. Look for the sinister Goya drawings of suspects being shamed. Located on the west bank of the Guadalquivir River, the museum’s entrance is easy to miss – it’s next to the lively Triana food market.
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