The city of Seville is as beautiful as it is intriguing. Its long history is peppered with tragic events, pestilences, unrequited lovers and ruthless inquisitors: the perfect cocktail for any lover of enigmas and mysteries.
Among the things to see and do in Seville, a mystery tour is always a good option. There are dozens of different routes and the first one focuses on haunted mansions. Some spirits continue to torment the living...
1. Haunted House Tour
Being such a beautiful city, it is not surprising that some souls decided to stay here. Sevillians know well the legends of spirits and some swear to have seen a woman in a nightgown in the Alvarez Quintero Theater or a 19th century monk in the same Seville City Hall.
The haunted places are scattered throughout the old town, from the Santa Cruz neighborhood to Triana.
The British Institute and its white lady, the Don Cecilio Bookstore and the homonymous ghost or Casa Fabiola with its spirit of the Archbishop of Westminster are just some of the stages of these tours. Generally these types of tours are intended for those over 12 years of age.
- Duration: 1 hour and a half
- Price: more or less 10 €.
2. Seville and its people: Romans, Gypsies, Jews, Islamics and Catholics
These routes explore the multicultural history of Seville's capital, focusing on the mysteries linked to the peoples who lived here.
Seville was a crossroads of cultures. Although its origins date back to the Tartessians, it became an important commercial center during Roman times. It was known as Hispalis and traces of this era have survived to this day.
The columns of Hercules and Caesar in the Alameda de Hercules and the remains of the aqueduct in the nearby town of Carmona are two witnesses to the Roman past.
Seville did not lose its relevance neither in the Visigothic period nor in the Islamic period when it became known as Isbiliya. Although it depended on the Caliphate of Cordoba, it was one of the most important cities of Al-Andalus.
Before the arrival of the Christians, it was also home to a large Jewish colony that lived mainly in the current neighborhood of Santa Cruz. It is also worth mentioning the gypsy presence that was mainly concentrated in Triana, the most picturesque neighborhood of Seville.
- Duration: about 2 hours
- Price: between 5 € and 10 €.
3. Mysteries and legends of Triana
Do you know the story of Princess Cava? Have you ever heard of the Pinzón brothers? The history of Seville has been written in this neighborhood and these are just two examples of its many legends.
Being the birthplace of flamenco, some stories revolve around the birth of this art that has been declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.
In Triana there is a lot to see and a guided tour is the ideal way to capture its nature. There are several routes and almost all touch on the essentials of the neighborhood - Iglesia de Santa Ana, Castillo de San Jorge, Casa de la Esperanza, Calle Betis and the old Cava de los gitanos - and in some cases go almost as far as Isla de la Cartuja.
- Duration: 2 hours
- Price: about 10 €.
4. Templar Seville Tour
The Knights Templar played a fundamental role during the Reconquest. King Ferdinand III rewarded their help with some concessions and many of these are located in the capital of Seville.
In recent years some tourist agencies have specialized in routes dedicated to the Templar past that touch the following points:
- Barrio de San Bernardo, a district that owes its name to St. Bernard of Clairvaux. The French monk exalted the Knights Templar in his work "Glories of the New Militia".
- Buhaira Gardens, a green area that has refreshed the city since the time of Al-Mutamid, the last Abbot king of Seville. The Templars settled in this very place before launching the attack on the city.
- Church and Hospital de la Caridad, a baroque masterpiece. Its construction is due to Miguel de Mañara, a member of the Order of Calatrava.
- El Arenal, a neighborhood with a past of splendor. During the colonial era, gold and silver from America landed in the nearby Canal de Alfonso XIII. Its main icon is the elegant Plaza del Cabildo. Every Sunday morning it hosts a numismatic and philatelic flea market.
- Patio de los Naranjos, an attachment of the Cathedral of Seville with its typical citrus trees. During the Golden Age it was frequented by people of dubious fame; being located inside a church it was not subject to civil laws.
The Order of the Temple was very powerful and yet it had an even more fearsome enemy: Philip IV "the Fair". The king of France contracted a great debt with the Templars and when he could not pay it, he decreed the illegalization of the movement. A papal bull put an end to the story also in our country.
- Duration: between 1 hour and 1 hour and a half.
- Price: more or less 10 €.
5. Dramatized route in the Cemetery of San Fernando
The cemetery dedicated to San Fernando is the most monumental of Seville and hosts the tombs of its most illustrious sons. It was built in the 19th century and is inspired by the Parisian cemetery of Père-Lachaise. Its pantheons and sculptures are the perfect backdrop for the dramatized tours.
In some cases, the routes focus on the representation of Don Juan Tenorio, the famous play by José Zorrilla. On other occasions, the night walks will take you to various corners of the cemetery and actors will bring to life the stories of the deceased. The guide knows dozens of chilling stories and legends.
As a cherry on top, a violinist livens up the tour, contributing to create an atmosphere of mystery. Due to the content, these tours are not recommended for children under 14 years old. If you travel to Seville with children I recommend you to read the dedicated article.
- Duration: 1 hour and a half
- Price: between 10 € and 15 €.
6. Seville and the plague
In 1649 the capital of Seville suffered the greatest epidemic in its history. It was a disastrous year for the city: the scarce cereal harvest and an overflowing of the Guadalquivir River paved the way for the plague that took the lives of more than 60,000 people.
The Movistar series explains this chapter of Sevillian history very well.
The 17th century plague has left traces in different parts of the city and there are routes that reveal the mysteries of this dark period.
The first stage is usually the old Port of the Indies; here ships from the Americas disembarked loaded with gold, spices and, unfortunately, also black mice carrying the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The routes also reach the following points:
- Alameda de Hercules. What today is a large tree-lined square, in ancient times was a marshy area: the ideal habitat for the development of diseases. There are many bars and some tapas tours pass through here.
- Casa de la Moneda, a small quarter that guarded the riches coming from America. In the 17th century Seville was very important as it was the starting point for trade with the new world.
- Reales Atarazanas, a shipyard for building galleys that was built during the reign of Alfonso X. It was the gateway for the plague in Seville.
- Casa de Monardes, the residence of the doctor and botanist of the same name. It helped the sick during the peak of the epidemic.
- Hospital de las Cinco Llagas, the sanatorium that sheltered the dying.
The guide will explain the most relevant details that will make you discover a different side of the city. Sometimes, these urban routes are inspired by the Movistar series and stop in front of the buildings that have hosted the recordings. Normally, the guided tours start from a central location such as the Cathedral or the Torre del Oro.
- Duration: between 1 hour and a half and 2 hours.
- Price: around 10 € per person
Are these routes suitable for children?
Most of these tours do not admit children under 12 or 14 years old. In any case, if you or your companion are impressionable, it might be better to opt for another route.
Why should I choose a tour of mysteries and legends?
Seville is a charming city and is dotted with beautiful monuments. If you are tired of traditional tours and feel like experiencing something different, a tour of mysteries and legends is a recommended option. You will see the city from a different side without giving up its history.
In addition, these tours take place in the afternoon/evening; a very important element if you visit Seville in summer. Between June and the beginning of September, daytime temperatures reach 40º and in some cases can reach 45º. Fortunately, after sunset the mercury column drops and stabilizes around 20º.
Is it worth taking a mystery and legends tour in winter?
Of course it does! Somehow we can say that winter hardly exists in the capital of Seville. The coldest month is January but don't expect freezing weather: temperatures usually fluctuate between 6º and 16º. A coat and a light scarf are enough to make a route without complications.
For more information about plans in the cold months, I recommend you to read the post about what to do in Seville in winter.