Seville is pretty hot right now. Averaging about 28 degrees, so in true British spirit, mad dogs and Englishmen, at the height of the afternoon sun we went to explore the Park of Maria Luisa.
PARQUE DE MARÍA LUISA IN SEVILLE, SPAIN
The park was formerly the gardens of the Palace of San Telmo but were donated to the city of Sevilla in 1893 by Luisa Fernanda (a Duchess) for use as a public park.
I don’t think we had any appreciation of just how BIG this park was and it wasn’t until we started walking around that we understood just how hot and large it was!
The park is enormous, 100 acres of land and with more than 150 different species of trees and plants from five different continents. To save our feet we hired a bike and explored like Kings and Queens – well sort of!
Things to do at the park of Maria Luisa
According to the map (which we found after our visit) there are FORTY-FIVE separate places to visit. You could easily spend an entire day visiting all the little areas as well as the two museums.
La plaza de espana
In 1914 the architect Aníbal Gonzalez began construction for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, which was held partly within the park. The Plaza de Espana was designed solely for the exposition and was used as the office of the fair.
Although it was built to showcase Spain’s industry and technology exhibits, don’t be fooled by its grand exterior. What you see is what you get! The complex is a half-circle of a building with nothing behind it. It looks like it should lead into a fine palace but instead you’ll have to make do with the moat and bridges.
There is an interesting story behind the design of the building however. Apparently the U shape of the buildings is meant to signify the open embrace of arms towards the west (Plaza de America). In fact the purpose of the exposition was to improve relations between Spain and the countries in attendance (North & South America), all of which had historical ties with Spain through colonization. On the end of each arm is a tower where you can rent boats and pretend you’re in Venice!
The Vicente Traver fountain fountain sits in the middle of the ‘plaza’. Traver was an architect in Seville who designed low income housing but was appointed the chief architect for the renovations of the park. He later became Mayor in the north of Spain.
On the walls facing into the courtyard are a series of tiled alcoves, each of which represent a different city or province.
All the tiles date from the beginning of the 20th century and were designed and created in Triana (across the canal), and are one of the prides of the city.
Plaza de America
Plaza de America lies to the east of the park and is surrounded by the Museum of Popular Arts, the Archeological museum (which we never saw) and the royal Pavillion. Each was built for the Ibero-American exhibition in the early 1900’s.
A must to visit is the white pigeon square which is filled with white pigeons and usually plenty of people trying to feed them. The white pigeons were a gift from the Philippines for the 1929 Exposition and it is tradition that children go to the park solely to feed and handle the pigeons.
How many fountains?
I am not sure how many fountains and little water pools there are but there’s a lot! Around every corner it seems there are more. Great for kids who are hot and want to dip their feet.
Find a bridge or two
Everywhere there’s water, there’s a bridge. I set the kids a challenge of how many we could find and count but we lost count and forgot after about six.
Islata de los Patos
The duck pond was looking a little green and slimy, not that it put the wildlife off and there are plenty of fish to spot too. Our kids had fun jumping over the water source ponds, being careful not to fall in. POO. Imagine the smell lol.
Not one but three museums
The Archaeological Museum, Museum of Popular Arts and Arts and Custom Museum. We didn’t have time to go in them so I cannot say if it’s worth it or not but the reviews look promising.
Jardin de los leones
The garden of the lions is entered through the colourful and fragrant bougainvillea pergola which is currently this amazing shade of fuchsia, orange and purple.
The garden of the lions is a series of stone lion fountains, each carrying a shield, set around four pools of octagonal shape. It is one of the more famous areas of the park due to its reconstruction. They were originally installed in 1928 but due to vandalism had to be replaced with copies.
I think that Monte Gurugu was already in place when the gardens were donated to the city however I am not sure. In any case the kids had great fun exploring the rocky mound’s different steps that lead up to it and trying to sit adjacent to it – without falling off.
It also has a tunnel cut through the bottom of the “mountain”. At the top is a shaded pavilion where you can take a seat, enjoy the view or look over the edge!
The fountain with the rose
Seville is a city built on tradition. Tradition says that if you can touch the rose on the tiles before falling in the water, you’ll marry your husband before the end of the year. It’s harder than it looks and on a Sunday you’ll often see people chancing their luck – even couples who want to elongate their relationship.
These two photos were taken with my Google Pixel phone on a separate day.
Renting the bike
You can rent a bike from the wooden shack near the Plaza de Espana. You can’t fail to miss it because there are about 30 bikes next to it. Our bike which could seat four adults and up to four children and cost 24 euros for an hour.
I really recommend hiring a bike and taking a BIG bottle of water. There are two bars in the park though, just in case you forget the water or want something a bit stronger!
The best park in Europe
The park of Maria Luisa is regularly voted one of the best parks in Europe. What do you think? Have you been? Leave us a comment below!