When it comes to Spain, Barcelona and Madrid are considered the main gay destinations, but don’t tell that to Seville. This artistic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain and the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia is the fourth largest Spanish city with a metro-area population of around 1.5 million.
Hercules was considered the mythic founder of the city, known in Roman times as Hispalis. Well-preserved Roman ruins of the ancient town of Italica, or at the modern city of Carmona nearby, give an idea how it might have looked. Today the buildings at Seville city center show strong influences of the more recent Moorish, medieval, renaissance and baroque periods.
Gay nightlife is vibrant year-round: stroll down to La Alameda de Hércules, a square named after the legendary founder, where most of the city’s best gay bars are located. As for finding your own demigod, you’re on your own, but if it's big you like, you're in luck. The city has a large bear population, and every fall the population swells even more for a hirsute festival called GuadalkiBear The name’s a play on the Guadalquivir River that runs alongside town. There’s also a developing gay presence at the carnival-like Feria, a citywide festival held each year in April or May.
The Aeropuerto de Sevilla is about 20-30 minutes by bus from downtown. These run from the airport to Plaza de Armas at the center every 30 minutes, every day between 5:20am and 1:15am (from city center to airport 4:30 to 00:30). Single tickets cost €4 and can be bought on the bus. Taxis are another way to get to your hotel.
Seville has a compact downtown made for strolling. Traffic in these narrow streets is difficult and signs are confusing, so except for when taking out of town trips, a car is more hassle than it's worth. Taxis are everywhere, and not expensive. A short trolley line covers a route down the main street. Tussam, the official public transport website, is in Spanish only. For public transportation information in English see Explore Seville, Seville Traveller, or Andalucia.com. Besides metro train and bus options, they list bicycle rentals, taxi referrals, even horse and carriage rides. Sevici is the bike share program, with 2500 bicycles available from 250 stations and an English language website.
Tourist Offices at the airport, the Santa Justa train station and at Plaza del Triunfo (among other locations) can help with maps, pamphlets, transportation information, and tips on current exhibits and events around town - in English and (except for some guide books) at no cost.
What to do
The Moorish-style Alcázar, the old palace, is a stunning sight. Make sure to take a stroll through the formal gardens in the rear. The Catedral de Sevilla dominates the center of the city — not surprising, as it’s one of the largest cathedrals in the world. The bell tower, called the Giralda, is built in an obviously different style because it was the minaret of the mosque at this site. Don’t miss the neighborhood of Santa Cruz, the old Jewish Quarter until the Jews were expelled in 1483.
The Seville Fine Arts Museum (Museo de Bellas Artes), features sculptures, decorative arts, ceramics, religious icons, and paintings by 17th century Golden Age of Seville artists, such as Murillo, Zurbarán, Francisco de Herrera the younger, and Valdés Leal. The Seville Archeological Museum collection includes articles from the El Carambolo gold treasure, along with Roman mosaics, busts and statues excavated from the nearby site of the ancient Roman city of Itálica.
Teatro de la Maestranza performing arts include concerts by the Seville Royal Symphony Orchestra and the Baroque Orchestra of Seville, popular music concerts and musicals, operas and ballets by visiting international companies, flamenco, contemporary dance by PAD and others, and Mes de la Danza, the International Festival of Contemporary Dance in October.
The Centro Cultural Flamenco/ Casa de la Memoria is the flamenco cultural center and museum, with performances nightly. The Museo del Baile Flamenco is another museum of flamenco, also with performances. The Centro Cultural Cajasol is an exposition complex that features music concerts, theater and dance performances, along with cinema screenings.
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The city's two most important events take place before the summer heat arrives. Semana Santa street processions of church brotherhoods and penitentes in their cone-shaped capirote head gear, are followed by elaborate floats with 17th century religious icons, and bands playing fervent flamenco-style hymns. The parties continue late into the night. The Seville Spring Fair takes place two weeks later in a thousand canvas tent pavillions at Real de la Feria -- a week of dancing and parades in traditional gypsy and flamenco costume, fireworks, and lots of drinking, eating, and staying up all night -- even more than usual. Bullfights take place too, usually at the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla, a bullfighting ring, library and art museum, built between 1760 and 1881 to replace wooden contructions previously at the site.
Orgullo del Sur Seville Gay Pride is a week of events in late June, with a Saturday march. There are also Ojalá LGBT Association pride events in Malaga. The annual international bear weekend GuadalkiBear is usually an October affair. .
Currency and Money
Spain’s official currency is the euro. There are ATMs scattered about the center, so you won’t have trouble getting more cash. Check with your home bank before leaving to avoid credit card transaction red flags, and consider getting a credit card with a chip (and pin number) for more security, and to use in machines that require them. If a local bank is a partner of your home bank you can avoid or discount the ATM withdrawal fees when using your debit card. Also ask for a non-800 number to reach your bank in case of emergency -- most US toll-free numbers don't work outside North America.
Phones and email
Most smart phones will work here with the right plan (consult your home provider for details). If not, buy a local number chip for about 20€, then add more time as needed. To activate it be ready with passport and address. Major local providers have brand stores (Orange, Vodafone, Movistar), but other stores sell them too. Incoming is free, but outgoing transatlantic calls are expensive - for those find a "locatorio" internet storefront for rates of 10-20 cents per minute. These also offer computers to check email or use skype. If you didn't bring your own, buy a cheap mobile phone and chip. Most pay phones take coins, (you'll need plenty of euros to feed it), or a Telefónica smart card from an "estanco" (tobacco shop). For North America dial 001 + the area code and number. As US Customs agents may examine the contents of your phone, Grindr users be prepared, or possibly be embarrassed.
Media & Resources
For local info on bears, chubby mature, supporters, admirers & chasers in Andalusia, check the website of GuadalkiBear.
1987 Bar (Alameda de Hércules 93), after 10:30pm Wednesday-Saturday gay-friendly neighborhood copas bar, music videos, terrace.
Bohemia Bar (Calle Amor de Dios 44), "cafe, copas & cocktails" neighborhood bar, gay mix, popular with bears, Sunday drag shows, holiday parties.
El Bosque Animado (Calle de Arias Montano, 5), popular 8pm-3am gay cafe and bar at center, busiest Fridays and Saturdays, large late-night terrace crowd; coffees and pastries, holiday fiestas, mostly gay men but women/straight-friendly mix.
El Bunker (Calle Torrijiano 2), men's cruise/sex club/bar, naked and underwear nights, maze, glory holes, jail, sling, dark room, orgy room, porn videos.
Gold Sevilla (Avenida Torneo 43), Friday and Saturday gay dance club/ cocktail lounge, outdoor terrace, mixed/ mostly younger male crowd, shows, go-go dancers and theme parties. October through May parties, then see LUX at Auditorio Rocío Jurado for summer events.
Gomorra Club (Calle Jesús del Gran Poder 70), members' cruise club, bar, porn videos, smokers' zone, private rooms, glory holes, showers, Jacuzzi.
Hole Pub (Trastamara 27), small Wednesday-Sunday men's pub and sex club, dark room cruising, g-holes, cabins, 2-1 copas 11pm-1am.
Itaca (Calle Amor de Dios 31), nightly 10pm-7am cocktail lounge, gay disco dancing, go-go dancers, chill-out and cruise areas, Wednesday-Thursday drag shows; theme nights, Underwear, Pride and Rome special event parties.
Jewel at Monesterio (Calle Amor de Dios 18), Friday and Saturday night outdoor courtyard gay dance parties from midnight; Friday oldies, Saturday House music.
LUX at Auditorio Rocío Jurado (Isla de la Cartuja; Camino de los Descubrimientos/Leonardo da Vinci), gay and mixed Friday and Saturday nights, midnight to 5am from May through October; open-air dancing, go-go boys and shows.
Men to Men (Calle Trajano 38), bears/men's cruise bar on two floors 10:30pm-3am, DJs, dancing, drag shows, porn videos, dark room, cabins.
Sauna Alameda (Calle Jesús del Gran Poder 70), new gay bathhouse at city center, dry and steam saunas, Jacuzzi, dark room, glory hole, free WiFi and phone chargers.
Sauna Hispalis (Calle Céfiro, 3), dry and steam saunas, Jacuzzi, porn videos, cabins, darkroom and cruise maze; younger crowd, popular Saturday nights/Sunday afternoons. Open daily until midnight at all night Saturdays.
CLOSED: Club Extrem (Química 12), men's sex club/bar; Sauna Nordik (Resolana 38), saunas/Jacuzzis/pool for bears/mature crowd.