Shopping in Seville swaps faceless department stores for locally run boutiques with the flavour and character of Andalusia. After four years living in the city, I still found places to surprise me. So if you're looking to buy authentic Seville souvenirs, this guide will show you how and where to go.
Recommended reading: what to see and do in Seville
From sweet tasting biscuits to cracking ceramics
While you can find all the main chains in the city of Seville, it’s the smaller shops and national institutions that make shopping here a real treat. That, of course, and the flotilla of frilly spotted aprons, pink tights and sparkly matador jackets that crowd around the central tourist area. They're just for fun. The rest is the real deal.
Recommended reading: where to stay in Seville
Don’t dismiss the folding fans when it comes to beating the heat; Seville is Europe's hottest city after all.
Embrace the frivolity by heading into Padilla Crespo a la Ancha where you can pick up all manner of tourist paraphernalia plus a few odds and ends that can actually turn out to be helpful.
The area of Triana is famous for many things, from nightlife to the Spanish Inquisition, but it’s also the home of the celebrated ceramic workshops whose products decorate most of the Iberian Peninsula.
Cerámica El Altozano offers a good selection of products – from decorative plates to piggy banks to everyday utensils.
Keep an eye out for the crumbly, biscuit-like mantecado treats. They’re very low in fat and extremely good for you. Sort of. Well, they taste good, anyway.
To satisfy your tastebuds on the spot, try any one of the delicacies sold at the Confiteria Heladeria San Pablo.
Every now and then, you may catch a glance or two of a shop selling wizard hats. Except, the hat continues down to cover the face with two slits for eyes resulting in an image that looks horribly similar to the Ku Klux Klan.
Well, not to worry, you haven’t stumbled across a corner of racial hatred deep in southern Spain. These are the traditional costumes worn during religious processions – and the Spanish invented them first.
Each year during Holy Week, which runs up to Easter Sunday, the streets of Seville are filled with people wearing these pointed hats with long, flowing robes. It’s part of Semana Santa and each church, or brotherhood, wears a slightly different style.
Processions are slow and sombre, yet in traditional Andalusian fashion, the streets around them come alive with candy floss, beer and people having a good time.
Expect to see children carrying candles taller than themselves, immaculate women wearing lace black veils and boys as young as six beneath the full robes and hat of their chosen brotherhood.
Some processions last for more than 24 hours and the Metro stays open all night to match. Pick up a brochure from any self-respecting corner shop for a timetable and costume decoder.
Outfits are available all year round from specially designated shops.
For a truly healthy selection of food and a glimpse into how locals shop, cross the Puente Isabel II bridge from the centre of town to reach the Triana Market.
Head there in the morning to see fresh seafood, baskets of spices and curly-shaped squashes heaped up on separate stalls. It’s not for the squeamish, though. Be prepared to see bulls’ heads pinned to the walls and bulls’ tongues sliced up for sale.
If it’s gentrified shopping you’re looking for, visit any one of El Corte Inglés branches across the city. This department store has become a national treasure across Spain, stocking electrical goods, clothes, books, music and photographic equipment. Think of it as Spain’s answer to Marks & Spencer.
For a more alternative, edgy shopping experience, browse the multicolour leather goods sold by Ginza near Plaza Alameda. From rainbow coloured shoes to black Metallica babygrows, Ginza stocks a range of products that know how to make you smile.
While Julián López excels in selling reams and reams of fabric to the fashionable folk of Seville, its greatest draw is its extraordinary building and the way in which it has reinvented itself.
Bare brick, mirrors, arches and a high ceiling create a striking atmosphere. It’s worth a visit for that alone, even if all the haberdashery you’ve ever done involved sewing a button onto a shirt many, many years ago.
Flamenco may not involve the spotted dresses that tourists imagine but the sounds and the passion of flamenco still touch modern life in Andalusia. Popular local musicians Chambao bring the fresh sound of 21st century flamenco to your home with this CD, as well as showcasing other exciting artists in this genre.
Bring some fun into your kitchen with one of these frilly, spotted sevillana aprons. Although locals don’t tend to wear them, they do wear tailor-made dresses from the same kind of fabric each year for the week long Feria celebration on the outskirts of town. With shoes to match.
On the Triana side of the Guadalquivir River lie some of the world’s most renowned ceramic houses and collections of azulejos tiles. Almost every street in Seville and half the houses inside use these coloured, glazed tiles and their craftsmanship is as much in demand now as it was hundreds of years ago when the workshops first started trading.
Beat the heat with one of these handy folding fans. Sheer black lace gives them a particularly local flourish but any pattern will do once the temperature rises.
These round flat treats bring a smile to your lips and a bulge to your waistline. Made from far too much olive oil for you to want to know about, their sweet and spicy taste makes them an ideal companion for the journey back home.
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