As the city's old Jewish quarter, this colorful neighborhood is bursting at the seams with history. Its vibrant buildings, packed tapas bars and central location make it a must on any Seville itinerary.
That being said, Santa Cruz also has plenty of tourist traps disguised as authentic experiences. If you really want to make the most of this charming neighborhood, add these things to do to your agenda and get ready for an unforgettable Seville experience.
Check out the Giralda view from Patio de las Banderas
A cathedral tower as tall (and as impressive) as Seville's Giralda can be hard to photograph correctly. To get a stunning view of the tower in all its glory, head to Patio de las Banderas.
This historic square, snuggled between the Cathedral and the Alcazar, serves as a sort of unofficial entrance to Barrio Santa Cruz. Be sure to spend some time here enjoying the colorful surroundings (complete with Andalusia's ever-present orange trees) in addition to the view itself.
See a Spooky Legend Up Close
Hidden in an unassuming small plaza in the backstreets of Santa Cruz sits a home with a colorful plaque under the balcony. Move a little closer and you'll see that it depicts a skull.
Versions of the legend vary, but it's generally agreed that a young Jewish woman named Susona lived in the home in the late 15th century. Her father was involved in a plot against the local authorities, only to be betrayed by Susona herself as well as her lover, a Christian.
Wracked with guilt for the rest of her life at having sold her father out, Susona never left her home in Barrio Santa Cruz again. When she died, her head was supposedly suspended from the balcony of the house and remained there for more than 200 years. Today, the only trace that remains of it is the plaque.
True? None of us will ever know. Spooky? Definitely.
Relax in Plaza Doña Elvira
Like Calle Susona, Plaza Doña Elvira is famous for the romantic legend behind it. The story goes that this square was the home of a woman that the legendary Don Juan was in love with, though the two didn't get their happily ever after in the end.
Today, it remains one of Seville's most undeniably charming and picturesque squares. As you explore, take a moment to simply relax here—its utter tranquility in the midst of busy Santa Cruz will take your breath away.
Get Lost in the Backstreets
With brightly colored buildings and beautiful floral accents around practically every turn, Barrio Santa Cruz is a district that's just begging to be explored. One of the best ways to do so is to simply get lost and see where you end up. A good starting point is Calle Judería, whose name is a nod to the neighborhood's onetime status as Seville's Jewish quarter.
Step Back in Time at Casa de Pilatos
While everyone else is flocking to the Cathedral and the Alcázar, you'll be getting off the beaten path.
Casa de Pilatos isn't as well-known as some the aforementioned touristic sites in Barrio Santa Cruz, and that's exactly what makes it so incredible. Constructed in the late 15th century, this eclectic mansion is a mix of several different architectural styles all centered around a tranquil Andalusian courtyard. It's open year-round, but makes for an especially beautiful springtime visit.
Learn About Flamenco and See a Show
Seville is widely considered to be the birthplace of flamenco, perhaps Spain's most recognizable art form. So what better place to learn about this passionate performance?
While not all flamenco venues are created equal, there are some true gems in the winding streets of Barrio Santa Cruz. One standout is La Casa del Flamenco, which has everything that a good flamenco performance should: an intimate venue, talented performers, and utmost respect for the art (photography and video recording are extremely limited).
Want to get a deeper understanding of flamenco before you see a show? You're in luck—Seville's very own Flamenco Dance Museum is located in Santa Cruz as well.
Take a Walk in the Jardines del Murillo
As beautiful as it is, Santa Cruz is pretty popular. As a result, it can get a little crowded—and when that happens, you'll want an escape.
Enter the Jardines de Murillo. Located on the eastern edge of the neighborhood just beyond the more popular Alcázar gardens, this lovely little green space is a respite of tranquility in the middle of the busy neighborhood. Come for a quick stroll or make a day of it with a picnic and a good book—either way, this is one spot worth spending some time in.
Eat Tapas on Calle Mateos Gago
As you explore Santa Cruz, you'll start to work up an appetite. Luckily, you're right near one of Seville's top tapas streets: Calle Mateos Gago.
But be careful: the street's proximity to the cathedral makes it a big draw for tourists, and for every authentic gem, there's a soulless tourist trap (or two). So which places fall into the former category?
Plenty of them, as long as you know where to look. For a uniquely sevillano experience, try Bar La Fresquita, decked out head-to-toe in Holy Week memorabilia. Another local favorite a little ways down the street is Taberna Alvaro Peregil - La Goleta, a no-frills, blink-and-you'll-miss-it hole-in-the-wall serving up Seville's signature orange wine and home-cooked tapas. For something more upscale, La Azotea is a must for contemporary tapas and a trendy ambiance.