The Plaza de Virgen de los Reyes is a historic square in Seville, dominated by the cathedral and its unique bell tower. Horse-drawn carriages and picture-snapping tourists are part of the scenery here.
Corral de los Olmos
In the middle ages this was the site of the former Corral de los Olmos (Courtyard of the Elms), an area where dignitaries of the city gathered to discuss political and religious affairs. The focal point of the square is the Giralda Tower, which marks the west side of the square. The tower was built in the twelfth century as a minaret for a grand mosque, but after the Reconquista by the Christians, it was converted into the bell tower of the Cathedral.
Virgen de los Reyes
Fuente de la Plaza Virgen de los Reyes
At the center of the Plaza de Virgen de los Reyes stands a monumental fountain and lamppost, created by José Lafita Diaz in 1925 for the Ibero-American exposition of 1929. The water-spouting heads are replicas of Roman grotesques found in the Casa de Pilatos.
To the north the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes is bordered by the Archbishop’s Palace, still actively used by the clergy. Construction of the building started in the sixteenth century. The Baroque facade with its profusely decorated entrance portal was added in the seventeenth century.
During the occupation in 1810 by the Napoleonic army, the palace was the seat of Marshal Soult, the commander of the French troops that had invaded Andalusia.
The interior of the palace, especially the main hall, is impressive. Inside the palace are a number of important works of art, including the earliest known painting from Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.
Convento de la Encarnación
Opposite the Archbishop’s Palace is the white facade of the Convento de la Encarnación, a convent founded in 1591 by the Augustinian order. It was built on the grounds of the fourteenth century Santa Marta Hospital and the convent is still commonly known as the Convent of Santa Marta.