A new view of Sevilla

It's finally open - the pasarela (walkway) on top of the Setas, otherwise known as Metropol Parasol, the mushroom-like amorphous structure of six linked shades in the centre of Seville. This is a building which has caused more controversy than anything since the Expo 92. It is claimed by the architect, Jurgen Meyer H, to be the largest wooden structure in the world, and also the largest structure held together by glue.

So was it worth the wait? Well, the view are stupendous. The walkway takes you around five of the six parasols, with 360-degree views of the city - you can easily spot the Giralda and the Cathedral, the Alamillo and Barqueta bridges, the Torre de los Perdigones, various churches, and old Expo 92 buildings, and the vista even stretches right up to the Aljarafe, the high area west of the city where I live.

Every section of the walkway is gently curved, part of the whole structure's trademark looping shape - even the benches on the plaza under the setas and the flower beds in the original square opposite have the same curvy design. It is on two levels - the first is where you get out of the lift, and where the panoramic restaurants will be, and the second, at the highest point of the entire structure, is the Mirador.

It's a gently inclined walkway, sloping up and down with shallow steps on the steepest bits. The crowning glory, literally in this case, is the mirador (viewing point), a large circular area at the very top of the structure. This is the main photo spot, and this morning when I visited, thoroughly over-excited to be seeing it at last, there were more Canon SLR cameras with zoom lenses than at a press call with Sr Monterseirin, our soon-to-be ex-mayor, the driving force behind this project.

Metropol Parasol has been slowly rolled out, so to speak; the ground floor market was inaugurated in December; the scaffolding was removed in April, allowing us to see the structure in its full glory; Plaza Mayor, the first-floor concert space, was opened soon after; now it's the Skywalk (although I haven't seen this name, from the original design proposal, used in the advertising), which, together with the Antiquarium archaeological museum, opened last week. Next, the ground-floor shops and restaurants next to the market, then finally the restaurants below the Mirador, though from what I could see when I peeked through the window, they've barely even started yet.

This walkway and mirador has been open for a week now, since last Tuesday, and my ticket was number 3672. With Feria last week, the visitor numbers have not been high, although it was claimed that 1000 visitors arrived on its opening day. Being English, I arrived just before 10am, when it opens (10am-2pm), and there was no queue. Weekends and evenings (hours are 5-9.30pm) will be much busier, and there are only two small lifts to accommodate those wishing to enjoy the marvellous views. So my tip would be: have an early breakfast and get there when it opens. Having said that, sunset from up there must be quite a sight.
And finally, if you do live in or near Seville, or are in the city this week, it's still free for a few days more (staff refused to confirm how many exactly, this being Spain). After that, Seville residents (ie with a city address on their DNI, or ID card) can get in gratis, and the rest of us have to pay 2 euros. Well worth the price - get thee to Plaza de Encarnacion now, and be uplifted to the pasarela - it's lovely and breezy too, perfect for a hot day.
Next up: the Antiquarium, which is closed Sundays and Mondays, so I couldn't visit it today. Although they have thoughtfully made the walls of glass, so I got a decent look at it while I was walking down the stairs to get to the lift.

Blog published on 9 May 2011