by Fiona Flores Watson
This tree-lined square is the heart of Seville - located at the top of Avenida de la Constitucion, it sits centrally between the shopping area, Arenal and the river, Alfalfa, and the monumental zone and is home to the Ayuntamiento, the Town Hall.
With its shady palm and orange trees, and plenty of benches around the outside, Plaza Nueva is a popular meeting place for everyone from visitors to older residents in the mornings, and families in the afternoons and at weekends.
Pride of Place
Taking pride of place in the centre of the square is a statue of King Fernando III, also known as San Fernando, who reconquered the city from the Moors in 1248. The floor around the statue is of pretty coloured granite and marble .
From around 1270 until 1840 the area which is now Plaza Nueva was occupied by the Convento Casa Grande de San Francisco. The convent covered a large space, extending beyond the square itself as far as the top of Calle Zaragoza, with huge grounds. The only remaining parts of the convent are the tiny 16th century baroque San Onofre chapel, on the south side, which is open 24 hours a day, and the elaborately-carved archway at the southern end of the Ayuntamiento. These centuries of existence are maintained in name of the the historic plaza behind the Ayuntamiento - Plaza San Francisco, where the prison holding Cervantes was located, and where the autos da fe of the Inquistion, based in Seville, were held.
A hotel with more than 150 years of History
At one end of the plaza is the Hotel Inglaterra, a four-star establishment which opened in 1857 and occupies the site of the convent's vegetable gardens; sadly, its historic façade was removed in the 1970s. The roof terrace bar offers great views of the plaza, Ayuntamiento, and the Cathedral. You can read all about the history of the Hotel Inglaterra here
Overlooking Plaza Nueva, the elegant historic Hotel Inglaterra is just 250 metres from Seville Cathedral. Its air-conditioned rooms feature classic-style décor, and include a private balcony. The rooms at Hotel Inglaterra have wooden floors and a safe.
The Town hall
The Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) is situated at the other end of the square from the hotel, closest to Avenida de la Constitution, and backing onto Plaza San Francisco. This is where the City Mayor has his office; weddings and formal receptions take place inside, while political protests and demonstrations are sometimes held in front of the building.
Shopping and transport
Around the square are designer shops such as Loewe and Carolina Herrera. At Christmas the orange trees in the square are lit up, as well as the Ayuntmiento's façade and clock, giving the building a fairytale atmosphere. Markets held in the square throughout the year include book fairs and artesan markets at Christmas.
On the south side of the square is the terminus for MetroCentro, Seville's tram system which starts in San Bernardo and goes past the Prado, along Calle San Fernando to Puerta Jerez, and up Avenida de la Constitucion. If you need a taxi, the rank is opposite the Hotel Inglaterra.
For newspapers, magazines, drinks and snacks, you'll find several kiosks at either end of the square. A French patisserie in the same block as th hotel, Colette, offers amazing bread, quiches, macaroons and dainty desserts.
You can find plenty of good tapas bars close to Plaza Nueva, for example La Corona and Becerrita towards the Arenal, Albarama on Plaza San Francisco, Mamarracha and its sister Oveja Negra between Plaza San Francisco and the Cathedral, and El Porton just above Plaza San Francisco.