What would you do if you were digging the foundations for a new car park and you came across something unexpected? We all heard the furore when the remains of a long lost king were found in England last year, but something similar happened when construction workers in the old quarter of Seville unearthed a number of hitherto unsuspected Roman and Moorish buildings. For them the solution was simple: excavate the buildings and turn them into a museum, then build an extravagant structure on top.
The Ancient Houses of the Antiquarium
The ruins beneath turned out to belong to buildings spanning a huge period from the first century BC to the 12th century AD. The basement Antiquarium allows visitors to see seven houses from different eras, with restored mosaic floors, original columns and wells, as well as parts of the old streets and even some fish salting vats.
Above the museum are shops and the city’s new indoor market, and above this is a huge public plaza designed for entertainments, or just for sitting and meeting friends on a warm day.
The whole lot is topped off by the Metropol Parasol. A massive parasol in the shape of six giant mushrooms, this is supposedly the largest wooden structure in the world. What is startling about this is not just the weird design, but the fact that you can actually walk over the Parasol. Strolling along the strangely undulating pathways towards a viewpoint, you can take in spectacular views of the city before stopping in the rooftop café for tapas and a drink.
It wasn’t very crowded when we went, because it’s new enough not to be in most of the guidebooks yet, but I can see this becoming a big tourist attraction.