When construction workers in the old quarter of Seville unearthed a number of hitherto unsuspected Roman and Moorish buildings they were faced with a dilemma: preserve the ruins, or carry on with their construction work. Luckily for us they chose to excavate the buildings and turn them into a museum, then build an extravagant structure on top. The result was the Metropol Parasol, an extraordinary piece of architecture.
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.
The second layer of history is the Central Market, on the floor above the museum. Dating back to the 19th century, this floor includes shops and the city’s new indoor market. 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.