According to some internet searches, fungal truffles can cost around £1 per gram to purchase, and Psilocybin mushrooms – more commonly known as Magic Mushrooms or Shrooms – can be as much as £10 per gram depending on the illicit dealer one is buying them from (apparently). These prices may seem high, but become insignificant compared to the price of Seville’s ‘Incarnation’s Mushrooms’.
Due to its fungus-like shape from below, the Metropol Parasol – a huge wooden structure that stands in Seville’s Plaza de la Encarnación – has been nicknamed locally as Las Setas de la Encarnación: Incarnation’s Mushrooms. Although the final figure has never been confirmed, it is believed the structure completed in 2011, cost a whopping €100 million (around £90 million) to construct. Unsurprisingly, the rumours over its hefty price tag have made what is essentially a fancy platform to enjoy panoramic views of the city from, rather controversial.
The motive to build the structure was to create local jobs and to encourage tourists to venture a short distance north-west of Seville’s Old Town and visit the once run-down neighbourhood in which the structure can now be found. The newly paved space created underneath the structure has certainly attracted skate-boarders to use it as an unofficial free skate-boarding track. The small underground shopping complex directly below the structure and the Roman ruins discovered during the building of the structure’s foundations have also brought a new wave of visitors and diners to the area. But, access to the upper level of the structure – if one can find it – is the true tourist draw.
Visitors can walk around the uneven upper level via a network of swirling walkways and steps running across the top of it. Sensible shoes and making good use of the hand rails are advised as I saw one young lady howling with agony on twisting her ankle up there when her high heel did not give her the necessary balance and support to walk along the walkways without incident. Part of the walkway network is wheelchair- and pushchair friendly, but sadly not all of it. Looking at the layout, I do not understand why the designer Jürgen Mayer could not have made it fully accessible as it does look possible.
The views across Seville seen from here are indeed breath-taking, but the structure itself from this level is also – in my opinion – rather beautiful, particularly as the sun is setting. The constantly changing patterns of light and shade created across the honeycomb surface as the day’s light changes is delightful, and rather distracting from the panoramic views.
Of course, not everyone sees beauty in the structure and many find the exceptionally modern appearance not just ugly but jarring next to the Spanish city’s more traditional surrounding architecture. Yet, like it or loathe it, the Metropol Parasol does generate a great deal of curiosity and is certainly worth the few Euros to enter it.
The Metropol Parasol is a short and rather pleasant walk north of the Cathedral and Alcázar. There is no metro station nearby, but catching the number 32 bus from either Nervión metro station or Santa Justa train station passes very close to the structure. Alight at Imagen – Plaza Encarnación.
Opening hours are (2017) between 1000 – 2300 daily (except on major holidays). The entrance fee is (2017) €1.35.
The entrance is via the underground shopping arcade underneath the structure. This is not made very clear at street level, but persevere. Take the nearby escalator down and the ticket office is next to the Roman ruins. Then take the lift to the upper level. When I visited the structure back in September 2016, I was able to exchange my entrance ticket for either a soft drink or beer from the small restaurant on the upper level next to the lift. Hopefully, this offer is still available.
There is no need to book tickets in advance, but visitor numbers can be high during the day. When this is the case, access is controlled and there may be a short wait the reach the upper level. I arrived just before sunset and was allowed straight up.
It is worth visiting the structure more than once at different times of the day just to see how its appearance changes as the day goes on. After sunset the whole structure is lit up from underneath.
Here is a very short video I made of the structure to give a better idea of how beautiful it can be.
Seville … the Alcázar and the Plaza de España
Málaga … a touch of Granada’s Alhambra and Seville’s Alcázar without the heaving crowds