Seville is the artistic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir. The inhabitants of the city are known as Sevillanos. Seville is more than 2,000 years old. The passage of the various civilizations, instrumental in its growth, has left the city a distinct personality, and a large and well-preserved historical center. Although it has a strong medieval, renaissance and baroque heritage, the city received heavy influences from Arabic culture.
Brief HistoryThe city was known from Roman times as Hispalis. The nearby Roman city of Italica, a mainly residential city at the time, is well-preserved and gives an impression of how Hispalis may have looked in the later Roman period, especially when taken in context with the excavation evidence from the nearby city of Carmona. Existing Roman features in Seville include the remnants of an aquaduct. Following were successive conquests of the Roman province of "Hispania Baetica" by the Vandals and the Visigoths during the 5th and 6th centuries.
After the conquest of Seville by the Moors, Seville was taken by the Muslim in 712 and renamed Isbilya (إشبيلية). (from the 8th to 13th centurie). In 1248 forces of King Fernando 3 rdIof Castile won victory in Seville's chapter of the peninsula's Catholic Reconquista (reconquest). Many original Moorish elements remain, including public structures, the urban fabric in the historic district, and large sections of the fortified city wall. The Moorish aesthetic and urban influences continued and are very present in contemporary Seville, a legacy appreciated by scholars and travelers; the Cathedral, Alcazar, and Archivo de Indias are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Following the 1492 Christopher Columbus expedition to The New World a golden age of development' commenced, due to being the only port awarded the royal monopoly for trade with and riches from the growing Spanish colonies in the Americas. Since only sailing ships leaving from and returning to Seville could engage in trade with the Spanish Americas, merchants from Europe and other trade centers needed to go to Seville to acquire New World trade goods. The city's population grew to nearly a million people in the first hundred years after Columbus. The city's development continued, mainly due to its economical position in the Kingdom of Casille, with the construction of public buildings including churches, many of which are in Mudejar style. The Moors' Palace became the Castilian royal residence, the Alcazar of Seville, with the monarchs only adding on for their own needs. The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence and are administered by the Patrimonio Nacionál. The Gotihic architecture of the Seville Cathedral was built during the 15th century. Its Bell Tower, the Giralda, was built up from the Minaret of the original grand Mosque
Popular tourist destination
Seville, or Sevilla in Spanish, is one of the most popular destinations in Spain. Seville is the spiritual home of both Flamenco and bullfighting and it has some of the most beautiful gardens and buildings in all of Spain. Its Semana Santa celebrations at Easter are famous the world over as well the impressive Feria de abril de Sevilla, literally Seville April Fair. The fair generally begins two weeks after the Semana Santa, or Easter Holy Week.
The Seville April Fair officially begins at midnight on Monday, and runs six days, ending on the following Sunday. During past fairs, however, many activities have begun on the Saturday prior to the official opening. Each day the fiesta begins with the parade of carriages and riders, at midday, carrying Seville's leading citizens which make their way to the bullring, La Real Maestranza, where the bullfighters and breeders meet.
For the duration of the fair, the fairgrounds and a vast area on the far bank of the Guadalquivir River are totally covered in rows of Casetas (individual decorated marguee tents which are temporarily built on the fairground). Some of these casetas belong to the prominent families of Seville, some to groups of friends, clubs, trade associations or political parties. From around nine at night until six or seven the following morning, at first in the streets and later only within each caseta, you will find crowds partying and dancing "Sevillanas", drinking Jerez sherry, or Manzanilla wine, and eating tapas.
Flamenco draws on a lot of influences. There is definitely a strong Moorish presence in the music, but flamenco also owes a lot to Jewish and gypsy music. Following the end of the Reconquista in 1492, the persecution of gypsies, Moors and Jews was stepped up, which pushed the ethnic minorities closer together. They started performing music together and gradually flamenco was born. There are so many venues to see flamenco in Seville that you'll have difficulties deciding which one to visit. "Tablaos" are generally speaking where you'll find a very formal and excellent performance, whereas the "Flamenco bars" will normally be a bit more informal and more 'authentic. Most of the flamenco bars in Seville have quite a relaxed atmosphere, but others are a little more elite. Still, the setting is likely to be much less formal than the "Tablaos."
Santa Cruz is the most famous and touristy part of Seville. One of the main attractions is the Seville Cathedral, The largest gothic cathedral in the world. Some other attractions are :The Giralda, the former Muslim minaret is now a part of Seville's cathedral and represents a fascinating clash of civilizations. Seville's Alcazar, Royal palace and fortress, like a mini Alhambra. If you can't make it to Granada for its larger counterpart, you won't be disappointed with Seville's smaller version. Casa de Pilatos, an impressive house built in a combination of Italian Renaissance and mudejar styles. Archivo General de las Indias, Historical documentation of Spain's colonial exploits. A World Heritage Site. The Seville Flamenco Museum, housed in a restored 18th-century building, minutes from the Cathedral of Seville, the museum's entrance opens into an Andalucían patio, which showcases its monthly flamenco shows and private events. Several upstairs exhibition spaces are scented with exotic fragrances to complement the various cultures, from India to the Caribbean, that have influenced flamenco. An antique wood scent surrounds the costumes' room where the red dress worn at the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony performance is on display, as are others that depict the evolution of flamenco costumes. The flamenco museum in Seville also does Flamenco classes. Group flamenco classes for one hour, one week or longer are offered, as are private flamenco or guitar classes
Macarena, an historically important district of Seville is now a poorer part of town with less tourists walking round it - but it's still worth a visit. You'll find there the most beautiful and extravagant plaza in Seville: The Plaza de España with next to it the attractive Parque de Maria Luisa with a very nice botanical garden.The museo Archeologico with its neo-Renaissance exterior. The museum of popular art and customs, the Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares. where as well regular flamenco shows are among the attractions here.
Triana is known for being Seville's gypsy quarter, hence the prevalence of flamenco bars in the area. A little poorer than many districts on the other side of the river, it is still a safe place to wander around. Interesting parts include Plaza Altozano, Calle Castilla with its attractive churches and the ceramic workshops. Near Triana, in the north there is the Andalusian Contemporary Art Center, The Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo which has excellent art and photography collections.
Arenal is the area between the cathedral and the waterfront. Most tourists pass it by despite it being so close to the more famous sights. Here you'll find the Torre de Oro, by the river, a short walk from Avenida de Constitucion and the Cathedral. The Torre de Oro (or Golden Tower in English) is an 800-year-old watchtower on the riverfront in Seville. Today it is home to a naval museum. After you've seen the tower, walk along the riverside, stopping for drinks in one of the many cafes on the way.
Seville is undoubtedly one of the most interesting places to spend a long-weekend or your holidays, you will never get bored!