Beautiful Seville, voted in 2018 the Lonely Planet’s number 1 City to visit, is a colourful and stylish City with impressive buildings, parks, great tapas and most of all ‘fun’.
It definitely has the ‘Wow’ factor.
With one of the world’s largest Cathedrals, Mudéjar Islamic style Palaces, majestic fountains, winding narrow lanes, a day in Seville passes in the blink of an eye.
Once the wealthiest City in Europe, as a result of trade with the Americas, Seville is located on the banks of the Gualquivir river which empties into the Atlantic, some 80km to the west, making Seville once the most inland port in Europe.
The ‘Reales Alcázares de Sevilla are’ the oldest Royal Palaces in Europe still in use. Built in the style of the Alhambra Palaces, they are spectacular and a delight to visit.
The ‘Sevillanos’, people of Seville, love to sing and party and truly know how to enjoy themselves.
Sevilla (Seville) is the capital of the autonomous region of Andalucía. It has a municipal population close to 700,000 and a metropolitan population of 1.5 million, making it the fourth largest City in Spain after Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia.
Original founded by the Romans, it was called Hispalis and was taken by the Muslim conquest in 712 and renamed Ishbiliyya.
In 1147, the Almohad (Muwahhid) Islamic Sect (meaning ‘Those who profess the unity of God’) invaded al-Andalus and made Ishbiliyya their centre.
Great constructors, they built the famous Giralda Tower that looms over the City, now the Cathedral Bell Tower, but once the Minaret of the Great Mosque, which was mainly destroyed as part of the construction of the large Cathedral. The Patio of the Oranges, some original walls and some entrances into the original Mosque are all that remain.
As the economic centre of trade with the Americas, Seville grew extremely wealthy opening a new Golden Age of arts and literature. Beautiful impressive Baroque Buildings were built and wealthy merchants commissioned mansions for themselves and their families.
The narrow lanes of the colourful Barrio Santa Cruz district, the old Jewish Quarter, are known as the ‘kissing lanes’ since the balconies of the buildings either side of the lanes nearly touch each other.
Opening into pretty little plazas, it is a lovely place to meander.
There are three Unesco World Heritage sites in the old quarter: The Alcázar Palaces, the Cathedral (the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world) and the General Archive of the Indies which houses the National Archives, including details of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the Americas.
In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan departed from Seville for the first circumnavigation of the Earth.
When the Guadalquiver river silted up in 18th century and became no longer navigable, the merchants and trade moved and relocated to Cadiz, deserting Seville and leaving it to enter a serious decline.
The incredible Plaza España, built as part of the 1929 Ibero-Americana exposition, has been the setting for several hit movies, including Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars.
Unfortunately though, the exhibition failed to restore trade and its fortunes, but the City has more recently recovered from investment in new industries, services, tourism and the University.
The Alcázar Palaces are also star of the glittering screen having been some of the Palaces in Game of Thrones and also the Palaces of Jerusalem in the 2005 Ridley Scott Epic ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’.
Known as the City of Opera, Seville is the setting for around 100 operas, the most famous, surely, being ‘Carmen’. Renowned composers such as Beethoven, Bizet, Mozart, Rossini and Verdi have all been inspired by this fabulous City.