Head to the southern province of Andalusia and there discover its capital city, Seville. For in Seville you will find the breathtaking contrast of the old and the modern standing in compliment to each other. And a remarkable heritage which is perhaps unsurpassed. Today, Seville is regarded as an important centre for arts and culture. From the futuristic infrastructure of the airport and transport links, created for the World Fair in 1992, to the ancient palace and cathedral, the city resonates with the endeavours of its citizens over the centuries. Be prepared to explore the city’s major attractions. The main pedestrianised shopping centre and the quaint narrow streets of the old Jewish quarter in the Bario de Santa Cruz. Not to be missed is the Metropol Parasol, a large wooden sculpture created by the artist Jurgen Mayer, completed in 2012 and located at La EncarnaciÒn Square.
Take a stroll through Seville’s town square, the Plaza Nueva with it’s magnificent statue of King Ferdinand III, fondly commemorated for freeing Seville from the Moors in the 13th century.
In the past, Seville was referred to as the Gateway to the New World and in the 16th century, shipments from Spain’s dominions brought riches beyond dreams to the city. The city’s 16th century Gothic cathedral reflects this wealth. It stands on the site of an earlier mosque, testament to Spain’s turbulent past at the hands of the Moors, who swept into Seville in 711 AD and ruled Spain for five centuries. It is the third largest church in Europe and took 104 yrs to complete. Inside you will find ornate gilded decoration commissioned to attest to the vast wealth pouring into the city at that time. The Cathedral also holds the imposing tomb of the Christopher Columbus.
The Giraldo, a towering former minaret belonging to the old mosque was saved from demolition and re purposed as a bell tower for the cathedral.
After visiting the cathedral, head over to the Royal Alcázar of Seville. Venture through the Puerta del León and step into the historic palace. Originally built during the Moorish Almohad Dynasty it later became the king’s palace. Today, the upper levels of the palace are still used by the Spanish royal family. Then take a walk through the gardens with their cooling fountains and tropical flowers. Not to be missed on a visit to the Alcázar is the famous Maiden’s Courtyard, otherwise known as the Patio de las Doncellas. The name has its origins in the legend that the Moors demanded 100 virgins every year as tribute from Christian kingdoms in Iberia
Another landmark popular with visitors and the Sevillanos is the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza on Paseo de Colon. Here are held the controversial bullfights. If the performances are not to your taste, a visit to the adjoining bullfighting museum and exhibitions will give an insight into this sport that lies at the heart of Spanish Culture.
After a day spent entranced by the sights, what better than to experience a taste of the true culture of the city. Seville is a city that oozes charm and the Sevillanos are some of the most charming people in Spain. Let them welcome you to their flamboyant and lively culture with the real magic of Carmen and Don Juan, for Seville is best enjoyed through its traditions. On a cool evening take in the rat-a-tat rhythm of a foot tapping and castanet clicked Flamenco in the Triana district. Enjoy the food, particularly the famous Tapas.
Seville is truly an enchanting city. A visit will leave a lasting memory and an urge to return as soon as possible. The famous poet, Antonio Gala once said: “The issue is not that Sevillanos think they live in the most beautiful place on Earth… even worst it’s the fact that they may be right in thinking so”