SEVILLE where the tapa was invented is a city full of culture and architectural importance, of which Lord Byron was heard to say "A pleasant city, famous for its women and oranges". Have a drink and tapa in the Hostelleria de Laurel and they will take delight in informing you that Don Juan drank here!! The River Guadalquivir was once navigable this far making it the Capital of Andalusia, and when America was discovered the returning ships unloaded chocolate, turkeys, chillies, tomatoes, peppers and kidney beans for the first time.
Whilst this is very true, it's just the tip of the iceberg as SEVILLE has become one of the most visited cities in Spain due to its rich history, cosmopolitan atmosphere, and its enviable location around the River Guadalquivir; not to mention the year-round warm climate, its friendly inhabitants and its vast array of delicious tapas bars, fine fish restaurants and famed nightlife.
SEVILLE, along with CORDOBA and GRANADA, makes up the ANDALUCIAN triangle, a trio of must see cities that speak compellingly of Spain's Muslims and Catholic past.
One of the first things you notice about SEVILLE is that many of the buildings are golden yellow or pinkish red.
The yellow, according to history, symbolises gold, money and power, and the pinkish red is the city's emblematic colour.
The best way to see SEVILLE is on foot and start in the winding alleyways of the medieval Jewish quarter, Santa Cruz, where the doors are so extraordinarily tall (so that the Sevillanos could enter on horseback), white washed houses are built indecently close together to keep the cool.
Starting on the historic side of the city, it is home to some of the finest monuments and ancient sites in Spain, including the impressive cathedral, the rambling Alcazar gardens, the riverside Torre del Oro (Golden Tower), the banks of the Guadalquivir River, the Almohad walls, La Giralda and the famous La Maestranza bullring, the oldest bullring the world.
Explore the cities many barrios (districts) each with individual charm. MACARENA is so unique that it even has its own dialect and was once the poorest part of the city its 17th century barrios, beggars and urchins were models for Murillo's paintings. MACARENA is now the seat of officialdom of the Andalucian parliament and home to many beautiful churches such as Santa Catalina.
On the other side of the river, Triana, originally the heart of the gypsy community and the best place to listen to flamenco, provides a respite from the crowds and has a fabulous riverside views of the city's TORRE DEL ORO (GOLDEN TOWER), the GIRALDA, and the MAESTRANZA theatre from Calle Betis.
The top three cultural essentials are the CATHEDRAL, GIRALDA and the ALCAZAR, located in and around the Plaza de la Virgen de los Reyes. Built upon a huge base plan of a 12th century mosque the Cathedral is the largest Gothic temple in the world and third largest Cathedral after St Paul's in London.
Highlights include the main altar piece, the choir, the arts and collections and the tomb holding the remains of CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS. The minaret, the Gorada was built in 1184 by the Emperor of Morocco and is the city's famous landmark.
Climb the 40 floors of the concrete ramps, built so that Muezzin could ride up on horseback to call prayers, for a panoramic view of the city. Visit the city's oldest ceramic factory, over a century old, Ceramic Santa Ana at Plaza Cellao 12, and then a respite for some peace and quiet go to Parque del Minaria Luisa, a lush haven from the midday sun, with the centrepiece being the Plaza de Espana, a group of majestic buildings surrounded by water features.
The ALCAZAR (Plaza de Trifunio) is a series of palaces built in the 10th century and adapted in a succession of kings. The finest is Pedro del Leon, Pedro known as "Just" or "Cruel", where, depending on his mood, gave his judgement. One of the most beguiling mansions is the CASA DE PILATOS, thought to be an imitation of Pontius Pilates house. Gothic and Baroque architecture includes the church of San Salvador, built on the site of the city's first Friday mosque.
The story of CARMEN, the gypsy who worked in the city's cigar factory, is known worldwide and is set in SEVILLE. When CARMEN transfers her affections to a bullfighter she is stabbed to death by the jealous Don Jose outside the bullring, where there is now a statue dedicated to her.
FLAMENCO is huge in SEVILLE and there are two ways to enjoy this. Go to an organised show or hit ANSELMAat midnight, where the lights are dimmed, chairs put in a circle and the intoxicating rhythm of FLAMENCO begins.
There is so much to see and do in this vibrant exciting city, we have just given you a taste, come and stay awhile, you will never forget SEVILLE!
9 km north of Seville in the village of Santiponce is ITALICA, founded in 206 BC, a date which marks a landmark in Spanish history.
The amphitheatre is the largest structure at the archaeological site but it is only a small part of the original city.
Beyond the amphitheatre part of the excavated town has been left exposed, revealing wide streets with large, spacious houses decorated with some very fine mosaics.
If you look down on the street plan from the top of the hill you can appreciate the size of this city which was once the third largest in the Roman Empire. The remains continue under the modern village where a theatre and a bath suite can also be visited.
The layout we see today was largely due to the Emperor Hadrian and probably constructed to honour his adoptive father the Emperor Trajan. Both were born in Italica.
Meander into the SEVILLE countryside to visit some of the towns & villages. The pretty town of CAZALLA DE LA SIERRA boasts one of the best churches in the SIERRA MORENA, grand mansions, beautiful churches and, out of town, a 15th-century monastery that has been converted into a hotel.
CONSTANTINA is the largest town in the Sierra Norte Natural Park and was originally a Celtic settlement and an important Roman town. It has lots of Medieval character particularly in the maze of cobbled, steep streets in Barrio La Morería where you will also find pretty whitewashed houses and elegant 18th century mansions. Climb up to the ruined Moorish castle for some spectacular views.
Near Guadalcanal are several of the region's highest summits including La Capitana, from where there are great views over the Sierra and neighbouring Extremadura; one of the Sierra's many beautiful walks is from Guadalcanal to La Capitana peak.
LANTEJUELA is part of the highly protected area known as the Reserva Natural Complejo Endorreico de Lantejuela. Within this area you can find lakes surrounded by crop fields and you may also see birds such as storks, flamingos and geese. The town’s history dates back to Roman times.
Perched on top of one of the hills dotting the arable fields of La Campina is the town of Las Cabezas de San Juan. It overlooks the Guadalquivir wetlands and the Donana Natural Park. Just outside Las Cabezas de San Juan is the luxurious Hacienda de San Rafael, a former olive farm with a beautiful patio filled with bright bougainvillea. Enjoy the panoramic views over the surrounding vineyards from this pretty walled town. The focal point of the town is the Santa Maria de Oliva church which was built as a 12th century mosque and converted to a church by Alfonso X. Many original Islamic features survive.
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