Area Guide - Seville
The city of Seville is on the great River Guadalquivir, the only navigable river in Spain. Be ready for the sights, sounds and senses of one of the most proud and fascinating cities in the whole of Europe. It has a formidable heritage. A settlement since pre-historic times, it was colonised by the Romans in the 2nd Century BC. Two of Rome’s Emperors, Trajan and Hadrian, were born at nearby Italica.
Modern Seville, with its orange-tree lined streets, sunshine, superb food and great shopping, is crammed with wonders. The most famous is the Cathedral, the largest in the world, bigger than St Paul’s in London or St Peter’s in Rome. It houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus. La Giralda is the soaring Moorish tower that stands beside the Cathedral. The view from the top is well worth the easy walk up wide ramps, built for horses to carry their riders to the top. From the balcony of the high tower you can marvel at the elegance of the architecture, gardens, plazas, river and bridges far below you.
The Alcázar is a splendid Moorish palace with lofty rooms and halls, intricately tiled and balconied. It has breathtaking gardens with pools, fountains and cascades of purple bougainvillea. If you are short of time the garden alone is worth a visit. Leading from the Alcázar, off the Patio de Banderas, is the Judería area, also called the Barrio Santa Cruz. Its narrow cobbled alleys are crammed with interest and many inviting bars and restaurants serve the tasty little dishes of tapas, for which Seville is renowned. Calle Mateos Gago is great for tapas bars. Plaza Santa Cruz and Plaza Alfaro are charming Spanish squares. You can see flamenco here too. Mostly they are late night shows, but someone will always call you a taxi, even at 3 in the morning.
The Casa de Pilatos is an exquisite Sevillian palace with tiled courtyards and fountains. Close by is the Tobacco Factory, where the gypsy girls worked, made famous in Bizet’s opera ‘Carmen’. Now it is part of the University of Seville.
The Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold) is the tall circular tower you can see on the banks of the Guadalquivir. This tower used to be covered with gold tiles. Now it is gilded by the sun. This was where the treasures of the newly discovered Americas were offloaded.
If you are in Seville in May, for La Feria, you will never forget it. You will not see such a proud parade of fine horses, shining carriages, beautiful women, handsome men or charming children anywhere else in the world. The whole city and folk from the surrounding towns immerse themselves in music, dancing, eating and drinking, meeting friends and family, making business deals. The party lasts for a whole week. The atmosphere is electric; thrilling, you will be swept along with these Andalucians on a tide of happiness.
How do you describe a city like Seville? Romantic, dazzling, brilliant Seville. So old, so civilised and yet so wild. Being there makes you feel good. You feel as welcome as its own contented Spanish crowds. Seville is a treat for everyone to share.