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The southern Spanish city of Seville, capital of the Andalusian region, known worldwide as the birthplace of Flamenco which they contrast with the phenomenal Easter celebrations that take place there every year. It’s been a Hollywood destination for many years as the architecture screams Spanish tradition and the city is filled with vibrant celebration all year round due to its blissful weather. From the plazas to the cathedrals and the innovative modern design, Seville will bring all your Spanish fantasies together in one short trip.
- Seville is the capital of the Andalusian region of Spain. The Andalusian region is one of the many autonomous communities that were created in agreement with the constitution to hand the power of each community back to those separate areas. There are presently 17 autonomous communities and 2 autonomous cities.
- The population of Seville is over 1.9 million and growing.
- The average temperature for this sought after destination is 25.4 degrees Celsius. The summer months usually enjoy the higher range of over 35 degrees in July and August. Generally the city is dry and perfect for sightseeing.
- Seville is home to the infamous sport of bullfighting. Although this sport originated in Spain it has become very controversial in recent years and mostly this event is for tourists only. The majority of Spaniards no longer agree with the practice.
- The locals go by the name of Sevillians.
- The population of Seville is similar to that of Spain with around 90% following the Christian faith. The rest of the city is made up of people who devote themselves to the faiths of Muslim, Hinduism, Buddhism and Atheism.
- Seville is known worldwide as having the most amount of orange trees in its city limits. There are over 25,000 trees in Seville.
- There are three universities in Seville, Universidad de Sevilla, University of Seville that were both founded in 1505 and then Loyola University of Andalusia. Alumni from these universities include the great poet and professor Pedro Salinas who authored over 25 books, plays and collections of verse throughout his forty year career, the poet and intellectual revolutionary Luis Cernuda, famous for saying ‘Everything beautiful has its moment then passes away’. One of the more well-known alumni, to some, is the screenwriter and film director Stephen Sommers who spliced together films like The Mummy, the Mummy Returns and the epic horror monster film that is Deep Rising.
- The speed limits in Seville and generally in most of Spain are 120 km/h for Autopista(Motorways), 100km/h Autovita(Dual carriageways) 90 km/h on single carriageway roads and 50km/h in towns. There are some inner city limits that drop down to 30km/h.
- Minimum age to drive a car is 18. Additional fees apply for under 25s when renting a car.
- The main body of water that runs through the city is the river Guadalquivir.
Guide to Seville
So many traditions that have been birthed here it is close to impossible to know where to enter this historical wonderland. Start with maybe a time of year for instance, if you wish to get there during an incredibly festive and busy time then April is best. Feria de Abril runs for a week during spring, typically the last week of April going into May. The fair was originally conceived as a livestock fair where the farmers would parade their best out into the surrounding streets, today it is a more encompassing festival with a circus, night of the fish, carriages of royalty are paraded along the streets, dancing, food and drink. With over 1000 casetas, striped tents, that house all the vendors, there is no end to the partying, all-nighters being the standard for the week.
Historical UNESCO sites
Seville is filled to the point of overflowing with historical sites and there is none more omnipresent than it’s monuments of which some are UNESCO world heritage sites. Donned the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world is Seville’s Cathedral, the total area occupied is 23,500 square metres with the Gothic portion being 126 metres in length. There are around 12 unique points of interest that include the Orange Tree Courtyard, The High Altar which dates back to 15th-16th Century and of course its most treasured of all sites the Tomb of Christopher Columbus. This is also the site of The Giralda which was originally built as the minaret (A balconied tower from which the call to prayer is heard) of the Aljama Mosque in 1195, now the bell tower of the Cathedral, the views will take your breath away. Not all the cathedrals are places of flooring grandeur there are a few in the list of over 100 in Seville that are worth a short excursion to, Basilica de la Macarena is home to the Virgin of Hope Macarena, this is a sacred spot for many of the cities diverse culture groups.
When in Seville you will of course wish to see some flamenco, it’s the birthplace of it after all, and you can start at Museo del baille Flamenco Sevilla also known as the Flamenco Dance Museum. Daily flamenco shows are performed and the space is filled with history fused with art telling the story of this hypnotic Spanish custom. Once you know the history and have seen the literal guide then hop into your car or a bus and head over to La Carboneria, it’s free entry and the food is simple but still delicious. The place itself appears to be more of an unplanned music hall but that is what the true Flamenco spirit is birthed from, here you get authenticity without the exorbitant price tag.
The city dates back to around 8th century BC. This is not the earliest known inhabitants of the land itself but the city as a construct was birthed around this date. There are stories that say the founder of this city was Hercules (Heracles), the mythological human son of Zeus, who as legend has it sailed through the strait of Gibraltar to the Atlantic founding trade spots along the way, Seville being one of them. The city is said to have been an island during those early years over 2200 years ago and was controlled at first by the Iberian people of Tartessos that were rich in metal. The city was taken over by romans and the evidence of this exists in the form of ruins throughout today. There are aqueducts, pillars and columns all dating back to when the control of the city was under roman rule, they named it Hispalis.
During the early 8th century it was taken over by the Moors and became the capital for the kings of the Umayyad Caliphate who held onto it for the better part of five centuries, this gave way to a lot of architecture that is present throughout the city today like the uniquely Moorish decorations of plants and small fountains in the central garden of a house. The most prominent examples of this design are in places such as Alcazar of Seville, the city walls and the UNESCO world heritage site Giralda, a cathedral that stands in the centre of modern Seville. The moors were overthrown during their final century as owners by the Castilians, more specifically the Christian King Ferdinand III of Castille and Leon. The siege lasted a drawn out fifteen months with the final blow being the destruction of the Triana Bridge, which was a vital life giving structure for those on either side of the river.
Seville owes much of its development today to its strategic positioning. When Christopher Columbus and crew set out on their journey to the new world, the most protected point to return with their new found riches was Seville. They would bring treasure back from all over the world and use Seville as a valued trading port for goods to funnel out into the rest of Spain.
Another boom time for this city was during the reign of Queen Isabel II, 1843 – 1868, when the Puenta de Isabel II Bridge (Puente de Triana) was built, a lot of the street lighting was introduced and this is also when the majority of the roads were paved. During the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939) the city was captured very early on, calls for revolution were swiftly silenced by the over bearing power of the government, going as far as taking a radio station, Seville Radio, that was calling for uprising from the workers and turning the station into a megaphone of propaganda.
The city has suffered being sacked, plague, socialist rule and flooding. The mid 1970s is when a democratic power was properly re-instated and the first municipal elections outside of Franco’s rule were had in 1979.
This is a truncated history of Seville with information that has been shortened for the purpose of this post. Some major details have been omitted.
Seville Airport (SVQ)
There is one main airport for Seville and that is Aeropuerto de Sevilla (Seville Airport – SVQ). It is located a little over 10 kilometres North East from the centre of the city and is about a 15 minute drive from the centre, dependent on traffic of course. This airport does accommodate international flight although most of the flights operating through here are domestic. The airport processes more than 5 million passengers a year. It is a single terminal airport with one level for departures and the other for arrivals. There are 42 check in counters and one VIP lounge, the Sala VIP Azahar located past security control. The ground floor in the main terminal building is where the car hire desks are situated, the operating companies are Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Alamo, Enterprise, Thrifty, Budget, OK rent a car and plenty more.
History of Seville Airport
The airport stands as a monument to the history of this Spanish city, with the design being inspired by the cultural roots of Seville. The design incorporates 3 main elements to prop up this story, the mosque, the palace and the famous orange trees. Arches at the main entrance point are inspired by the mosque and the palace, then an orange orchard, with its intoxicating perfume, greets passengers preparing them for a city of adventure. The airport was originally built as a training hub for the military in 1914, they built an aerodrome for their purposes, around 1919 the commercial operation of the airport began. During the Spanish civil war the airport became the arrival point for African troops.
Expansion over the years has been constant at SVQ with new runways being built about every ten years. There is now a program that was started in 2019 to further this development due to the increase in passenger traffic.
Food & Drink
Speaking of food and after a late night out the morning after calls for a traditional Churro breakfast, a favourite of locals and tourists alike is Bar El Comerico, it has your typical outlook of a tapas place but the coffee and churros make it a destination for that all important first meal of the day. There’s a spot that is a traditional tapas house but with some added innovation, La Chunga Tapas, the menu is not exhaustive and they have the culinary mystery Solemello de cerdo al whisky, pork in a whisky sauce, a dish that the origins are not known specifically but your mouth will revel in its creation. Third on this little list, which isn’t even close to the never ending amount of bars and restaurants on offer in this sunny city, is Casa Morales, a family run tapas and wine bar that fronts like a bodega, the heavy wood and vast selection of wines will have you swooning from the old time romanticism and the Pulpo or Bacalao fritters fill your stomach faster than you can order them.
All this eating, drinking, dancing and sightseeing should easily have brought you to the end of a successful day so why not take a load off, go and watch the sunset. There’s a wooden structure called Sevilla Mushrooms which took five years to make at a cost of over €103 million, it is the largest wooden structure in the world set out over 3 levels with one of them being the 28.5 metres above street level, viewing platform, a favoured spot for everyone to watch the sunset so get there early.
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