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The Magic of Seville

Updated on February 15, 2017

Seville's Old Center

The Giralda in Seville
The Giralda in Seville | Source

The Magic that is Seville

The magic of Seville is that it seems to have leapt to life yesterday but in reality contains so much of the Western world's chaotic history: The Moors. Columbus. Ferdinand and Isabella. Cervantes. The banishment of the Jews and the Moors. The Inquisition. Colonial America. The Riches of the Indies. Discoveries and Explorations. The Strutting Pomposity of Grandees, Corridas and Fiestas, Palaces and Basilicas.

Seville's Magic

Entrance to the Alcazar
Entrance to the Alcazar | Source

What is Magic about Seville

Over 2000 years old, this capital of Andalusia, is a vibrant city teeming with history that demands to be explored, understood and celebrated. Yes, celebration seems at the heart of this glorious city with its restaurants, cafes, museums and historical landmarks teeming with tourists and locals alike. Its Old City Centre boasts of 3 Unesco World Heritage Sites: The Alcazar, the Cathedral, and the General Archives of the Indies which, in colonial times, housed the merchant's exchange of Seville and is now a repository of archival documents on the history of the Spanish Empire in the Americas and the Philippines.

Seville is truly one of Europe's great walking cities especially for Seniors who prefer flat ground. Even the great basilicas can become a bit bland after seeing dozens but Seville's Cathedral with the slashing sunlight through the stain glassed windows will waken the spirit of even jaded travellers.

The Alcazar is the perfect balance to the Cathedral adding the Moorish architecture and history that gave the city its magic. And over all of these, the silver of the New World paints a richness that is almost beyond belief. On the other hand, there's a sense of peacefulness through the heart of the city growing from the beautiful gardens of Maria Luisa, the spaciousness of its cobbled streets and the whispering of the Guadalquivir River floating the massive history that is Seville's burden as well as its joy.

What Gives Seville its Magic

The Alzazar and the Cathedral
The Alzazar and the Cathedral | Source

Top Places to See in Seville

We arrived in Seville the week of Christmas and the city is at its shopping frenzy for last minute Christmas gifts. But when night came, it displayed its magic. The city was fully lighted with huge creatively designed lights unseen by us before. It was a treat as we just finished work in Buddhist country that does not go crazy about Christmas.

Every street in the centre of the city is magnificent with either huge stars or huge gifts in lights inviting tourists to stroll and peak at what it offers. Our senses were fully engaged as we strolled the streets and smelt the waffling of saffron laden dishes and honey coated sweets.

The Cathedral of Seville

Cathedral in Seville
Cathedral in Seville | Source

1. The Cathedral of Seville

It was here that the Murascos and Marranos were baptized by bishops who simply went around sprinkling holy water and reciting the Sacrament. This, of course, was an act of folly as many converted out of fear but continued to secretly practice Islam. Let us delicately sidestep the Inquisition and its distressing memories.

The largest cathedral in the world and the third biggest Church, next to The Basilica of Our Lady of the Aparecida and St. Peter's Basilica, the Cathedral was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

Built on the Almohad Mosque site, the Cathedral still retained two Moorish features: the Giralda which was once a minaret and is now a bell tower and the Moorish entrance to the Patio de los Naranjos.

Housed in Cathedral is the tomb of the famous explorer, Christopher Columbus. His remains were once in Havana where he died but during the Cuban crisis, they were transferred here. Also here lie the remains of Fernando III, who wove together a culture in which the Jewish, Moorish and Christian communities lived comfortably together.

The Garden in the Alcazar in Seville
The Garden in the Alcazar in Seville | Source

2. The Alcazar Royal

The Alcazar dazzled us well beyond our expectations. On first arrival, the Cathedral took our attention because of its flamboyant exterior and given the line up for The Alcazar, we decided to visit on another day early in the morning before the crowds arrived. The early morning decision was clearly the right one.

As you enter The Alcazar, you are immediately transported to the old Moorish world in Spain up to the 15th century when they're asked to convert or leave. With the christian take over, the Alcazar was expanded and today is really a network of palaces.

The Alcazar gardens were truly amazing. Following the Islamic architectural tradition. These are vast, replete with water fountains and ponds and beautifully laid out right in the middle of the city. If only the trees can speak, the tales of romance and intrigues, of power play and chivalry, of pains and sorrows would fill books.

Ferdinand and Isabella were married right in here and you can see the place where the wedding took place.

The Giralda and the Alcazar

Seville
Seville | Source

3. The Giralda

Rising to 104.1 m., La Giralda is one of the most recognized symbols of Seville. Built as a Muslim Minaret in 1184 under architect Ahmad Ben Baso, it was completed on March 10, 1198. When the Christians took over upon the completion of the Reconquista, this became the Cathedral's bell tower with a one-ton weather vane. It is also claimed that the famous mathematician and astronomer, Jabir ibn Aflah, was responsible for its design.


Watch the Semana Santa in Seville

4. Triana

A lively neighbourhood in the West bank of the Guadalquivir, Triana has developed its own character attracting tourists who like to experience the more quirky side of the city. This is where real people live while the Court popinjays fluttered about on the on the other side of the river. With its tile factory and traditional pottery, it is popular to souvenir hunters. But what makes it more mysterious are the legends around its name. One story claims that this city was founded as a Roman colony by Emperor Trajan himself. Thus, the name. But others insist it is because of its being in the Guadalquivir which branches into three here. So, tri means 3 and ana which means river.

This neighbourhood dates back to its origin as a Roman colony. During the Muslim rule, it further developed around a Castle which became the first Church, San Jorge. This Church was also the seat of the Inquisition and still maintains today an Inquisition museum.

Many bull fighters and flamenco dancers lived in the area so it is appropriate that Triana's traditional gateway from the bridge is the Altozano square has its monument to the renowned bullfighter, Juan Belmonte and the flamenco arts. As well, bands of Gitanos used to live here in what was called Corrales. While this is no longer true, a few of these Corrales are now protected as part of Triana's cultural heritage.

Plaze de Espana

Plaza de Espana
Plaza de Espana | Source

5. Maria Luisa Park and the Plaza de Espana

Designed by Jean Claude Nicolas Forestier, the Parque de Maria Luisa with its half mile of gardens, pavilions, palms and ponds, fountains and beautifully stylized flower beds is an oasis in Seville. In here, is the Plaza de España built for the Ibero-American exhibition in 1929. Mainly used as government offices now, its tiled Alcoves of the Provinces give a graphic description of Spain. The grand mansions built for this exhibition have now been made into museums containing Seville's archaeology collections. Do not miss this.

Guadalquivir River
Guadalquivir River | Source

6. Guadalquivir

This is the only navigable river in Spain. In colonial times, it was very busy as the artery bringing the flow of riches to the heart of the great empire. Imagine the galleons leaving to decimate the New World and coming back with holds filled with silver and jewels.

A boat tour of this very significant river is really interesting. Not only will you see some of the monuments of the city from a different view but also give you a sense of how important is this river to the city and to Spain as a whole.

Guadalquivir
Guadalquivir | Source

7. Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza

Certainly one of the most visited places in Seville, the Corrida hosts the regular bullfights which peak during the Feria de Abril and last till September. With its impressive Baroque façade, this Catedral del Toro accommodates 14,000 people and its acoustics allow for this number of people to hear everything wherever they're seated.

Jackie Kennedy Watching a Bullfight in Seville

Seville

The Top Places to See in Seville

If you're only able to see one place in Seville, what would it be?

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Your Guide to Seville and Andalusia

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Seville & Andalusia
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Seville & Andalusia

When you travel to Seville, most likely you will go to other places in Andalusia so getting this book is better. It gives you pictures and recommendations not just of places to see in Seville but also the other places worth visiting in Andalusia.

get your copy so you can easily prepare your itinerary, mark your own must see places and your own notes.

 
Seville
Seville | Source

Significant Events in Seville's History

Year
Event
Significance
712
The Moslem Conquest
Seville came under the Muslim Caliphate
1248
Reconquista
Christians took over Seville from the Moors
1403
Cathedral
 
1492
Columbus Expedition to the New World
Seville profited from goods imported from the New World
1519
Magellan departed from Seville
First circumnavigation of the world
1649
The Great Plague of Seville
Population decimated by half
1758
Publication of the first newspaper, Hebdomario útil de Seville
Seville became the Dean of the Spanish Provincial Press
1929
Ibero-American Exposition
Cultural milestone for Seville
1930
The Spanish Civil War
The Nationalists led by General Franco won over the Republicans making Franco rule Spain from April 1939 until his death in November 1975.
Source

Other Interesting Facts about Seville

  • Operas set in the city: The Barber of Seville (Rossini), Fidelio (Beethoven), The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni (Mozart), and Carmen (Bizet)
  • In 1596 and 1600, Miguel de Cervantes lived here. He worked as a purveyor in the Spanish Armada and later as a tax collector and landed in prison in here. One of his famous comedies, Rinconete y Cortadillo, depicted two vagabonds attracted to Seville, a highly preposterous city at that time.

Seville's Riches Displayed in The Alcazar

Interior of the Alcazar
Interior of the Alcazar | Source

What and Where to Eat in Seville

When you're in Spain, you can't but have the best tapas in the world. In Seville, to have a taste of this top Spanish favourite, go to Bar-Restaurante Eslava where you can enjoy with your cerveza (Spanish beer) lentil pottage with chorizo, baby hake, stuffed chicken, the white tiny, crunchy fish called pijotas fritos or any other items in their menu that take your palate. Another restaurant to sample tapas is the Vineria San Telmo in Paseo Catalina de Ribera 4 where you can order their Skyscraper. I will not tell you what's in it. Surprise yourself.

My other favourite Spanish delicacy is the Ceviche. In Nikkei Bar in Calle Calatrava, you can order this dish which they make from sea bass and octopus marinated in a spicy lemon sauce. You can also try their slow cooked egg with truffles.

If you're a meat eater, try the lamb chops with almond couscous in conTenedor in Calle San Luis.

For those of you who are more adventurous, try the stewed pig's cheek or the cockles with mini artichokes in Dos de Mayo, Plaza de la Gavidia.

Seville has so many restaurants to satisfy any palate but if you're like me, go to Corte Ingles (a supermarket) and ask for their best Jamon Iberico, Jamon Serrano, and Jamon Bellota. Buy these with their best Cerveza and enjoy an evening in your hotel room looking out at the bustling crowd in the streets.

Actors in the Streets of Seville
Actors in the Streets of Seville | Source

Two Major Events in Seville

1. Semana Santa

Nowhere in the world is the Semana Santa (Holy Week/Easter) better celebrated than in Seville. Families, churches and neighbourhoods sponsor marvellous floats with life-size images of their favourite saints and biblical events. They city comes alive.

2. La Feria de Abril

The Seville Fair begins two weeks after the Semana Santa. Officially, the Fair begins at midnight on Monday, and runs six days, on to the following Sunday. These days, Seville society parades in carriages and on horseback and put up casetas in the 1.2 sq.km. Real de la Feria (fairground). Casetas number up to 1000, mostly privately set up by the top families of the city and some companies. They entertain friends to lavish food and entertainment. Not to worry if you have no such eminent friends, there are public casetas as well. There are also bullfights every day, said to be the best in the country.

Feria de Abril in Seville

Visit to Seville

Will you recommend a visit to Seville?

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Seville's Magic
Seville's Magic | Source

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    • Mariaelizabeth profile image

      Maria Elizabeth 5 weeks ago from Cheshire/Greater Manchester, UK

      Love your beautiful photos and descriptions.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 2 months ago from Norfolk, England

      Seville certainly looks a lovely place to visit. Personally, I'd love to go and visit the cathedral. Hopefully one day I'll be able to visit here.

    • aesta1 profile image
      Author

      Mary Norton 4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you so much. We enjoyed Seville especially that Christmas we were there but soon, it will have the Holy Week Celebration and the procession is so colourful.

    • GAES STEM profile image

      Governor's Academy for Engineering Studies 4 months ago from Chesterfield, Virginia

      This was so appealling and made me want to add Seville to my travel list, although I will stay away from the bullfighting. The architecture and history are enough for me. So well done and the table was very helpful!

    • aesta1 profile image
      Author

      Mary Norton 17 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Livetech, you can include Cordoba and Granada where the Alhambra is. There is also Cadiz and Juarez. These are all easy drives from Seville. We even went to Rhonda.

    • livetech profile image

      livetech 17 months ago from United Kingdom

      What a lovely looking place. Fantastic detailed and informative hub, enough to make me want to go! I was wondering what other cities and large towns are nearby that could be incorporated into a short trip to this area?

    • aesta1 profile image
      Author

      Mary Norton 18 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you. We were there in December and January and it was sweater weather. The place really invites us to know more about Spain's history which in a way is ours as well.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 18 months ago from the short journey

      Such an interesting post. You've made me want to read up on Ferdinand III as well as visit Seville. Imagining the hordes of people who have walked those streets throughout the centuries, each with their own story, is so thought-provoking, and your hub with its pics brings some of the thoughts to life. In reading of the gardens and seeing some of the landscape in your photos, I wonder about the weather history there. And that's just the beginning of how this post provokes! ;)

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 18 months ago from Indonesia

      What a very interesting place to visit. I wish I could realize my dream to visit it.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 18 months ago from Dubai

      Seville seems to be a great place to visit. Enjoyed reading, wonderful photos and explanations. Great hub, voted up.

    • aesta1 profile image
      Author

      Mary Norton 18 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you. I hope you will soon make it there.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 18 months ago from Massachusetts

      Congratulations Mary. A wonderful review of Seville. We have not been there yet but it is high on our list. Hopefully in the next few years. Great job.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 18 months ago from Fresno CA

      Beautiful hub. It's been many years since I was in Seville. I loved it. My favorite was the Alcazar. Wish you had more photos of that. I would love to go back someday.

    • aesta1 profile image
      Author

      Mary Norton 18 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I should add about Flamenco as this is the place for this fabled dancing. Yes, we enjoyed walking through the gardens.

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen Szklany Gault 18 months ago from New England

      Beautiful hub! I was in Seville with a friend while on holiday from studying in Ireland in the Spring of 1986. Very lovely. Remember El Parque de Maria Louisa y el Toro d'Oro. Ran out of time to see the Alcazar. Will have to make it in the next trip. Do remember sipping Sangria while watching Flamenco dancing at a dance club called Los Gallos. Beautiful mosaic pattern in front of the entrance to the building...and a fountain, I think. This hub's accolades are well-deserved!

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 18 months ago from The English Midlands

      I cannot believe that it is over 30 years since I visited Seville. A wonderful city - and your hub brought back so many lovely memories! Brilliant. thank you. Lovely photos! :)

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 18 months ago from Norfolk

      Spain is definitely on my wish list of places to travel to after reading this hub. Seville looks like a fascinating place to visit.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 18 months ago from Central Florida

      Marvelous photos. Congrats on being featured on Hubpages this week.

    • aesta1 profile image
      Author

      Mary Norton 18 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you so much Alicia. We did miss the bullfight but there were so many things to experience other than this.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 18 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a beautiful hub! I love the photos and the descriptions. I've been to Seville for a brief visit, but I'd love to visit again and explore the area in more detail. I would give the bull fights a miss, but everything else would be wonderful to see. Congratulations on the Editor's Choice award for this hub, aesta1. It's very well deserved.

    • aesta1 profile image
      Author

      Mary Norton 18 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you Chantelle.

    • Chantelle Porter profile image

      Chantelle Porter 18 months ago from Chicago

      Lovely article. You really put a lot of work into it and it shows. Sharing to travel board.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 18 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      Absolutely beautiful pictures and videos of Seville. Also a beautiful hub altogether. Thank you for sharing your fabulous trip.

      Blessings to you.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 18 months ago from The Caribbean

      You make Seville sound as magical as I'm sure it is. Thanks for the history and the lovely pictures of the architecture. Didn't know Christopher Columbus was buried here. Altogether, very interesting!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I have no frame of reference. It is all too majestic, unlike anything I have seen in the States. Thank you for the mini-tour and the beautiful photos.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 18 months ago from New York

      Fascinating! I have always wanted to travel to Spain. Great article and photos. Pinned to my Wanderlust Travel board.

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