Located on the plains of the Guadalquivir River in southern Spain is the heart and jewel of Andalusia, Sevilla. Legend has it that the Roman demigod Hercules founded the city himself. But what Sevilla is today is shaped by the influences of the different civilizations that occupied it throughout history. From the Tartessians in the 8th century BC when it was called Hispalis; to the Romans in the 3rd century BC; the Moorish occupation of the Iberian peninsula for the next 500 years when its name was changed to Ishbiliya; down to the takeover by the Crown of Castile in the 13th century leading up to its Golden Era during the Middle Ages and its development as a modern city by the turn of the 20th century. Indeed, vestiges of these monumental epochs are still visible in and around Sevilla and continue to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
Sevilla is the fourth largest city in Spain with a population of about 705,000. It is made up of 11 districts – Casco Antiguo, Distrito Sur, Triana, Macarena, Nervion, Distrito Norte, Los Remedios, Este-Alcosa-Torreblanca, Cerro-Amate, Bellavista-La Palmera and San Pablo-Santa Justa. Sevillanos enjoy a Mediterranean climate with one of the warmest summers in all of Europe and mild winters. This kind of climate perhaps lends to the warmth and conviviality of the locals which is known far and wide and why partying goes on until the wee hours of the night.
Sevilla is the city that made tapas an integral part of Spain’s gastronomic traditions, along with other food items such as polvorones, gazpacho and torrijas. More Andalusian gems of heritage that Sevilla has a major contribution in are the development of flamenco and the art of bullfighting.
Whilst the city is abuzz with activities the whole year round, two major events bring out the best in the Sevillanos and draw hordes of visitors every year. In the spring, the city becomes alive with the Semana Santa and the Feria de Seville (also known as Feria de Abril). The former is marked by processions of religious floats all throughout the week while the latter is a weeklong flurry of activities from parades to dancing and drinking in the streets.
Sevilla has also had the proud distinction of hosting international exhibitions twice – the Latin American Exhibition in 1929 and the Universal Exposition of Seville in 1992. These are not the only instances when the city grabbed the world’s attention – Sevilla has figured prominently in a number of the greatest literary works such as Don Juan, Carmen, The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro. Still and all, the most enduring testaments to its rich artistic and cultural past are the many architectural works left by its prominent artists and architects.
Making it to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list are the Alcazar, the Cathedral and the Archivo General de Indias. Other impressive landmarks are the Metropol Parasol, the Plaza de Espana, Torre del Oro, Palace of San Telmo, the University of Seville and La Giralda. It also goes without saying that its museums hold a treasure trove of artistic collections. Notable museums include the Museum of Fine Arts of Seville, The Flamenco Art Museum, The Archaeological Museum and the Bullfight Museum.