The capital of Andalucia, Sevilla is truly one of Spain’s most charming, beautifully and captivating cities. The Sevillanos are immensely proud people, full of passion about the place in which they live. There is certainly a feast of culture and wonderment for the visitor to see in this vivacious bright and most of all colourful city …a place that is a “must” to visit and be experienced.
The origins of Sevilla are a little unclear, however what is quite clear is that this vital city is a river port as it dominates by it’.s proximity to the river Guadalquivir. It’s generally believed that the city was founded and colonised.first by Iberians, thereafter the Greeks, Phoenicians and ultimately the Romans.
Romans and Visigoths
Following a long siege, the Romans overran the city in 205 BC, renaming the city Hispalis. The first part of the ensuing Roman rule was punctuated by a series of internal disputes.
Baetica was one of three Imperial Roman provinces in Hispania, known nowadays of course as Iberia, bordered to the west by Lusitania. In 42 BC Julius Caesar conquered the city. Under Caesar’.s rule, during which time nearly all of Sevilla’.s fortifications were constructed, Sevilla flourished, eventually becoming one of Baetica’.s main cities.
Vandels invaded the region in the 5th century and were subsequently expelled by the Visigoths. The Visigoths made Sevilla the capital of their kingdom.until the court was transferred to Toledo. A prominent figure in the 6th century whose name you’ll often see cropping up for having had a great influence on Medieval European culture, was bishop St Isidore, the author of.Etymologies.
Following the Moorish conquest in AD 712, Seville came under a long period of.Moorish rule. The city was originally under the control of Cordoba. Upon the fall of the Caliphate in 1031, Sevilla became a taifa kingdom which meant it was under Spanish Muslim rule.
It was during the reign of the third and last ruler of this taifa kingdom from 1069 to 1091 by Al Mutamid, a member of the Abbadid dynasty, that Sevilla experienced the greatest cultural developments.
With the various factions that came to be dominant during the ends of the Moorish era, the control of Sevilla changed hands several times with the Almohads eventually taking control from the Almoravids, towards the beginnings of the 12th century. It was following this period that La Giralda (the Cathedral’s tower) from the minaret of La Mezquita (Mosque) were built, …on the site where the Cathedral now stands.
The Christian Return
On the 23rd of November 1248, Fernando III the Saint re-conquered Sevilla. Then, crowned in 1252, Alfonso X battled the Moors and obtained the title of.King of the Romans from the Archbishop of Treveris on behalf of the.Electors of Saxony, Brandensburg.and Bohemia. Alfonso X the Wise, was a prominent character. He was responsible for giving the city its coat of arms to commemorate the loyalty and support he received from them. In the flag of Seville, the “NO 8 DO” is a.heraldic pun.
The 8-like figure represents a wool hank, in Spanish “madeja”. So the emblem should be read “NO-madeja-DO” which sounds similar to “no me ha dejado” i.e. “she did not abandon me”, making reference to Seville.‘s support to King Alphonse X during his 2nd son’.s uprising against him, following the naming of Don Sancho by the Cortes in Segovia as heir to the throne during his absence.
This brought on a civil war while the Moorish troops were burning the.Castillian fleet at Tarifa in 1278 and Pamplona fell to the French. Alfonso warred against his son but died.grief stricken on 1284.
His true legacy was more intellectual, legal and.literary than military. His General Chronicle of Spain and his Great and General History are.considered exemplar. His Code of Seven Acts is a monumental work of.jurisprudence,.influential even today. He also wrote extensively on.science, astronomy and astrology and published. his famous work of poems Cantigas de Santa Maria in the Galician language.
The Golden Age
With the discovery of America in.1492, Sevilla developed.a monopoly on trade with the New World, becoming the transit point for every expedition to and from the newly discovered continent. Sevilla began to amass a great wealth, palaces were built,.new industries were created and the whole. city was a hive of activity, all financed by.American gold. The population almost doubled during the course of the 16th century, rising to almost.200,000 inhabitants.
In 1649 Sevilla suffered from a massive plague that.decimated the local population. The silting up of the river Guadalquivir led to the transfer of all. shipping expeditions to Cadiz. In 1717 the Casa de Contratación – the governmental office.responsible for controlling trade with the Americas, was formally relocated to Cadiz.
The 20th Century
The beginnings of the 20th of Century were characterised by hardship. Plagues, crop failures.and the Spanish Civil War all took.their toll on the local population.
In 1929 Sevilla.hosted the Ibero-American Exhibition and in 1992, the Expo with both of these events having a significant impact on the layout of the city. Parque de Maria Luisa, Sevilla’.s most famous Park, was re-designed just before the Ibero-American exhibition by the.French landscape architect Nicolas.Forestier.
The 1992 Expo led to the construction of the Isla.de la.Cartuja, the site on which the Expo was held. Today it houses both the Isla Mágica theme park mentioned earlier under “Places to See in Sevilla” and the centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo.
There is no more perfect symbol of Seville.‘s layered history than the Giralda Tower, the bell tower of the city.‘s cathedral. It stands a little apart from the main building. It was once the minaret of the.mosque that stood on the site before it was razed to make.way for the cathedral. This Cathedral houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus the famous explorer.
The lower sections of the tower date from that time, but its upper parts are Christian Renaissance architecture. The tower was once topped by a. copper ball, but that fell off during a 14th century earthquake and was replaced with a cross.
It’s a long climb up the 100 metres to the top of La Giralda, but the views of the city and the groups of statues of the lower levels are stunning enough to make it worth the effort.
Actually, it’s hardly surprising that this Royal Palace of Seville the Alcázar conjours up memories of the Alhambra. Some of the Alhambra’s most prominent architects worked on it. Their masterpiece is probably the Patio de las Doncellas (Courtyard of the Maidens – reputedly referring to a supposed annual tribute of 100 virgin maidens demanded of the Castile Kingdoms by the Moors) with its arches, garden and.reflecting pool.
The lower level of the Patio was built for King Pedro I and includes inscriptions describing Peter as a “sultan” and the upper story was built later by Charles V. The Alcázar is associated with many notorious figures, most notably Pedro I “Pedro the Cruel”, who ordered much of the Alcázar’s construction.
The rainwater tanks underneath the building are named in commemoration of one of his victims, …a beauty he pursued so relentlessly that she disfigured herself with burning oil and became a nun. Not least of the Alcázar.‘s pleasures are its gardens with their palms,.pools and pavilions. Cool your heels after your visit here.
Magic Island is a theme park with a twist. It’s all based around 16th century Spain, with the emphasis on exploration. Lots of galleons, pirates,. jungles and lots of adventure. It’s big! The park is set on the site of the.1992 Expo and split into a number of different themed sections.
In the Amazonia section you can get the.heart pumping with the famous El Jaguar roller coaster and a waterfall ride. In the Gateway to the Americas section there.‘s a ‘water coaster’ and a Navigator.‘s school. There’s also a Mayan world, a small children.’s section, cinemas, virtual shows and a planetarium.
The Real Fábrica de Tabacos
To look up, then up some more brings home the scale of Seville.‘s tobacco industry in the 18th century. This is one of the largest buildings in Spain with only El.Escorial topping it in terms of surface area. It’s used as a university building now but one can still walk around it.
The reason most people visit is to get a vision of Bizet.‘s doomed heroine, Carmen. This building is where she worked and the doors are where she lounged, fresh from rolling cigars on her thighs, to ensnare her lovers. Carmen.‘s wraith may be compelling, but the wraiths of the real cigar workers …nearly all of them women … also clamour for attention, as do the colonially themed.bas-reliefs on the outside of the building.