History and Culture
Seville is the capital of Andalusia and was, according to legend, built by Hercules. There is no doubt however that the Iberian and Phoenician Hispalis became Roman in 206 BC and Julius Caesar established a Roman judicial district, "Colonia Julia Romula", there around 45 BC, walled the city and made it the capital. Conquered by Muslims in 712 its' name became Izvilla from which today's name is derived.
Seville is renowned world wide for its history, culture and monuments, and the Giralda is the oldest Arab minaret and the symbol of this fascinating city bathed by the Guadalquivir. From the top of the belfry is the most beautiful view of the city and the surroundings, and the vast Gothic cathedral houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus and the Patio de los Naranjos, (courtyard of the orange trees), is especially fragrant in springtime.
The district of La Macarena is sprinkled with churches and the Basilica of la Macarena is a center of pilgrimages venerating the Virgin Mary. Nearby stands the Hospital de las Cinco Llagas, current headquarters of the Andalusian Parliament.
The district of El Arenal has an undeniable bullfighting flavor and here stands the Real Maestranza, Seville's bullring, where bullfighting is the passion of the local people.
A short distance away is the Torre del Oro, (Golden Tower), the ancient Arab fortress which received the gold and silver from America.
The Maria Luisa Park, named after Maria Luisa de Orleans who donated it to the city, is a tranquil oasis in the midst of this bustling city, and on the other side of the river the district of Triana has beautiful houses and courtyards decorated with colorful ceramic tiles.
On Thursdays the famous rastro, (flea market), takes place in the La Ferias behind La Almaeda, and one of the busiest streets, Calle las Sierpas, is a pedestrianized zone with shopping par excellence.
Los Reales Alcazares consists of a series of palaces which the Kings of Seville built around or on top of the ruins of King Al-Mutamid's palace. It was the residence of petty Kings, the Almohads and the Christians beginning with Ferando II, until Perdo I el Cruel built today's Mudejar Palace.
Carmona and Ecija are considered two of the most monumental cities in the province of Seville.
Carmona with its Roman and Arab past has two entrance gates to the old walled city where there are many monuments and a well preserved old quarter. The Church of Santa Maria la Mayor is a temple erected over a former mosque and surrounding it are stately buildings.
The Alcazar of Pedro 1 el Cruel crowns the city, and the Roman necropolis, filled with impressive tombs and mausoleums is found at the far end of the town.
The baroque town of Ecija has eleven churches studded by tall steeples and is the hottest town in Andalusia during the summer. The town is beautiful with some fantastic monuments and palaces and time should be taken to stroll the quaint streets and explore this lovely city.
9 kms from Seville are the ruins of the Roman city of Italica founded by Publius Cornelius Scipio in 206 BC. It was the birthplace of the Emperors Trajan and Hadrian and a visit should include the amphitheatre, the baths, the museum and the ruins of the houses with splendid mosaics.
Cazalla de la Sierra is the most important town in Seville's Sierra Norte and in the Plaza Mayor stands a monument from the 14th century with the Mudejar tower commanding splendid views of the Andalusian Sierra Morena.
The nature reserve is the setting of towns such as Constantina, noted for its Moreria quarter, and Guadalcanal, bordering Extramadura lowlands, is brimming with local color, including white houses punctuated with flower pots of colorful jasmine. Holm and cork oak are the most common trees in this area and through these lands roam deer and wild boar, making it a hunter's paradise.
Marchena lies south of Carmona and has artistic heritage. After the Reconquest by the Christians it was awarded to the Duke of Arcos who provided it with many imposing buildings.
La Mota castle is in the higher part of the town and was the bastion of the Almohad precints of the 12th and 13th centuries with the Gates of Seville and Moron.
Estepa, perched on the slopes of a hill, was called Istabba in Arabic and acquired some relevance owing to its strategic location on a crossroad. The view from the castle on top of the hill over the country is absolutely splendid and the convent of Santa Clara is a stunning building and a must see.
Alcala de Guadiara is where Washington Irving noticed packs of mules and donkeys loaded with large baskets of loaves and rolls, referring to the well known tradition in the town of baking, which is still applicable nowadays.
The Almohads built a gigantic fortification on a hill overlooking the village with some splendid buildings and Mudejar church, with the Guadaira river flowing below.
On the way to Carmona pass through the enchanting village of Gandul where there is an Almohad tower beside a Baroque palace set among Roman ruins and medieval remains.