The Spanish City of Seville
The Spanish city of Seville is the capital of the autonomous region of Andalusia in southern Spain. The Guadalquivir River divides the city into two regions, and on the north and south-west the city is bordered by two low mountain ranges, the Sierra Morena and the Subbeticas Mountains.
The Spanish city of Seville, at various historic periods, was inhabited by successive waves of Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Arabs and Christians. While the first settlers, the Iberians, called the city Ispal, under the Romans, the name was changed to Hispalis. During Arab rule, it was known as Isbiliya, a name which was gradually converted to Seville when the Christians took over the city. In the sixteenth century, Seville attained its greatest splendor when it became the gateway to Spain´s colonies in the Americas. From the eighteenth century onwards, the city was embroiled in several wars that impeded its progress and development. The city saw a return to prominence and prosperity when it hosted the World´s Fair in 1992.
The historic cathedral with its tower, Giralda, is Seville’s most recognizable landmark. It was built during the fifteenth century, on the ruins of an Islamic mosque, and is the third biggest church in the world after Saint Peter’s in Rome and Saint Paul’s in London. Nothing remains of the original mosque except the Orange Tree Courtyard and the minaret, or tower, known as the Giralda. The cathedral contains the mortal remains of the body of Christopher Columbus. Numerous impressive works of art enthrall the visitor, such as the fifteenth century stained-glass windows, the iron screens closing off the chapels, the elaborate fifteenth century choir stalls, the Gothic reredos above the main altar, and paintings by Goya, Murillo, and Zurbaran. The king’s palace, Alcazar, is built in the typical Moorish style, and is still in use. The Torre de Oro, a Moorish tower on the banks of the river, is another interesting landmark. It faces the bullring, Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza.
The April fair of Seville, Feria de Abril, is an important local custom, taking the form of a week of dancing, singing and lavish processions culminating in the Semana Santa (Holy Week). The bullfights held during the April Fair feature the most prominent figures in this tradition. The Corpus Christi procession, held annually on the 11th of June, is an equally important custom in which thousands of worshippers collect in the streets, which are covered with rushes and rosemary to honor the Body of Christ. Seville is also famous as the birthplace of flamenco music and dance.
The Spanish city of Seville’s culinary highlights include gazpacho, soup with chilled tomato, first created in the seventeenth century with new ingredients provided by North and South America. Other specialties are the famous pringa (mixture of beef, pork fat back, cured sausage, blood sausage and ham), the pot-roasted beef (with olives and white wine), loin of pork in lard, stewed oxtail, menudo (a variation of Andalusian-style tripe), cod in a tomato sauce, and spinach with chickpeas.