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Seville

Seville is the capital of southern Spain’s Andalusia region. It’s famous for flamenco dancing, particularly in its Triana neighborhood. Major landmarks include the ornate Alcázar castle complex, built during the Moorish Almohad dynasty, and the 18th-century Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza bullring. The Gothic Seville Cathedral is the site of Christopher Columbus’s tomb and a minaret turned bell tower, the Giralda.

The city is situated on the banks of the smooth, slow Guadalquivir River, which divides the city into two halves: Sevilla and Triana. The Guadalquivir (known as Baetis by the Romans and as Betik / al-Wadi al-Kabir by the Arabs) has had a major impact in the history of the city. The location of Seville is roughly coincident with the point where the Guadalquivir stops being useful for navigation. It is at this point that the cereal producing region of the Guadalquivir Valley starts, and Seville has acted as a sea-port for commerce of agricultural goods produced farther west. Intense trade existed in the area from Roman times, continued under Muslim rule, and exploded as Seville monopolized the new trade with the Americas. As the monopoly was broken and Cádiz largely took Seville's place, the city entered a period of relative decline. In the 19th century Seville gained a reputation for its architecture and culture and was a stop along the Romantic "Grand Tour" of Europe. Seville has built on its tourism industry since, playing host to the International Exposition in 1992, which spurred the construction of a new airport, a new train station, a bullet train link to Madrid, new bridges and improvements to the main boulevards. Tourist facilities are top-notch and the city is buzzing with festivals, color and a thriving nightlife scene.

Some cities blast you away, others slowly win you over. Seville disarms and seduces you. Its historic centre, lorded over by a colossal Gothic cathedral, is an intoxicating mix of resplendent Mudéjar palaces, baroque churches and winding medieval lanes. Flamenco clubs keep the intimacy and intensity of this centuries-old tradition alive whilst aristocratic mansions recall the city’s past as a showcase Moorish capital and, later, a 16th-century metropolis rich on the back of New World trade. But while history reverberates all around, Seville is as much about the here and now as the past. It’s about eating tapas in a crowded bar or seeing out the end of the day over a drink on a buzzing plaza. The sevillanos have long since mastered the art of celebrating and the city’s great annual festivals, notably the Semana Santa and Feria de Abril, are among Spain’s most heartfelt.

Seville, like most Andalusian destinations, is known for its tapas. "Tapa", while it is associated with certain dishes, is actually a size and many restaurants or bars will offer a tapa, 1/2 ración(half serving, although sometimes enough to make a meal) and ración (serving) of the same dish. There are many great tapas places around the foot of the cathedral in the center of town. You can't go wrong, simply order one of everything to find your favorite! Some typical tapas include tortilla española (potato omelet), pulpo gallego (Galician octopus), aceitunas (olives), patatas bravas (spicy potatoes), and queso manchego (sheep's milk cheese from the nearby La Mancha region). Also be sure to try the ham, which you often see hanging above the bar.


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