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Seville is the capital of the Adalusian region of southern Spain and is the centre for finance and culture in the region. It is situated on the Guadalquivir River around 100 miles north of Gilbraltar and is a busy river port city. It is Spain's 4th largest city by population with around 700,000 people.
Seville is a city that typifies what many of us think when we imagine Spain. The Andalusia region is the traditional home of Flamenco, bull fighting and the famous Spanish way of eating - tappas. It has long hot summer days, blue skies and red dirt, whitewashed Hacienda's and a party atmosphere. The centre of the town is gorgeous with lovely open squares and the subtle fragrance of the ubiquitous orange trees floating in the air. These public areas are connected by narrow cobbled streets that wind among the distinctive architecture of the churches, shops and houses with their lovely geranium window boxes.
Sevilles building styles are a mix of Islamic, gothic, roman and renaissance which give the city a style all of it's own. The Real Alc�zar has some beautiful islamic inspired architecture and stunning gardens surrounding the central building. This is where Columbus's journey to America was planned and the walls still bear his coat of arms and various maps that were used at the time. Also worth a visit is the grand "Plaza de Espana", the site of the Spanish Pavillion from the exhibition of 1929. There are numerous lovely parks and the city takes full advantage of it's outdoor climate and warm weather that occurs most of the year. Great public transport ensures that the sites around the city are easy to visit.
Flamenco is very popular here where it has been practiced for generations, not just for the tourists. It is hard to find a good authentic place but check out the Museo del Baile Flamenco" for information, or if you get chatting to the locals they may point you in the right direction. Some of the smaller venues are packed with locals and offer a fantastic experience. What many may not realise is the Flamenco is not just the elegant and passionate dance style that most people are familiar with but also the music and singing style that accompanies the dance and tells a story.
While bullfighting is certainly not to everyones liking here (including many of the younger locals), it has been practiced here for hundreds of years and a huge amount of tradition is evident with the sport. The Matadors are elegant and brave and many have the popularity of pop stars. The bulls themselves are also revered and are bred from valued and protected bloodlines often stretching back hundreds of years, and the outing itself to a bullfight is something of an occasion with the locals dressing up and making an outing of it. If you are planning on visiting a bullfight, be careful with your opinions as it may cause offence if you show your disapproval openly. You may however find yourself swept up in the carnival atmosphere, especially with the dramatic Pasodoble music being played live to the action. If you want to leave the venue, do so without a fuss and make your way out quietly. At the very least the outside of the arena is worth a visit. It is one of the oldest and most elegant bullfighting arenas in Spain.
A night out in Seville can be an education in how to party. The locals will often not even get started until around ten or eleven pm and then party throughout the night and into the next morning. Wonderful tapas bars are plentiful, and it is said Seville has more bars per person than any other city, so a drink is never hard to find. Be sure to check out some of the local specialities such as Jamon, an air dried and delicious ham that hangs behind many bars, the delicious potato salad that is commonly on the menu in the tapas bars and the many varieties of olives as well. Another tradition not to be missed is the dry sherry served up nearly everywhere.
Seville is a highlight of Spain and is one to keep near the top of the list for any trip in Spain.