The popular capital of Andalucia, Seville, or Sevilla, is also the largest city in the province and the fourth largest in Spain; 40% of the province’s population live here. This city has the largest old town in Spain and a walk through its streets shows many monuments of its great historical heritage, being the Cathedral, along with the Giralda, the Torre del Oro and the Alcazar, its most representative monuments. All of these landmarks help to make Seville one of the largest historical centres in Europe.
The architecture in the province of Seville is magnificent and reflects centuries of culture by a variety of people who left their mark; Romans, Jews, Arabs and Gypsies. Take a visit to the Barrio Santa Cruz with its narrow streets and whitewashed houses which is home to many monuments and was once the Jewish quarter but is now known as the fashionable part of the city.
The province of Seville is particularly famous for its many tapas bars where you can enjoy some good company and some excellent food, maybe washed down with some of the locally produced fine sherry wines. The cuisine is likely to include specialities such as gazpacho, fresh fish fried in olive oil, chickpea stew, cured cod fish and bull’s tail. Also worth trying are the butter cookies called “mantecados” or the sweets made from egg-yolks called “Yemas de San Leandro”.
The Plaza de Espana, heading south from the city centre, has a series of arches bearing crests of all the provinces of Spain and is surrounded by an artificial river. La Calle Feria is one of the longest streets in Seville and is steeped in history. It is also a popular place for shoppers, having a whole range of retailers and also a street market every Thursday where you can buy just about anything! There is also a public market for fresh produce.
The Comarca de la Sierra Norte is the only natural park in Seville and lots of oak and cork trees grow here. In the centre of the park is a beautiful picnic area. Las Cascadas del Hueznar are a must for visitors; these waterfalls are spectacular and are well signposted from in the park. Other places of interest in Seville Province are Santiponce, Utrera, Carmona, Osuna, Alcala de Guadaira, Dos Hermanas, Estepa and Moron de la Frontera.
The compact ancient cities of Carmona, Ecija and Osuna sitting in a triangle that starts just 30 minutes east of Seville city are the islands in La Campina’s sea of farmland where the rich history is easily accessible, thanks to a plethora of museums, monuments, annotated maps, helpful hoteliers and tourist offices. Although, with the past woven into the fabric of the present, just to be here is to time travel. Those with more time should also explore Marchena and Estepa further south.
The town of Marchena is in the province of Seville. It is the centre for processing olives and other primary products. The town is full of historic and cultural heritage. Attractions include the Church of San Juan Bautista which is within the Moorish town walls and the Arco de la Rosa. (Arch of the Rose) Marchena is associated with the tradition of Flamenco and is also the birthplace of artists including Pepe Marchena and Melchor de Marchena, who was a very famous flamenco guitarist.
Osuna is 35km south of Ecija, past castles and ruins, cortijos, olives groves and open spaces. Although smaller and more rural, Osuna also has its streets of palaces; Calle San Pedro has been called one of the most beautiful in Europe, although, as many people come to visit the bullring which appears in Game of Thrones (The Great Pit of Daznak in series five).
In April every year, Seville hosts one of the largest parties in Spain, the “Feria de Abril” and people from all over Spain travel to take part in the festivities. The feria was originally just a cattle market, but through the years it has turned out to be one of the greatest popular festivals in Spain. It takes place just after the celebrations for Holy Week, Semana Santa, when some spectacular processions take place. There are over 1000 marquees, known as “casetas” at the feria site and every day at noon a procession called the “Paseo de Caballos” takes place. Girls in their traditional flamenco dresses are escorted through the city in carriages pulled by fine Spanish horses and in the late afternoon the bullfights begin and there is a terrific atmosphere of excitement and the whole city is buzzing!