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Florence has its glorious architecture, Egypt its ancient foundations, Rio de Janeiro its carnival, New Orleans its music, Pamplona its festivities, Istanbul is a bi-continental crossroads and Rome and London were once centres of world Empire. All of this is captured in Spain in just one city: Seville.
What other city can lay such a claim?
But how much do we know of Seville compared to the others? It is time to redress the balance and discover a city loved by all that have visited her. Seville was founded by Hercules and built by the Phoenicians. She was the second city of Imperial Rome and then blossomed to become second to none when she discovered another world. Seville is home of the humble ‘tapa’, the Inquisition, the bullfight, a cornerstone of Flamenco, a city that inspired and spawned Carmen, Don Giovanni, Figaro, the Barber of and where Christopher Columbus rests in the world’s biggest gothic cathedral. This is the city that took baseball and cowboys to the New World, set Magellan off around the world and welcomed his boats back. It was an African capital in Europe, which its exotic Moorish monuments attest to. It went on to bridge Europe and the Americas to become the ‘New York’ of its day.
There are few cultures that kick up their heels like Spain and there is certainly no Spanish city more alegre than Seville. It made a lasting impression on the likes of Byron, Borrow, Brenan and all of the great Hispanophiles. When one imagines the temperamental fantasy of Spain one is thinking exclusively of Seville and her legacy. Its glorious past is mirrored by its vibrant present and infectious atmosphere. London, New York and Paris may be on cigarette packets and shopping bags but Seville is found in writers’ eulogies and engrained in the visitors’ imagination.
Seville is the fame and fable of all things Spanish. Hence, if you don’t know Seville you will never fathom Spain. While Sevilla has been largely forgotten since it discovered the New World its citizens still believe their world spins at the centre of the old universe. It’s just waiting for you to rediscover it and see they are right.