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Baltic Cruises

About Seville

Cadiz, Spain

A mythical city said to have been founded by Hercules, Seville is the political and spiritual capital of Andalusia, southern Spain's sun-splashed province of bull-fighting, olive oil and flamenco. A city of mystery, antiquity and beauty, Seville’s twisting and well-worn streets lead to energetic marketplaces and raucous flamenco halls that help make it one of the most enchanting and seductive cities in the world. From Roman aqueducts to Moorish fountains to Castilian churches, Seville’s architectural beauty is unrivalled.

Seville was founded as a village called Spal in the 8th century B.C. by the indigenous Tartessian people of Iberia..Later, under Punic rule, the city was known as Ispal, which the Romans then changed to Hispalis. With Rome came its mythologies, and word spread that Hercules was the city’s founder. Germanic invaders took the city in the 5th century, only to lose it to the Moors in 712. Under the Arab Moors, it became Ishbiliya and later Ixbilia, which evolved into the Seville we know today.

In 1247, Seville saw the rule of Moorish-Andalusia end with the coming of King Ferdinand of Castile. By 1492, Seville had become one of the most important cities in Europe, transforming into a gateway to the New World. To this day, Seville attracts travelers of every variety, many with an eye toward its historic roots.

Seville Lifestyle and Culture

While in Seville, take the opportunity to experience one of the area’s best-known exports, Sherry. Introduced to Andalusia by the Moors in 711, the fortified wine was originally named Sherish, named for the city of Jerez. Local Sevillanos will often drop by their neighborhood bodega to fill up their bottle on the way home.

A gleaming necklace of brilliant white hillside villas in the Moorish heart of Andalusia, the village of Arcos de la Frontera recalls an Iberia from a bygone era. Perched in the hills just south of Seville, Arcos de la Frontera once marked the border between the Christian and Moorish Spain. From its position high on a sandstone ridge, you can savor unforgettable panoramas of the Guadalete Valley. Closer to the coast in Jerez, you can indulge in Sherry in the city that introduced it to the world.

There are 70 bullfighting rings in Andalusia, The most important one – La Maestranza – is in Seville and it carries a long and storied past. The ancient practice of the Rejoneando, or horse-riding bullfighter, has been traced back to the Roman Empire and the island of Crete; some believe the spectacle is a re-creation of the killing of the mythical Minotaur. In Seville, bullfighting changed from a rowdy contest of man versus beast in a village square, to a work of art. After the fights changed from an aristocratic event to a sport accessible to the public, arenas saw fewer horse-riders. Today, Matadors are regarded as the fighters of the dance.

Seville Sights and Landmarks

The Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Sede in Seville, the final resting place of Christopher Columbus, is the third largest church in the world. Construction began in 1402, and local legend has it that the elders of the city proclaimed, “Let us build a church, a church so beautiful and so grand that those who see it finished will think that we are mad.” The Cathedral was completed in 1506. Its main dome was so large that it collapsed twice: once in 1511, and then again in 1888. The second collapse was caused by an earthquake, but repairs completed the structure again by 1903.

Located alongside the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the Giralda Tower has become a symbol of the city. This magnificent bell tower was originally built as a minaret for the mosque built on this site during Seville’s Moorish era. Today, it is a striking blend of Islamic and Renaissance styles.

The Alcazar Palace also has Moorish origins and stands as one of the most gorgeous palaces in the world. First built by the Berber Almohades when they controlled the city, it is one of the oldest palaces that continues to be used by a royal family. Located just off the banks of the Canal de Alfonso XIII, it boasts an astounding mix of Renaissance and Baroque art work and is regarded as the finest example of Mudejar architecture in the city.

Outside of Seville, the dazzling port city of Cádiz rests on a delicate arm of land jutting into the mighty Atlantic. One of the most ancient cities in Europe, it was under Moorish rule from 711 to 1262. One Muslim legend describes an idol over 100 feet tall that defended the Strait of Gibraltar by conjuring dangerous winds and currents. Many of contemporary Cádiz’s architectural jewels date from the 18th century, when the center of Spanish trade shifted from Seville to Cádiz.

Seville Entertainment and Activities

Moorish, Christian and Jewish legacies merge in modern-day Seville, creating a rich and varied culture. Along its labyrinthine streets lined with Moorish gardens and glittering mosaics, you’ll find delicious gelaterias and tasty tapas bars serving rich jamón ibérico with a glass of Sherry. The city pulsates with the energy of the flamenco, the famed dance that was created here. The Barrio Santa Cruz is the city’s medieval Jewish quarter. One of its oldest neighborhoods, it is the supposed birthplace of the infamous Don Juan Tenorio, that great romancer of women.

Outside Cádiz, you can travel to the golden beaches of El Palmar. A closely kept secret for many generations, the savvy traveler will head to its inviting wooden boardwalks for a stroll. In the charming nearby town of Vejer de la Frontera, you’ll catch impressive vistas from the cobbled streets along the coastline, and see the cork-oak-dotted hillsides of Alcornocales National Park.

Nearby Jerez is home to the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, a storied institution dedicated to one of Andalusia’s most treasured art forms: the equestrian dance. The School is a place of performance, history and respect built to carry on the ancestral abilities of the Andalusian Horse. The School traces its founding back to the famous rider Don Alvaro Domecq Romero, who received the prestigious Golden Horse trophy from King Juan Carlos I in May 1973.

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