Sevilla may not boast quite the international reputation of Spain’s most visited cities, Madrid and Barcelona but easily rivals and in truth probably surpasses both cities in terms of impressive and significant historical sights. The magnificent Plaza de Espana is arguably the most impressive square in all of Spain. The giant 15th Century Cathedral towers above the city and claims to be the largest church in the world. Take a stroll in the surrounding streets and you will get a feel for the once vibrant and still fascinating Jewish neighbourhood of Santa Cruz. There’s a whole host of other significant churches, palaces and museums which all add to the ancient charm of the place.
The city has changed somewhat since its 16th century golden age but hasn’t lost touch with its roots. Two of Sevilla’s main passions are flamenco and bull-fighting. They have little in common with each other but the best time to experience either is undoubtedly during the Feria de Sevilla in April when almost the entire city comes out to party. It’s a very Spanish affair with traditional dress, food and street dancing all playing a big part in the week-long celebration. You can of course try your hand at the passionate art of flamenco any time during the year but most visitors to Sevilla opt to sit back and watch the shows which take place practically every night. Bull-fighting takes place at the impressive Plaza de Toros and remains a very popular pastime in this part of Spain.
The city is by no means all about history and tradition however and with a huge student population, Sevilla threatens to burst into life on any night of the week. In the summer especially the nightlife is great when open-air discos and hundreds of bars party on till past dawn. There’s no shortage of places to sample Andalucian food either. Head down to the banks of the river for some great views and tasty tapas or relax in a restaurant in one of the city’s lesser known yet often equally charming plazas. Sundays tend to be much quieter affairs so head to one of the various street markets around town if you’re looking for some action.
Getting around is easy provided you don’t get lost in the old towns narrow winding streets. If you’re reasonably fit, you can easily see the city’s main sights on foot and there are plenty of quaint little bars and coffee-shops if you need to catch your breath. Sevilla also boasts a modern metro system which was opened as recently as 2009 should you need to travel out to some of the Southern neighbourhoods or just fancy a swifter journey. There are also cheap trams and buses which may be of use during the stiflingly hot summer months. Sevilla is committed to being a ‘green’ city and has an imaginative ‘Sevici’ bike system where you can cycle around the city by hopping on and off a bike at one of the many special docking stations around town.
The city may be the beating heart of Andalucía but there is so much else to see in the region. The historical towns of Cordoba and Granada are all possible day-trips but have more than enough intrigue to warrant a longer stay. Head south and it won’t be long before you hit some glorious beaches with Cadiz, an ancient coastal city perhaps a good starting point and the trip from Sevilla will only take a little over an hour.