Flamenco, fiestas, and folclórico are afire in southern Spain’s Andalusia region. And Seville — locally known as Sevilla — delivers all the charm you’d expect to find here. It's also the place where Christopher Columbus lived before he left to sail the ocean blue in 1492. Set on the Guadalquivir River, the city blends Roman ruins, medieval architecture, gorgeous gardens, and winding streets often filled with revelers celebrating local and religious festivals.
What We Love
The Bull Ring: Aficionados of bullfighting call it an art — not a sport. The dance of the cape, the toreador, and the bull have influenced poets (Federico García Lorca), novelists (Ernest Hemingway), composers (Georges Bizet's Carmen), and the art of flamenco. Seville’s Baroque bull ring, one of the world’s most famous, also houses a small museum, an infirmary, and a beautiful chapel where fighters find solace before heading into the ring.
Triana: Located across the river, this colorful old quarter has been ruled by the Romans, the Moors, and the Catholics. Most recently it has been home to the Romani people and is regarded as one of the world’s top flamenco centers. Shoppers will love the pottery studios, ceramic museum, and weekly local market in the square.
Best Known For
Catedral de Santa María de la Sede: Set on the former site of a rambling mosque, Seville's massive cathedral — it’s one of the world’s largest — took more than 100 years to build and was completed in 1507. Inside this Gothic masterpiece are works by artists such as Murillo and Goya, but one of the biggest draws is the tomb of Christopher Columbus, which is held aloft by a quartet of imposing statues. The other major marquee is the adjacent Giralda, the cathedral bell tower.
Alcázar: This is the place where Columbus met with Ferdinand and Isabella, where the Anglo-Spanish war came to an end, and where a modern-day infanta (princess), the sister of King Felipe VI, was married. The maze-like city castle, first constructed by the Moors, is an exquisite example of Andalusian architecture through the ages — with each ruling monarch adding touches until the 19th century. Don't miss a stroll through the endless garden.
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Who It's Best For
History Buffs: Roman ruins, winding Moorish streets, and impressive Plaza de España make Seville ideal for channeling the past.
Food Fans: The tapas scene in Andalusia is classic. Translation: Order a drink, get a homemade snack. The more drinks you get, the bigger and more elaborate the dish (roasted almonds or fresh olives are generally a starting point). Of course, ordering raciones — bigger portions of tortilla española, manchego, jamón serrano, fried artichokes, etc. — is common, too.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It’s International: Seville is a wildly popular study abroad destination for American students — resulting in crowded bars, restaurants, and pubs along the river and by the central plaza. English is widely spoke, which some may see as an asset.
Jenna Mahoney is a Brooklyn-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Allure.