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Seville (Sevilla), Spain
Coat-of-arms NA
Autonomous community Andalusia (Andalucía)
Population 704,203 (2004 census)
Area 140 km²
Coordinates 37°23′ N 5°59′ W
Elevation 7 m AMSL
Inhabited 8th-9th century BC
Seville location map

Seville (Spanish: Sevilla, see also different names) is the artistic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain, crossed by the river Guadalquivir (37° 22′ 38″ N, 5° 59′ 13″ W). It is the capital of Andalusia and of the province of Sevilla. The inhabitants of the city are known as Sevillanos. Population of the city of Seville proper was 704,203 as of 2004 census. Population of the urban area was 1,043,000 as of 2000 estimates. Population of the metropolitan area (urban area plus satellite towns) was 1,594,081 as of 2004 estimates, ranking as the third-largest metropolitan area of Spain. As of 2005, the mayor of Seville is Alfredo Sánchez Monteseirín.



Roman Hispalis, in the province of Hispania Baetica, became ʾIšbīliyyah (Arabic أشبيليّة) under the Moors. Though Greeks and Romans repeated a founding myth connected with Heracles' visit to the Hesperides the historical site was occupied by the Tartessos in the 8th or 9th century BCE. Later it was a trading colony occupied by the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians, who destroyed the city in 216 BCE. In 206 BCE, Scipio Africanus founded Italica nearby, to settle his wounded veterans, and began the reconstruction of Hispalis.

The architecture of the older parts of the city still reflects the centuries of Moorish control of the city, beginning in 711. After a brief independence as one of the taifa principalities, from 1023 to 1091, when it was the seat of the Abbadids while the Caliphate of Cordoba collapsed, Seville then fell to the Reconquista of Ferdinand III of Castile in 1248.

Seville was governed from Cordoba but as a port it retained strategic importance: Emir Abd ar-Rahman II built a fleet and arsenal at Seville in the mid-9th century.

Sculpted archway in the old town centre
Sculpted archway in the old town centre
The distinctive cloaks and hoods of the Easter Holy Week processions
The distinctive cloaks and hoods of the Easter Holy Week processions
Night view of Bridge of Triana from Betis Street
Night view of Bridge of Triana from Betis Street
The Giralda Tower
The Giralda Tower
1929 Exposition Building, the Plaza de España
1929 Exposition Building, the Plaza de España

Seville the port

The city sits well inland, but a mere 6 meters above sea level. Seville was long an important sea port, prior to the silting up of the Guadalquivir. Amerigo Vespucci died in Seville. From Seville Ferdinand Magellan obtained the ships for his circumnavigation. Much of the Spanish Empire's silver from the New World came to Europe in the Spanish treasure fleet that landed in Seville, and Seville holds the most important archive of the Spanish administration in the Americas, the Archivo General de Indias. The American riches made it a magnet for people around Spain, ranging from latifundia nobles and foreign merchants (who were brokered by Spanish cargadores) to an active crime scene, pictured in the picaresque genre. The American silver was rapidly transhipped to Antwerp or Genoa, seat of the bankers who had advanced steady funds to the Spanish Crown. Other treasures of the Americas passed first through Seville: the first commercial shipment of chocolate from Veracruz arrived in Seville in 1585

Seville was a stronghold of the liberals during the Spanish Civil War, 1820-1823.

During the Spanish Civil War, Seville sided with the Nationalists, and was the site of the Nationalist edition of the ABC newspaper.

Modern Seville

Seville was the home of Expo 92 World's Fair. The showpiece Alamillo bridge spanning the Guadalquivir designed by Santiago Calatrava, was built for this occasion. Seville hosted the European Summit in June 2002; this was met with a counter-summit by those opposing neoliberalism and the tightening of European regulations on immigration. The final assemblage and the test flights of the Airbus A400M military aircraft will be done in the new EADS Spain plant built near the San Pablo Airport.


The city's great cathedral was built from 14011519 after the Reconquista on the former site of the city's mosque. It is the largest of all medieval and Gothic cathedrals, in terms of both area and volume. The interior, with the longest nave in Spain, is lavishly decorated, with a large quantity of gold evident. The Cathedral reused some columns and elements from the mosque, and most famously the Giralda, originally a minaret, was converted into a bell tower. It is topped with a statue representing Faith. The Giralda is the city's most famous symbol.

The Alcázar facing the cathedral is the city's old Moorish Palace; construction was begun in 1181. Additional construction continued for over 500 years.

The Torre del Oro was built by the Almohad dynasty as watchtower and defensive defensive barrier on the river. A chain was strung through the water from the base of the tower to prevent boats from traveling into the river port.

The Parque Maria Luisa was built for the 1929 Exposición Ibero-Americana World's Fair, and remains landscaped with attractive monuments and museums.


The Easter Holy week, "Semana Santa", and the Seville Fair, "La Feria de Sevilla" (also Feria de Abril, "April Fair") are the two most well-known of Seville's festivals. Seville is internationally renowned for the solemn but beautiful processions during Semana Santa, and the colourful and lively fair held two weeks after. During Feria families set up casetas or tents in which they spend the week dancing, drinking and socializing with their whole extended families. The women wear elaborate flamenco dresses and the men dress in their best suits. The fair grounds are set up like a type of village in which each street is named after a famous torero, or bull fighter.

Sweets from Seville

Typical for this region are polvorones, pestiños, roscos fritos, magdalenas, yemas de San Leandro, and Tortas de aceite, all of which are consumed throughout the year. Many of the sweets associated with Seville are made by nuns in the city's convents, and provide the convents with a source of revenue..



Seville is known for its hot summer weather, reaching even 50.0°C (122.0°F) on August 4, 1881, the record heat for Europe.

The Sevillana flamenco dance, the one most people think of when they think "flamenco" is not actually of Sevillan origin. But the folksongs called Sevillanas are authentically Sevillan, as is the four-part dance that goes with them.

The Seville oranges that dot the city landscape, too sour for modern tastes, are the best for making marmalade; they are irrigated with "gray" wastewaster.

Renowned people born in Seville


Home town of two rival soccer teams Real Betis Balompié and Sevilla FC.

Seville hosted the 7th Athletics World Championships in 1999.

Seville also unsuccessfully bid for the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics, which it lost to Athens and Beijing, respectively.

Seville also hosted in 2003 the UEFA Cup Final in the new Olympic stadium. The final was between Celtic FC (Scotland) and Porto FC (Portugal). The match finshed in extra time 3–2 to Porto after a 2-2 draw at 90 minutes. Celtic took more than 80,000 fans to the city, which was transformd into a sea of green and white.


The motto of Seville is "NO8DO". The "8" is shaped like a wool hank, in Spanish madeja. This makes the motto, as a rebus read "NO madeja DO" which is a pun on "no me ha dejado" = "it did not abandon me". This refers to the city's support for king Alphonse X in the war with his son Don Sancho in the 13th century. This motto is seen throughout Seville, inscribed on manhole covers.

Seville in fiction

  • Seville is the setting for the legend of Don Juan.
  • Seville is the primary setting of many operas, the best known of which are Bizet's "Carmen," Rossini's "The Barber of Seville," Verdi's "La Forza del Destino," Beethoven's "Fidelio," Mozart's "Don Giovanni" and "The Marriage of Figaro," and Prokofiev's "Betrothal in a Monastery."
  • The episode "The Grand Inquisitor" in Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov is set with Christ's return to Seville.
  • Seville is the setting of the novel and film Nadie conoce a nadie, which incorporates the elaborate Sevillian processions during Holy Week.
  • Seville is the setting of the novel "The Seville Communion" by Arturo Pérez-Reverte.
  • The Plaza de España in the Parque de María Luisa appears in George Lucas' Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
  • Part of Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here (Plaza de España).
  • Seville appears in the first chapter of science fiction novel Ringworld by Larry Niven.
  • Seville is both the location and setting for much of the 1985 Doctor Who television serial The Two Doctors.
  • Seville is also used as one of the location in Dan Brown's "Digital Fortress"

See also

External links

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