Spain Guide



Seville Spain

Seville is the capital of Andalucia in the southwest corner of Spain. It's less than two hours drive from the frantic Costa del Sol resort of Torremolinos but the two are worlds apart. This is one of the most romantic cities in oozes Andalucian charm and will make you'll feel as though you've stepped into a lavish production of Bizet's Carmen.

For first time visitors to Spain, arriving by car from northern Europe, first impressions after crossing the French border can be a trifle disappointing. No smouldering Antonio Banderas look alikes, no impossibly beautiful dark skinned maidens dancing flamenco and no haughty equestrian riders strutting their stuff in the streets.

But come to Seville and you'll find Spain as you always imagined it. In this once opulent capital of the Moorish kingdom of Al Andalus, you'll step into a wonderful world of fantastic fiestas and genuine gypsy flamenco, of ancient streets lined with orange trees and flower filled balconies, of tapas bars and bullfighting.

You can fly direct to Seville's Aeropuerto San Pablo, nine kilometres to the north east of the city centre. There are several connecting flights with Madrid each day; or take a cheap charter flight into Malaga, 200 kilometres to the south east of Seville.

The best times to visit are in the spring or autumn. Seville (Sevilla in Spanish) is the Iberian Peninsula's hottest city; temperatures can nudge 40C in the height of the summer when the locals head for the coast.

Come here in April if you want to catch one of Spain's biggest and most impressive fiestas the Feria de Abril which sees the city's streets transformed into a giant, round the clock party. The first Seville Fair was held in 1847 when it was little more than a livestock market. These days this spectacular annual knees up attracts more than a million visitors who flock here to join in the week long festival of street dancing, parades, flamenco and fireworks.

The streets are chock a block with multi coloured tents and pavilions which host the all night partying. Horsemen dressed in the traditional costume of wide brimmed "cordobes" hats and short jackets give equestrian displays on magnificent stallions. And Spanish women dressed in extravagant gowns, their elaborate hair dos topped with the traditional "mantilla", show off their finery as they parade through the streets in beautifully decorated carriages.

Another lovely historic hotel is Las Casas de la Juderia a collection of traditional Andalucian houses which have been converted into luxurious hotel accommodation in the old Jewish quarter of the city. The hotel has a three star rating but facilities, service, comforts (and prices!) are top of the range.

Shortly before the fair, Seville has its equally famous Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions in the lead up to Easter when solemn religious processions of rather alarming looking hooded penitents (resembling the Klu Klux Klan) take place alongside much pagan style partying.

If you come here at any other time you can still enjoy a wealth of delights including the 10th century Alcazar Moorish fortress with its wonderful gardens, the magnificent Gothic cathedral, originally built as an Arab mosque in the 12th century, and the spectacular Plaza de España one of the most impressive squares in the whole of Spain with its moat, bridges, fountains and intricate tile work depicting each of Spain's provinces.