December 23rd, 2010
The capital of Andalucia and without a doubt one of Spain’s most beautiful cities. Sevilla has often been described as a feminine city and one that is not afraid to expose her charms. The Sevillanos are an extremely proud and passionate people. To many Sevilla is not just a place, it is a way of life.
The Guadalquivir, Semana Santa, the April Feria, Velazquez, Don Juan Tenorio, orange blossom, the dancing of Sevillanas and bullfights….. Sevilla is bright, beautiful and above all, it is passionate. It is a city that must be seen and must be experienced.
Brief History of Sevilla
The history of Sevilla has been dominated by its proximity to the river Guadalquivir. First and foremost Sevilla has been a river port.
As with so many cities in Andalucia, the exact origins of Sevilla are not clear. It is widely believed that the city was founded by Iberians, later becoming a Greek, Phoenician and finally a Roman colony.
Romans and Visigoths
Following a long siege the Romans overran the city in 205 BC – they named the city Hispalis. The first part of the Roman rule was characterised by a series of internal disputes.
In 42 BC Julius Caesar conquered the city. Under Caesar’s rule Sevilla flourished, eventually becoming one of the main cities in Baetica. Nearly all of Sevilla’s fortifications were constructed during this period.
In the 5C the Vandels invaded the region; they were subsequently expelled by the Visigoths. The Visigoths made Sevilla the capital of their kingdom until the court was transferred to Toldeo. The author of Etymologies, bishop St Isidore, who had a great influence on Medieval European culture was a prominent figure in the 6C.
Following the Moorish conquest in 712, Seville came under a long period of Moorish rule.
The city was originally under the control the of Cordoba. Upon the fall of the Caliphate in 1031, Sevilla became a taifa kingdom.
It was during the rule of Al Mutamid that Sevilla experienced the greatest cultural developments.
With the various factions that came to be dominant during the ends of the Moorish era, the control of Sevilla changed hands several times with the Almohads eventually taking control from the Almoravids, towards the beginnings of the 12C. It was during this period that both the Giralda and the Mosque (Mezquita) were built. On the site where the Cathedral now stands.
Alfonso X the wise, was a prominent character. He was responsible for giving the city its coat of arms to commemorate the loyalty and support he received from the city.
The figure of eight in the emblem, creates the motto “No madeja do” or “No me ha dejado,” which translates as “it has not forsaken me.”
The Golden Age
With the discovery of America in 1492, Sevilla developed a monopoly on trade with the New World. It became the arrival and departure point for every expedition to the newly discovered continent. Sevilla began to amass a great wealth, palaces were built, new industries were created and the whole city was a hive of activity. All financed by American gold. The population almost doubled during the course of the 16C, rising to almost 200,000 inhabitants.
In 1649 Sevilla suffered from a massive plague that decimated the local population. The silting of the river Guadalquivir lead to the transfer of all shipping expeditions to Cadiz. In 1717 the Casa de Contratación - the governmental office responsible for controlling trade with the Americas – was formerly relocated to Cadiz.
The 20th Century
The beginnings of the 20th of Century were characterised by hardship. Plagues, crop failures and the Spanish Civil War all took their toll on the local population.
In 1929 Sevilla hosted the Ibero-American Exhibition and in 1992, the Expo. Both of these events had a significant impact on the layout of the city. Sevilla’s most famous Park – Parque de Maria Luisa – was re-designed just before the Ibero-American exhibition by the french landscape architect Nicolas Forestier.
The 1992 Expo lead to the construction of the Isla de la Cartuja. The site on which the Expo was held. Today it houses both the Isla Mágica theme park and the centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo.