SEVILLA’S HISTORY, CULTURE, AND CLAIM TO FAME

By A.G.Billig
In Escapes
Oct 25th, 2019
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Photo Credit: Leigh Cooper

Sevilla, Spain is well known for its flamenco dancers, Moorish architecture and religious ceremonies. Seville’s city’s quarters house a colorful array of tapa bars lining city streets, designed for customers to pop into one bar for a plate or two, then sidle up to the next tapa bar for another course or two.

Explore more of Sevilla, Spain in my novel, Initiated to Kill. Meander the Jewish quarters of Santa Cruz with Annabella, discover character’s secrets with Andres in Triana, and become lost in the halls of Seville University. Huelva Beach displaying a scene linked to an ancient initiation ritual. 

Wander through Plaza de Espana, the epitome of Moorish Revival in Spanish architecture. Follow Annabella’s footsteps in Maria Luisa Park with its wide range of food, festivals and artwork.

Sevilla meanders the valley of the Guadalquivir River; just picture Andres rowing through the 60 navigable kilometers of water, the Triana Bridge curving over the water to connect the two cities.

Across the university Parque de Maria Luisa is a welcome abode to spring. The paradisiacal array of palms and orange trees, elms and Mediterranean pines creates an escape from the busy city life. 

The San Telmo palace beckons in the distance as Annabella enters its vibrant gardens. 

Discover the narrow cobbled streets, with whitewashed houses, peering out on the tapa bars interwoven with the traditional orange blossom trees that line the small squares.

Sevilla is a city worth exploring, with movies and television shows using the numerous locations for its breathtaking scenery. So sit back and relax and learn more about this city steeped in Catholic and Moorish culture.

Sevilla’s Historical Significance

The Spanish conquest of the American continent relied heavily on the harbors of Guadalquivir River. Silver and gold making their way from the New World to Sevilla on this river that hosts a range of monuments and culture.

Plaza de Espana by Fabio Ballasina

The Alcazar palace housed the kings throughout the ages, still standing strong, rooted in its Islamic history. Throughout Spain, its Islamic culture can be seen everywhere. Once stood a great mosque, now the infamous cathedral looms at a staggering 42 meters in height.

Once Spanish trade increased after 1503, Sevilla attracted all sorts of life, from priests, to wealthy men, beggars and conmen.

The Renaissance encouraged the golden age of art and architecture, with baroque buildings making the way into the multi-cultural city.

Crippled by the plague in 1649, the river became less navigable. Sevilla strove to remain strong, weakened by another plague in the 1800s caused the majority to remain impoverished, falling quickly to the Nationalists in 1936.

Sevilla finally began to spring its way back to significance in 1980 when it was named the capital of Andalucía. 

A City Steeped in Culture and Tradition

Close your eyes and imagine the extravagance of the display of the death of Christ. The reverberation of the marching bands, crying and laughter erupting through busy streets as the Madruga or processions carrying images of Christ wind through way through the adoring crowds. People falling in reverence on the busy avenues to touch, kiss and confess to the images of Christ and the Virgin Mary over the week before the crucifixion, cultivating the memory of the crucifixionof Christ and his resurrection. 

Semana Santa has begun. But the spectacle doesn’t stop there. Two weeks after Easter Sunday, a weeklong party commences, evolving into a sexy Spanish round-the-clock show of flamenco dancing, bull fighting and drinking.

Feria de April boasts these massive party, where hundreds of tents are erected, filled with dance halls, shows, festivals, wine drawn from a well, and parades of horses and carriages wind through way through the city. 

If you’re wanting a bit of down-time from the show, then the Alcazar Palace is a must-see. The Alcazar Palace could easily be viewed as a museum with sections of Moorish, Gothic, Mudejar and Renaissance devoted areas.

The Alcazar isn’t just a place to reminiscence, but also to create new modern memories, featuring as a location for the Water Gardens of Dorne in Games of Thrones.

Alcazar de Sevilla by Hanh Nguyen

The Cathedral is another place of cultural significance. An unforgettable sight – the central nave looming at 42 meters high, one can easily see how this cathedral is the largest gothic cathedral in the world.

Surprisingly, the cathedral is simplistic in design. Housing eras of wealth, art, gothic woodcarvings, paintings by Murillo, the actual tomb of Christopher Columbus. Even the kids will have fun with checking out the stuffed crocodile, which was a gift from the Sultan of Egypt to King Alfonso X (alive at the time).

Rolling plains, swampy hills and stunning lakes was the backdrop to Naboo in Star Wars, Attack of the Clones. So, one could easily forget the true landscape of where Naboo actually was – Plaza de Espana.

Tingle Your Senses with Sevilla’s Nightlife

Sevilla, in particular, is well known for its singular way of dining out – tapas. For the Spanish, it is usual to walk from one tapa bar to the next, grazing on small plates of food for sharing.

Interestingly, tapas evolved from little plates used to cover glasses, or used as a ‘lid’ to prevent bugs from getting in the drinks. 

Calle Dean la Miranda by Richard Hewat

It is such a tradition in Spain, that on the weekend you will see customers spilling out on the narrow barrios of the city, sampling the tapas and drinks, while chatting to friends. None seem bothered that they’re not sitting. The true definition of social dining.

Whether like Andres you fancy to stay at one tapa bar, or wander to the variety of tapa bars scattered throughout the city.

One cannot leave Seville without at least visiting some of the flamenco bars and other themed bars around the city.

La Alameda de Hercules stands the monument to the great myth Hercules, and thrives in its Bohemian culture. With its pumping nightclub called ‘Alameda’, it’s a popular nightspot for young people and tourists.

The Intriguing History of Sevilla University

Located in the heart of Sevilla, once Sevilla’s thriving tobacco factory. The large oval entrance, adorned with an angel perched on top, stretched along the expanse of palm trees, filling the oval stone archways. 

Seville University bespoke of times long past, of century-old architecture that still to this day holds strong. 

Years ago, this old building housed the many women that toiled for long hours making tobacco. 

Large rooms on every floor occupy the two-level, neo- classical structure, door-size glass windows opening onto patios. 

Stroll through the halls of this great university as Andres attempts to discover who is behind the disappearance of female students. 

Location, Location, Location

If you are a movie buff, then Sevilla definitely boasts some high profile shots. With the Alcazar set for Game of Thrones, to Plaza de Espana featuring in the ‘Dictator’ as governor Aladeen’s palace. 

Picture the scene of princess Amidala and young Anakin Skywalker as they take a stroll in the upper area of Plaza de Espana, created as Naboo’s palace.

Tom Cruise enters into the Holy Week of Sevilla in Mission Impossible II with the torches lit, and the sound of flamenco dancers increasing the tension of the moment.

Photo credit: Joan Oger

The Alcazar wasn’t the only location for Games of Thrones. The Atarazanas represented the Red Keep, and the amphitheater of Italica was used to create the dragon pit in King’s Landing.

Once again, the Alcazar features forefront in the movie Kingdom of Heaven with Orlando Bloom.

As Halle Berry ascends from the crystal waters in 007: Die Another Day, we get the chance to glimpse the Cadiz beach.

Other well-known films with some of the most epic shots was Lawrence of Arabia in 1962, Cleopatra in 1963, Alatriste, Exodus: Gods and Kings, 007: Never Say Never Again, Spaghetti Western, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Neverending story, Doctor Zhivago and Knight and Day.

Seville is truly a unique spot, thriving in culture and tradition. In Initiated to Kill I delve deeper into the secrets this city holds, the nightlife and food, monuments, the history that still impacts the present, and take you through the city’s quarters to explore this vibrant city.

About the author: Sharlene Almond is an author, freelance journalist, editor and proofreaderr.. She also has a diploma in Body Language and Criminology, enabling me to explicitly portray her main character. Living in Auckland, New Zealand with her two dogs and partner, she enjoys watching documentaries about history and conspiracy theories, giving me ideas for her next books.

Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, and Twitter.

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