THE CAPITAL OF ANDALUSIA
Seville is one of the top tourist destinations in southern Europe. It is situated in the south-west of the Iberian Peninsula and is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia with a population of around 700,000 inhabitants.
The city was founded here over 3,000 years ago thanks to its proximity to the River Guadalquivir, with its extraordinarily fertile territory lying between marshes and the river delta, only 80 km from the Atlantic Ocean. Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths and Arabs settlers all made their home here and their civilizations have given the city a rich historic and artistic heritage.
It has three monuments declared World Heritage by the UNESCO (the Cathedral/Giralda Tower, the Arab Castle (Alcázar) and the Archivo de Indias, which houses the records of Spanish colonization in the New World) and a long list of beautiful, unique buildings, both civil and religious, containing countless works of art by outstanding architects, sculptors and painters over the ages.
Seville has an action-packed cultural calendar, and caters for a wide range of tastes, including opera, Flamenco, classical music, jazz, zarzuela (Spanish light opera), rock, hip-hop, pop, exhibitions, theatre, cinema, and comics. Most importantly, Seville is famous for being the cradle of Flamenco music, which was recently declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity, but it is also a place that has inspired many operas over the centuries - the city features in over 150 operatic works, the best known of which are "Carmen", "Don Giovanni" or "The Barber of Seville".
Gastronomy is another of its star attractions. There is an enormous variety, from traditional fare like Gazpacho and the huge range of tapas served in all the bars and restaurants dotted around the city centre - where the local rub shoulders with visitors - to the latest innovative dishes based on these traditional recipes.
Seville has an excellent climate with an average annual temperature of 18 - 20ºC. Over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year guarantees that visitors can usually enjoy outdoor pursuits any time of the year.
Seville's universal claim to fame lies in its role in historical events as crucial as the conquest and colonization of America or the first circumnavigation of the world.
Many great artists were born and bred in Seville: Velázquez, Murillo, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Luis Cernuda, the Machado brothers and Joaquín Turina, to name but a few. Many others hailing from other climes made Seville their home and helped to make it one of the most important world centres of art and culture, including Miguel de Cervantes, Torrigiano, Zurbarán, Martínez Montañés or Juan de Mesa.
As well as nurturing its huge legacy of the past, Seville is a city which looks to the future and is continually evolving. Evident signs of this include the modern architecture bequeathed by the 1992 Universal Exhibition, the "Las Setas" sculptural group in the Plaza de la Encarnación, the newly-built Congress and Exhibition Centre of Sevilla whose 3,200-seat auditorium is the largest in Spain, and the network of over 160 km of cycle lanes, which has made Seville one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe.