Seville, an elegant city of over 700,000 people, rose to prominence as a working seaport on the Guadalquivir River. It served as the launching point for the exploration voyages of Christopher Columbus. Subsequent wealth that poured in from the New World making Seville one of the most important trade centers in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. In addition, the wealth of treasures the conquistadors plundered from the Incas and Aztecs funded an expansion in Spanish military power greater than anything in human history up to that time. That wealth is nowhere more evident than in Seville.
Seville added to its prominence in the era of exploration with the global circumnavigation voyage of Ferdinand Magellan, which left from Seville in 1519. The city monopolized trans-Atlantic trade with the discovery of the New World and opened a Golden Age of art, literature and music. It was during this era that Cervantes wrote Don Quixote de La Mancha and the art works of Diego Velazquez and El Greco gained world recognition. The influence of these and other Spanish artists has carried over through The Renaissance to modern times.
Today, the architecture of Seville is a study in contrasts. The Cathedral of Seville is the largest Gothic style cathedral in the world and third largest cathedral of any type. The ultra-modern Parasol Metropol is the largest wooden structure in the world, and covers a subterranean archeological site. On the ground level is fresh market where vendors’ stalls offer extensive choices of meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables and baked goods. While it is not the largest of public markets, it offers a full range of purchase options. It is also maintained to a level of pristine cleanliness that outshines any public market I have ever seen.
Seville buzzes with vibrancy like any great university city with lots of young people surrounded by the bustle of commerce. I found a rich mixture of modern and historic architecture. There is no denying the artistic elegance of the city which proudly proclaims its class and style.
This vibrant city will resonate with me for a long time. There is so much to see in Seville that I wish I would have had more time there. Unfortunately, a single day was all we had. That was most important thing I learned from our visit to Seville – to not try to fit in everything worth seeing into a single day.
© All photos copyrighted by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince