“Intrepid spirits seek victory over those things that seem impossible”
After spending several hours in Córdoba, we pressed on to Seville, our home for the next couple days. It’s the capital of Andalusia and the fourth largest city in Spain, behind Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. Its cathedral is the third largest cathedral in Europe, behind St. Peter’s in the Vatican and St. Paul’s in London.
The city goes all the way back to the Phoenicians, then called Spal. The Romans knew it as Hispalis. The Muslim occupation of Seville began in 712 and ended in 1248 when Ferdinand III of Castile proceeded with his Reconquista. The Barber of Seville and Don Juan both have played a part in the history of the city, and flamenco dancing originated here in the heart of Andalusia.
Seville has the only river port in Spain – the Guadalquivir River is 50 navigable miles from the Atlantic Ocean. My boy Magellan set off from here in 1519 to begin the first circumnavigation of the world. Aside: I realize that Magellan did not complete his voyage, getting himself killed in the Philippines only to have his bones continue the journey. Technically I suppose this still means he circumnavigated the world, living and dead. /aside
The “discovery” of the Americas in the 15th century set Seville up as a main trade center for New World goods entering Spain and the rest of the continent via the Guadalquivir. If Córdoba was tops in the 10th century, the 17th century was prime time for Seville until gradual silting of the river shifted the trade center to the port of Cadiz. The 20th century was significant in Seville because of two major expositions (in 1929 and 1992), which both saw major construction completed in the city. The Achivo General de Indias houses all of the archival materials from the Americas, including Columbus’ reports back to Ferdinand III and Isabella II, among many other documents related to the Spanish conquest of the Americas and Philippines.
Though interesting, none of these facts give you a sense of the immensity of the Old Town and her winding labyrinth of streets or the spirit of her people and their rich culture dating back centuries. Like everywhere else I visited in Spain, Seville is a city of contrasts layered together to create a vibrant, compelling sense of the future.
Stay tuned tomorrow for details from my visit to one of the major landmarks in Seville, the Plaza de España.