Seville

Though located inland,Seville, the cultural and financial capital of southern Spain, was once an important seaport. The Guadalquivir River, which crosses through the region, was navigable up to Cordoba throughout the Middle Ages, but over time silt accumulation has made it impassable beyond Seville.

Much of the city's architecture reflects centuries of Moorish culture, which ended in 1248 after Ferdinand III of Castile gained control. Moors began building the Alcazar of Seville in 1181, and construction continued throughout the next 500 years. Today the fortified palace serves as the Spanish monarchs' official residence.

Cathedral of Sevile
Seville Cathedral

Construction of the Cathedral of Seville, the largest Roman Catholic cathedral in the world, spanned the 15th century. The central nave soars to a breathtaking 42 metres and adjacent chapels are large enough to contain a typical church. Gold accents abound in the lavish interior d├ęcor and Pierre Dancart, a Spanish wood carver, devoted his life's work to creating the 45 Gothic scenes from Christ's life displayed in the Capilla Mayor. The cathedral's Giralda bell tower has grown to become a symbol of the city.

Solemn yet beautiful processions held during Easter holy week, or "Semana Santa", are quite captivating. The poignant atmosphere often moves even the non-religious. A colourful fiesta celebration replete with flamenco music and dancing, horsemanship displays and traditional Spanish dishes follows a few weeks later. Its appealing culture and deep historic and religious roots draw scores of visitors to Seville each year.