Seville is situated on the banks of the river Guadalquivir. It possesses a rich Arabian legacy and the only river port in Spain, historically being a hub of commerce with the Americas. It’s a joy to experience the hustle and bustle of the capital of Andalusia with its quaint little streets and square in the old town which comprises an interesting collection of buildings. The old town contains no less than three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Seville Cathedral (consecrated in 1507) has, since its construction, been known as the Magna Hispalensis. It’s the largest Gothic Cathedral and the third largest church in the world. In 1928 the Cathedral was declared a National Monument and in 1987 it was registered by UNESCO as aWorld Heritage Site. It is home to many important archives and libraries, including the Colombina Library in the Patio de los Naranjos (the inner court of the orange trees). Its architectural features are the sum of consecutive expansions and modifications since the initial construction on the site of the Great Mosque, built by the Almohades in the 12th century. Nowadays the only remnants visible of the mosque are the Patio de losNaranjos and the minaret, the Giralda, where we have a wonderful view over the city. The Cathedral contains many beautiful artworks.
The Plaza de España (Spain Square) is built in a regionalist style (a mixture of art-deco within neo-mudejar, gothic and renaissance revival). The materials which are used are brick and ceramics. Around the square are 48 alcoves, in alphabetical order, dedicated to the Spanish provinces, decorated with ceramic tiles representing historic scenes, together with the coat of arms and the map of the province. A little river circles the square, with four bridges representing the four kingdoms of which the Spanish crown consisted: Castilla, Leon, Navarra and Aragon. Nowadays the buildings are the seat of different public offices, the civil and also the military government of Seville.
Cadiz, with its 3,000 year old history, is the most southern city in Europe. It’s a maritime city, full of light. The Walls of the Puertas de Tierra clearly separate the modern city from the old. The old city is full of little streets, squares and typical places such as: ‘La Viña’, the old fishermen district where you can try the famous ‘pescaito frito’ (fried fish); the ‘Mentidero’ district or ‘Santa Maria’ quarter famous for Flamenco singing (e.g. San Juan de Dios square) and the ‘El Populo’ district of the old medieval city.
The old town is a historic centre where we find the most important monuments, the commercial district (ideal for shopping) and the ‘La Caleta’ beach with a road over the reef (flanked by the Santa Catalina and San Sebastian castles). The new district has modern buildings, avenues, a Beach Boulevard as well as the beautiful beaches of La Victoria, Santa Maria del Mar and Cortadura.
Cadiz is a lively city with a typical Andalusian character. In order to really know Cadiz you need to wander through its streets, taking time to talk to the locals, walk through the gardens and avenues, enjoy the atmosphere, the terraces and busy bars.
Cadiz is the oldest continuously-inhabited city in Spain and indeed one of the oldest in southwest Europe. Founded by the Phoenicians around 1,100 B.C. it was home to a plethora of cultures including the Greeks, Romans, Visigoths and Arabs. King Alfonso X The Wise reconquered the City in 1262 and had a Cathedral built on the same site where the old Arabian mosque was previously situated.
The city has a close association with Columbus as it was his departure point on his second and fourth voyages to discover America and also the point of return for his third voyage (he departed from San Lucar de Barrameda).
During the 18th century Cadiz became one of the most important cities in Spain because of the creation of the ‘Casa de Contratacion’ for commerce with ‘The Indies’. From then on it became a liberal, cosmopolitan city and one of the most important commercial centres in Europe. These liberal ideas were secured in 1812, the year when the government was formed and the first Spanish Constitution was written, which made Cadiz the capital of Spain between 1810 and 1813.
The most important (historically and artistically significant) buildings are located in the old town of Cadiz:
- The Cathedral: Neoclassic baroque from the 18th century. The Cathedral museum contains many treasures. The famous composer Manuel de Falla (born in Cadiz) is buried in the crypt.
- The Church of Santa Cruz: The old cathedral, first constructed in the 13th century. Worth mentioning are the altarpiece of the main altar and the Genoese chapel.
- The Chapel of the holy Felipe Neri: Construction started in the 17th century. The Main Altar is in Rococo style and contains a representation of the Immaculate Conception by Murillo. This chapel was the seat for the government of Cadiz in 1812, where the first constitution was written.
- The Pray Chapel of the Santa Coeval (1796) where we can see three paintings by Goya.
- The Old Women Hospital of the 18th century has a beautiful inner court where a Via Crucis (stations of the Cross) of Flemish paintings can be admired, together with a Baroque staircase. The church of the Hospital has a painting by El Greco.
- The Church of San Agustin (1647) with interesting sculptures and paintings.
- The Tower Tavira – Camera Obscura.
Civil architecture worth mentioning:
- The Walls with the so-called gates ‘Puertas de Tierra’ that date back to the 17th century. Three older gates from the primitive city are: the gate of la Rosa, gate of El Populo and gate of the Blancos.
- The Royal Prison (converted into the actual Courthouse), considered to be the best neoclassic monument of the city.
- The Palace of Los Mora, the House of the Admiral or the House of Las Cardenas are good examples of the city flourishing in the 18th and 19thcentury.
- Strongholds of La Candelaria and los Martires
- The Castles of San Sebastian and Santa Catalina
- Bastions: van la Candelaria en van los Martires.
- The Theatre Falla, new mudejar, of 1909, built where a wooden theatre used to be.
- The Roman Theater, of larger dimensions.