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Seville History

Legend has it that Hercules founded Seville himself upon six stone columns. However, the area was settled in the Bronze Age. Later, the Romans made Seville (which they called Hisplais) a principal city of Roman Andalusia. It flourished tremendously under their rule and several monuments erected during the time survive to this day, including the city’s aqueduct.

When the Moors crossed the Strait of Gibraltar with a huge army in the early 8th century, the city fell under their control for the next few hundred years. It was re-branded Isbiliya, from where the name Seville stems, and filled with architectural masterpieces such as the breathtaking Alcázar palace.

Fernando III of Castile reclaimed Seville for the Christians in 1248 and the city prospered further in the 16th and 17th centuries after Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. Seville then became the most important port in Europe as ships departed for the Americas as part of the Spanish expansion. The legacy of sparkling churches, royal palaces and beautiful houses endures to this day.

In 1755, an earthquake severely damaged the city, but much of it was rebuilt in extraordinary fashion under Isabella II during a construction boom about a century later. It continued to grow in the 19th and 20th centuries. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), it fell quickly to the forces loyal to Franco. Thousands of civilians from the city died in the conflict.

Towards the end of the 20th century the good times arrived again, and Seville held the World Fair in 1992 – 500 years since Colombus reached the New World. The Expo led to the construction of more modern complexes on the Isla de Cartuja. Popular with tourists and with an architectural treasure trove almost unmatched in Spain, Seville now lies close behind Madrid and Barcelona as a cultural centre.

Did you know?
• Italica, a nearby Roman colony, was the birthplace of Emperors Trajan and Hadrian.
• Seville’s importance dates back to its standing as capital of Castile, the most prominent kingdom in Spanish history.
• The President of Spain between 1982 and 1996 was a Sevillian, Felipe González.

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Featured Hotels


Corral del Rey

Set on a narrow street in the old town, this stylish boutique hotel is set in a 17th century palacio. The rooms are set in two buildings around a central courtyard and furnished in antiques with Moroccan touches. If you don't treat yourself to the suite with two terraces and a private plunge pool, the rooftop garden has a pool too. Downstairs, there's a tapas bar. The hotel arranges insightful tours of the city too.

Hotel Abril

Located along Calle San Jerónimo Hernández, one of the main shopping streets of Seville, Hotel Abril is a humble bolthole with reasonably good prices. Rooms are spacious and clean, with homely decor; some have windows opening into the lobby but they are quieter than those opening onto the street. For those keeping to a tight budget, free coffee and tea is available throughout the day. A hearty breakfast buffet is also available for an extra fee. All rooms are en suite and come with free Wi-Fi and air-conditioning.

YH Giralda

A former house of the abbots, the YH Giralda is a perennially popular option for young couples seeking affordable comfort. The 2-star hotel is just metres away from the Giralda, in the midst of tapas bars and shops. The tastefully-furnished rooms are small but comfortable and are all en suite. Ask for the patio-facing rooms as they are quieter than those overlooking the streets.

Hotel Boutique Elvira Plaza

This small boutique hotel - there are only nine rooms, two of them suites - is set in a charming pedestrianised square in Santa Cruz, the former Jewish district. Although the rooms are on the small size, they are light and stylish. A roof terrace looks out onto the city, and there are plenty of restaurants nearby.

Hotel Alfonso XIII

If you're looking to splurge, the Hotel Alfonso XIII is arguably one of the most prestigious hotels in Seville. Converted from a neo-Moorish palace, the hotel pays homage to Spain's past. Huge chandeliers, opulent fabrics and an exotic ambiance make it the preferred choice of the rich and famous, including foreign royalties, members of the government and celebrities. The hotel's cocktail bar is ideal for pre-prandial drinks by the pool, followed by dinner at San Fernando Restaurant or its venerable tapas lounge.

EME Catedral Hotel

Stylish and chic, the EME Catedral Hotel stands out for its juxtaposition of avant garde and rustic. Rooms are tastefully decorated with modish touches while the bricked walls and vaulted ceilings take on a rugged appearance. The rooftop swimming pool and terrace bar have spectacular views of the Cathedral, and dining options include a rustic Italian restaurant. The hotel also features glass floors that reveal Roman ruins under the hotel.