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Sanlucar de Barrameda

Sevilla

GiraldaAccording to legend, Sevilla was founded by Hercules and its origins are linked with the Tartessian civilisation. It was called Hispalis under the Romans and Isbiliya with the Moors. Its high point in its history was following the discovery of America.

Sevilla lies on the banks of the Guadalquivir and is one of the largest historical centres in Europe, it has the minaret of La Giralda, the cathedral (one of the largest in Christendom), and the Alcázar Palace. Part of its treasure include Casa de Pilatos, Torre del Oro, the Town Hall, Archive of the Indies (where the historical records of the American continent are kept), the Fine Arts Museum (the second largest picture gallery in Spain) , plus convents, parish churches and palaces.

CITY WALLS & GATES

AlcazarAs you arrive in the city, look out for remnants of ancient stone walls marooned in the centre of busy roads, plus an impressive, well-preserved 400-metre section in Macarena, near the Andalucian parliament building. These are the remains of the city walls, or murallas, dating from the 12th century - Seville was once the most strongly fortified city in Europe.

It was the Romans, probably under Julius Caesar, who constructed the first city defences. But the Almoravids, Moors who ruled Andalucia in the 11th and 12th centuries, were responsible for the simple but effective 6km-long walls. They were designed to defend the city against both enemy attacks and frequent floods from the river Guadalquivir.

It has hosted two international exhibitions (1929 and 1992) and is the administrative capital of Andalucía. The quarter of Triana on the other side of the river, La Macarena, Santa Cruz and San Bartolomé, the street of Las Sierpes, plus La Maestranza bullring, María Luisa park and the riverside walks are all representative images of Sevilla.

For all its important monuments and fascinating history, Sevilla is universally famous for being a joyous town. While the Sevillians are known for their wit and sparkle, the city itself is striking for its vitality. It is the largest town in Southern Spain, the city of Carmen, Don Juan and Figaro.

In Sevilla, you will want to visit the old city, with the Cathedral and the Giralda tower at its heart. (You can climb the steps inside the tower for a magnificent view of the City). Very close by are the royal Mudéjar palace known as the Alcazar with marvellous gardens and the Santa Cruz quarter, with cramped streets, flowered balconies, richly decorated facades, hidden patios... Other sights not to be missed are, in the old city, the Casa de Pilatos, a large sixteenth-century mansion where Mudejar, Gothic and Renaissance styles blend harmoniously amidst exuberant patios and gardens and, crossing the Triana bridge over the large Guadalquívir River, the lively popular quarter of Triana with charming narrow streets around the church of Santa Ana and traditional ceramic factories.

The Roman Amphitheatre, Italica

ItalicaThe Roman ruins and remarkable mosaics of Italica are located less than 9 kilometres to the north of the city, just outside the village of Santiponce. There is also a well preserved Roman theatre in Santiponce which is signposted from the main road.

Italica was the birthplace of three emperors and one of the earliest Roman settlements in Spain founded in 206 BC. It rose to considerable military importance in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. Throughout the Middle Ages, the ruins were used as a source of stone for Seville, but fortunately the amphitheatre has survived, although these days it is crumbling perilously. Beyond this are about twenty mosaics, including an excellent coloured floor with birds, Neptune and the Seasons.

The 27km-long Via Verde de Vitalica is a footpath along a former railway line used for transporting pyrite from the Aznalcóllar mines northwest of Seville to the city's port on the Guadalquivir river. From Itálica, you can join the vía verde 4km south at Santiponce, via the N630. From Santiponce, you can either head south to Seville or northwest to Gerena along the vía verde.

Seville Magic Island in Spain

Isla magica

A spectacular theme park that recreates the great age of discoveries and Spain's adventures in South America during the 15th and 16th centuries. You can explore the Amazon, travel the Quetzal trail, visit a pirate's lair and find out how the indigenous peoples used to live back then. The most popular attractions are the hair-raising roller-coaster called the Jaguar (only suitable for the very daring) and the theatre shows. The park opens for the season in March and daily opening hours vary according to the time of year.