seville
We think of Seville as the most Spanish of cities. Flamenco, sangria, gazpacho, and bullfighting all hail from Seville and its surroundings.

Bizet set “Carmen” here. And Mozart chose it too, both for “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Don Giovanni.” Then there’s Rossini’s “Barber of Seville.”

Seville is a seductive, sun-drenched city of orange blossoms. It is a great walking city with a variety of neighborhoods, each with pretty squares surrounded by shallow wrought iron balconies. Orange trees adorn every street and square and birds sing on patios and red-tiled roofs.

Cafes are full of families eating churros and sipping hot chocolate. Tapas bars serving fresh and local treats can be found on almost every corner, so busy that the crowd often flows into the streets.

At one time, Seville was Spain’s largest city. It was the gateway through which the vast wealth of the New World poured. It served as the host of two World Expositions (the grounds of the 1929 World’s Fair have been turned into one of Spain’s prettiest parks).

The enormous cathedral, the burial place of Christopher Columbus, is the third largest in Christendom and claims to be the largest Gothic building in the world. Its bell tower – the famous 12th century Giralda – was originally one of the largest minarets in the world.

In our opinion, Seville is at its best during the spring. The climax of spring is Semana Santa (Holy Week). Dozens of lavish, colorful processions thread their way through the city each day, celebrating the days leading up to Easter with Andalusian flair. Tens of thousands of people line the streets.

Shortly after Semana Santa comes the April Fair (Feria), a two-week celebration that is one of the annual highlights of the social calendar for Seville’s society.

Experience Semana Santa firsthand with a behind-the-scenes look at the preparations of the religious fraternities for the processions, followed by a privileged balcony view of all the festivities. Enjoy Feria just as a local would, in a private caseta (stand), as a guest of one of Seville’s most prominent families.

Test your dance moves during a private flamenco lesson in one of Seville’s top academies; or enjoy a performance and jam session with flamenco musicians in the private back room of a local bar.

If you’re interested in venturing outside the city, you can visit a nearby estate where bulls are raised for the oldest of Spanish traditions – the bullfight. Learn from an insider about why this art form plays such an important role in Spain and hear firsthand stories. The farm also raises Andalusian horses.

A bit further away, but within easy daytrip distance, are the White Villages, Cordoba and bio-diverse La Donana National Park.