Seville

Seville

The 13 episodes in our Seville series cover all the main sights you are likely to visit. Some focus on particular places, such as the atmospheric moorish Alcazar or the glorious art-deco Maria Luisa Park and fill in the background details which will enhance your visit. Others take a theme as their starting point – art, food or the 16th Century voyages to the New World, for example – and then tell you where in the city you can learn about those things today. In short, we have done all the background research for a visit which you’d do yourself if you had the time!


Seville Episode 01 Introduction

Bienvenido a Sevilla! Welcome to Seville!

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This opening podcast will give you an overview of Seville, historically, geographically and culturally, and an idea of the material to be covered in the remaining 12 episodes. We hope that after listening to it, you’ll be looking forward to the rest of the series and keen to get down to planning a visit to Seville or to reminisce about previous visits there. And actually, even if you won’t be visiting any time soon, we hope you will love the ‘virtual visit’ anyway!

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Seville Episode 02 The Alcazar

Seville’s moorish roots

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The Alcazar is the heart of moorish Seville, perhaps the most beautiful building in the city, although there’s strong competition. It captivated later Christian kings like Ferdinand of Castille who moved in and determined to ‘die under its roof’. Meet other inhabitants like Pedro the Cruel, who so admired Islamic designs that he borrowed builders from his friend the Emir of Granada and Ferdinand and Isabella who set up their ‘Casa de la Contratacion’ in the Alcazar and ran their New World Empire from there. Find out what to see and what travel-writers from past ages had to say about this lovely building and its beautiful gardens.

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Seville Episode 03 The cathedral, the Giralda and Santa Cruz

Moors, Christians and Jews

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We look at the way Seville’s cathedral was built on the site of the city’s mosque when the Christians re-conquered the city and at the parts of it – the Giralda, the Patio de los Naranjos and the arched gateway – which date from the Islamic era. After choosing just a tiny proportion of the cathedral’s treasures to highlight, we head off to the nearby area of Santa Cruz, home to the city’s Jewish community before they fled Spain during the Inquisition. Today it’s a charming labyrinth of tiny cobbled streets and flower-filled patios, enticingly viewed through wrought iron gates. Christian, Jewish and Muslim Seville are intertwined in this area.

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Seville Episode 04 The Golden Age

Sailing from Seville to discover the New World

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1492, the year Columbus sailed the ocean blue, marked the beginning of the golden age for Seville, which had the monopoly on trade between Spain and the New World and became Europe’s 16th century boomtown. The episode re-tells the story, then highlights 3 places to visit in today’s Seville which have much to tell you about the city’s role in the discovery of new lands and about the sailors who first sailed right around the globe: the Torre del Oro (Golden Tower), Admiral’s Quarters and the Archivo de Indias, former trade centre and now a museum and archive centre.

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Seville Episode 05 Semana Santa and the Feria de Abril

Seville’s two biggest annual festivals

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For two weeks every spring, it seems as if the world has come to Seville and this episode explains why. Semana Santa, or Holy Week, sees sombre processions by 50 different ‘brotherhoods’ to re-enact the events from the last week of Christ’s life, the culmination of months of preparation and weeks of rehearsals. In late April, it’s party-time at Seville’s six-day long ‘Feria de Abril’, thought to be the liveliest in Spain. After afternoons of carriage-riding or perhaps a paseo on horseback, the long nights are for revelling Seville style which means flamenco, tapas, funfair rides and dancing till dawn.

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Seville Episode 06 The park and the palaces

4 places to wind down in Seville

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An episode about just wandering round Seville for the pleasure of it! Hear about the art-deco charm of the Maria Luisa Park, with its delightful tree-lined avenues, fountains and statues and the splendid Plaza de Espana, built to showcase Spanish culture in 1929 and today a place for ice creams and boating. Then discover three of Seville’s palaces, the Casa de Pilates, the Palacio de las Duenas and the Palacio de Lebrija, where shady courtyards, exquisite archways and tiling and a feast of other treasures await. This episode offers a little history, a spot of travel-writing and a lot of relaxation.

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Seville Episode 07 Triana

The ‘other’ side of the river

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We cross the river Guadalquivir to the ‘other’ side, the former working class district of Triana which has always been a little set apart from the rest of the city. It wasn’t until the mid nineteenth century that a stable bridge was built to link Triana and Seville! Hear about its Moorish and gypsy roots, its links to Christopher Columbus and its critical role in Seville’s world-famous ceramics industry. Find out about its ‘endearingly scruffy’ atmosphere and how it is the place where two of Andalucia’s most important cultural traditions are thought to have begun: flamenco and bull-fighting.

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Seville Episode 08 Bullfighting

A long-standing tradition

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Bullfighting is an integral part of Sevillian culture, whether you are for or against it. We look at the arguments on both sides, then learn a little history and some basic facts about bullfighting today. We also visit the Seville bullring – the oldest in Spain – and its museum and hear from travel writers, novelists and poets what they thought about it all.

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Seville Episode 09 Flamenco

The unique art-form which Seville has made its own

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Flamenco originated in Andalucia and has a long tradition in Seville. Find out about its roots in gypsy culture and about all the aspects which combine to make this colourful, dramatic art-form so unique: music, song, rhythm, dance, gesture and costume. Hear about the Museo del Baile Flamenco, Seville’s flamenco museum with its informative displays and concerts and discover how various travel-writers reacted when they came across this highly emotional art form.

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Seville Episode 10 Art in Seville

Paintings with Sevillian roots

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Many of Seville’s art treasures date from the ‘Siglo de Oro’, the ‘golden century’ when the city grew rich as the hub of New World exploration. We visit the Hospital de la Caridad and the Hospital de los Venerables to see works by acclaimed painters like Murillo and Zurbaran. Then it’s off to the Museo de Bellas Artes, where many of the paintings are by Spanish artists and where the stated aim is to be ‘an essential element in the cultural identity of Seville’. We finish with short biographies of three famous painters with very Sevillian roots.

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Seville Episode 11 Gastronomia

Tapas and other treats

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A Spanish proverb says that he whom the gods favour will eat in Seville. (‘A quien dios quiere bien, en Sevilla le da a comer’) This episode offers an overview of Andalucian food, from staples like olives and fish, to the delicious and seemingly endless array of little treats known as tapas. Hear about Arabic influences, sherry production and much more and savour the experiences of a number of travel writers who enjoyed what they ate and drank in Seville and then wrote about it memorably.

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Seville Episode 12 Travel Writers on Seville

Glimpses of Seville, past and present

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First, some short quotations including one from Lord Byron, who famously praised the city for its ‘oranges and women’ and another from Jan Morris who wrote more poetically of the air which was ‘heavy with jasmine and orange blossom’. Then, time is devoted to five writers of longer accounts. Enjoy hearing, for example, abour Richard Ford’s ‘Handbook for Travellers in Spain’, written in the 1830s, Laurie Lee’s account of walking through Andalucia in the 1930s and the writings of Jason Webster and Edward Lewine whose more recent travelogues focus on a search for the country’s arabic roots and its bullfighting tradition respectively.

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Seville Episode 13 Stories of Seville

Fictional characters who make the city famous

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Hear stories about some of Seville’s best known fictional characters. We start with Cervantes’ low-life tricksters Rinconete and Cortadillo, operating in 16th century Seville. Then there’s Carmen, the fictional character originally created by Prosper Merimee whose dramatic story so captured the imagination of 19th century readers that they thought she was real and came to Seville to meet her. And finally, Don Juan, whom no-one could ‘outsmart in gambling, duelling or making love’ and who was brought to life in stories, plays and operas by a number of writers. Discover too where to find traces of all three in today’s Seville.

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A Virtual Visit to Seville

A bonus episode to whet your appetite

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This virtual visit to Seville takes you on a tour of websites, YouTube videos and books which will bring the spirit of the city alive for you even if you can’t go there right now. Find out – or reminisce – about the enticing blend of medieval and moorish architecture in the Alcazar and the art-deco splendour of the Plaza de Espana. Take a little tour of highlights at the Museo de Bellas Artes or the tapas restaurants in the city centre. Hear what writers who travelled to the city had to say about its food, its Arabic roots and its bullfighting traditions.

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