Seville (səvĬl´, sĕ´–), Span. Sevilla, city (1990 pop. 678,218), capital of Seville prov. and leading city of Andalusia, SW Spain, on the Guadalquivir River. Connected with the Atlantic by the river and by a canal accessible to oceangoing vessels, Seville is a major port as well as an important industrial, cultural, and tourist center. Wines, fruit, olives, cork, and minerals are exported. Its industries include the manufacture of tobacco, armaments, explosives, perfume, porcelain, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, textiles, and machinery. It has a university (founded 1502).
Points of Interest
Seville has kept much of its Moorish aspect. The Gothic cathedral (1401–1519), one of the world's largest, occupies the site of a former mosque, of which two parts remain—the Court of Oranges and the beautiful Giralda tower. The interior of the cathedral is extraordinarily rich and contains invaluable works of art and the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Adjoining the cathedral is the alcazar, built (14th cent.) in Moorish style by Moorish artisans on the order of Peter I (Peter the Cruel) and rivaling the Alhambra in its exquisite decorations and splendid halls. Among the many other notable buildings of Seville are the city hall (16th cent.); the former lonja, or exchange, which contains the archives of Spanish America; the university buildings, which were formerly a large tobacco factory (scene of part of the action of Mérimée's and Bizet's Carmen); and numerous churches and private palaces. Seville is the capital of bullfighting in Spain and a center of the Andalusian Romani (Gypsies), famed for their songs and dances.
The ancient Hispalis, Seville was important in Phoenician times. It was favored by the Romans, who made it a judicial center of Baetica prov. and who built the nearby city of Italica (where the emperors Trajan and Hadrian were born), of which some ruins remain. Seville continued as the chief city of S Spain under the Vandals and the Visigoths. In the 6th cent. Seville was a center of learning. Falling to the Moors in 712, it was (c.1023–1091) the seat of an independent emirate under the Abbadids and a flourishing commercial and cultural center under the Almoravids and the Almohads. In 1248, Ferdinand III of Castile conquered it after a long siege and made it his residence. It is said that 300,000 Moors, the majority of its population, left Seville at that time. With the discovery of the New World, Seville entered its greatest period of prosperity. It was the chief port of trade with the new colonies. In addition to its economic prosperity, it was the seat of a flourishing school of painting to which Velázquez, Murillo (both natives), and Pacheco belonged. In 1718, Seville was superseded as a port by Cádiz. Its economic recovery from the subsequent decline is only recent. In 1810 the French sacked the city. Seville was held by the Nationalists throughout the civil war (1936–39). The 1992 World Exposition was held at Seville.