Our group kicked off our first full day in Seville with a walking tour of the city center on Saturday morning. With a city rooted deep in history, the tour offered a glimpse into how their culture has transformed over the centuries. Seville was originally founded by the Romans, later taken by the Muslims, and eventually converted into a Christian Kingdom. In comparison to our own country where our history dates back to a relatively recent 1776, the thousands of years of history laid out at our feet in Seville was an overwhelming experience.
It would be impossible to tour Seville without mentioning Christopher Columbus. Located on a river close to the sea, Seville was a strategic location for exports and imports. It was from Seville that Christopher Columbus departed with his fleet of ships in search of a western route to India. As we all know, instead Columbus discovered the America’s, and this is something the city of Seville is very proud of.
One of the main highlights on the city tour was the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Sea. This gothic cathedral is the largest in Spain, and is the third largest church in the world. Dating back to 1434, the church boasts elaborate gothic architecture and also houses the remains and tomb of Christopher Columbus. It is also unique in the fact that it is still an active church offering a number of masses to Sevillans each day. Some of the class members even had the opportunity to attend mass on Saturday evening, which was an incredible experience for them.
After the tour, our class had some free time to explore the sights and sounds of Seville. Immersing ourselves into long European lunches and strolling the many side streets in the oldest parts of the city center, it was one of the best ways to truly experience the Spanish culture. Some toured the bull fighting arena, and a few of the class members were even able to score sold-out tickets to the local fútbol (soccer) match and witness one of Europe’s favorite past times.