Seville is the first city we stayed in in Spain and I fell in love with the city the very first night. First of all Europe is on a slower more deliberate pace than most of America and Spain maybe a little more so. Dinner usually isn't eaten until around 10 PM. And the city just hums along until well after that, with outdoors cafes and people out and about all the time. Seville like all of the cities we visited and probably all of the cities of Andalusia, is a blend of the Christian Spanish influence and the Arabic Moorish influence. It's noticeable in the varied architecture of the buildings but even more so in the layout of the streets. Although it is not uncommon to find small winding streets throughout most of Europe, the Arabic influence tool this to new levels.
We stayed in an area of Seville called the "Barrio de Santa Cruiz" its a very old part of the city and is definitely of the Arabic influence. The streets are incredibly narrow and twist and turn so frequency and haphazardly that its is almost impossible not to get lost, and we did every night. You can tell when you leave the barrio because the street widden and start to take on a much more normal pattern. There is so much to see just in this part of the city, much of the Moorish influence and architecture is still here and often side-by-side with a Christian counter-part. In this part of the city it's easy to see and almost feel the ebb and flow that went on between the Moors and the Christians. The city is actually older than even that struggle, and goes back to the Phoenicians and Carthaginians and after that the Romans. Muslim influence came when the Moors defeated the Romans and lasted till the thirteenth century.
Unfortunately most of the artifacts from the Moors was destroyed by the crusaders as soon as they recaptured the city, but there is still enough just in the area where we stayed to get a good feeling for what it must have been like to live in Seville then. The Christians built what is the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world, right on top of the previous Muslim Mosque, the only thing left was one wall and the Minaret (now called the Giralda). The minaret is one of three, the oldest surviving of the Almohade Muslims. It was sort of the conquering peoples way of saying, "We're in charge now and our civilazation is bigger and better.
I found a link to a virtual tour of the city so I'll put that here, you can take the tour and then come back here and see my pictures, many are of the same things you see on the tour. Seville is a beautiful city and one that I would visit again with no hesitation. The city and it people are warm, friendly, vibrant and seem to embrace all who visit there. Clicking on the "Tour" will open a new page with the tour, close the page when you're done and you'll be back here.