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The Phoenicians arrived in this area first, establishing a number of trade colonies by the river. They taught the locals how to work with iron and created a new way of processing gold. The Romans came next and founded the town of Hispalis a few hundred years BC. Hispalis grew into a beautiful and prosperous city, but it never managed to emerge from the shadow of nearby Córdoba, until the Visigoths transformed Hispalis into a provincial seat and a centre of learning. In the 11th century, the Moors captured the city and re-named it Ishbiliya, but they too chose to make the grander city of Córdoba their capital. They even named it the Córdoba Caliphate. After almost 400 years of civil war battles between Christians and Arabs, the Moors withdrew from their beloved Al-Andalus. Soon after, the inhabitants of Seville finally struck gold. When Christopher Columbus discovered a new continent in 1492, the exclusive trade rights were given not to Córdoba, but to Seville. The city quickly became the wealthiest and most cosmopolitan city in Europe, and retained that position for several hundred years. This eclectic mix of influences over the centuries have shaped the city we see today, and Seville's fascinating history is visible at every turn.
Today’s Seville is a lively place, bustling with culture, music, exquisite food and an unstoppable personality. Some of the city's main sights include the Moorish castle of Alcazar, the former upper-class neighbourhood of Santa Cruz, the promenades along the Guadalquivir River, the rougher Macarena neighbourhood with its Baroque churches, and the oldest bar in Spain, El Rinconcillo. The city’s gigantic Parque de Maria Luisa is worth visiting, as are the bohemian chic bars in the Alameda de Hércules district.
Life in Seville seems to revolve around meals, meaning that there is a huge selection of restaurants serving both local and international specialities. The best eateries are traditionally Andalusian, in both ambience and cuisine. The locals eat late and most restaurants only start filling up after 22:00.
The locals in Seville are particular about their coffee. For example, they only have café con leche (coffee with milk) for breakfast, often with a croissant. At mid-day they tend to have either an espresso, a café solo or a cortado, espressos with a drop or two of milk. If you know where to go you can enjoy some really flavourful coffee, so if you're in need of a pick-me-up, check out the places listed below.
Seville is synonymous with nightlife, especially during the summer when people go out so late that the expression "early morning life" might be more appropriate. The party areas around Plaza Salvador and Plaza de la Alfalfa don’t even get going until three or four in the morning. The hippest area is Alameda de Hércules, a garden square where you can find many bohemian, chic bars and music clubs.
Seville's diverse neighbourhoods offer some interesting shopping. North of La Geralda clock tower lies Seville’s largest shopping area, centred around Calle Sierpes and Calle Tetuan, where many shoe shops and souvenir boutiques can be found. Get high quality shawls, handmade fans, Sevilla hats or even a unique Flamenco dress designed for you. The working-class neighbourhood of Triana, on the opposite side of the river, is well-known for its ceramics market and tile havens such as Cerámica Santa Ana. In the Alfalfa district you will find plenty of antique stores and trendy galleries, but also a handful of noteworthy fashion shops.
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