Sevilla and surrounding area
Some tourists, dazzled by the Tower of Gold, the Giralda and the many marvels of Seville, unknowingly leave before having crossed the city’s limits. However, the silent and anonymous province hides true treasures that are needlessly overlooked: one of the oldest towns in Europe, the ruins of an ancient Roman settlement, beautiful mountain landscapes, marshlands, villages that live and breathe flamenco and the locations of famous series and films. That said, if you go in summer, get ready for the heat, as it is also home to one of the hottest towns in Spain.
Just 28 kilometres separate Seville from Carmona, which was one of the great fortified cities of the kingdom of Tartessos and has been inhabited for over 5,000 years, making it one of the oldest towns in Europe. The Roman emperor Julius Caesar once said that Carmo—as it was called then—was ‘the strongest city in the whole province’. Don’t miss the Alcázar de la Puerta de Sevilla fortress or the Puerta de Córdoba gateway, both dating from Roman times and excellently conserved. We also recommend visiting the Alcázar del Rey Don Pedro (now a luxury hotel) and Plaza de Abastos. Another essential place to visit in the province is the archaeological site of Itálica in the nearby village of Santiponce. The ancient Roman city emerged in 206 B.C. as a settlement for legionnaires who had fought in the Second Punic War and thrived under the emperor Hadrian, who was born there.
Further along are the cities of Écija and Osuna, both some 80 kilometres to the east of Seville. The former has a long bullfighting tradition and stands out for its numerous churches, forming a skyline of 11 bell towers with a total of 90 bells, which led the writer Camilo José Cela to say that in this village ‘you can always hear bells’. Famous Baroque palaces, such as that of Benamejí, now the headquarters of the Municipal Historical Museum, or that of Peñaflor, with its beautiful balcony decorated with outdoor frescoes, are also popular places to visit. Incidentally, Écija is known as ‘the frying pan of Andalusia’ due to its high temperatures. On its part, Osuna has become very popular over recent years due to its hundred-year-old bullring being used as a filming location for the famous series Game of Thrones. In this municipality you can also find the Collegiate Church of Osuna, which has an important collection of Baroque art works, and Calle de San Pedro, which UNESCO chose years ago as the second most beautiful street in Europe.
Speaking of ‘famous’ places, the municipality of Isla Mayor, 45 kilometres to the south of Seville, is well known for having been the main location of Marshland (La isla mínima, in Spanish), the famous crime thriller by the Spanish film director Alberto Rodríguez. The film is named after one of the hamlets that make up the village, situated in the Lower Guadalquivir Marshes, a perfect landscape for fans of fishing and bird watching. Those who prefer nature to cities can also visit the Sierra Norte de Sevilla, a mountain range that boasts attractions such as Cerro del Hierro, where centuries of mining have formed a breathtaking landscape, the beautiful Huéznar Waterfalls and the charming village of Cazalla de la Sierra.
Finally, we mustn’t forget to mention the cities of Lebrija and Utrera with their stunning castles of Arabic origin. Both are situated in the south of the province of Seville and, together with Jerez (province of Cádiz), form the so-called ‘flamenco triangle’, the cradle of great flamenco singers such as Manuel Morao, Fernanda and Bernarda de Utrera, and Juan Peña ‘el Lebrijano’.
Carmona, just under half an hour by car from Seville, is packed with monuments and is one of the most photogenic towns in the province.
Nestled in a crossroads of cultures, seas and continents, the Doñana region is also home to one of Europe’s largest flora and fauna nature reserves.
Stately Osuna reveals its beautiful side in its palaces, temples and streets. A day trip from Seville that transports you to another age.