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Spanish in Seville

Learn Spanish in Seville

Nothing is more quintessentially Spanish than Sevilla – or at least so much is true of the general conception, of the cliché, that has been built around the city and around its culture for the past two centuries. Sevilla, home to the most malleable and prolific character in Spanish literature, Don Juan Tenorio, and therefore, home, too, to the purest and most typical expression of Spanish nature, is a city that lives in two different dimensions: one, a very palpable reality, and another, a highly pervasive imaginary.

Alhambra Granada

In terms of its reality, Sevilla is the second largest settlement in Andalucía, a proper city of close to three quarters of a million people with a bustling entertainment scene and the stereotypically lax attitude of the good life. Dominated by the imposing presence of the Guadalquivir river, Sevilla remains the most important inland port in the country and the fourth largest urban concentration of people, falling just behind Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. No wonder so many people look to study Spanish in Seville!.

Part of the reason why Sevilla has emerged as a location naturally attracting outsiders is because its history stretches so far back. It was already around during the time when legends ruled. Thus, purportedly founded by Hercules himself, Sevilla is said to have been known as Hispalis during Roan times: a town from which little has been preserved – outside a few remains of the wall around the city, scant portions of the aqueduct and a handful of pillars of what once was a temple in the calle de los mármoles.one to inspire all sorts of myths.

Nevertheless, the number of ruins around what would have been Hispalis suggests the settlement must have been important, and the remarkable state of preservation of what once was the city of Itálica, just a few miles away from Hispalis, gives us a good idea of what Seville might have looked like under Roman control. Furthermore, the ruins of Carmona, a bit farther out, some 25 miles to the northeast of the city, provides us with ample opportunity to study both religious and civil architecture in the region during Roman times.

Famously fortified by instructions of Julius Caesar, Sevilla, like the rest of Hispania was ultimately raided by hordes of barbaric tribes, of which the Visigoths would eventually prevail, establishing their hegemony in the region from the V to the VIII century, when a combination of the intense internal strife that took place among the Visigothic ruling class, the contempt felt by the local population against their Germanic rulers, and the swift raiding technique developed over the years by the Moorish army meant that within a very short period of time the entire peninsula fell in the hands of the Umayyad dynasty.

Golden Tower

During the five centuries of Muslim rule, the city of Isbilia, as it came to be known, flourished as an administrative and trading centre. Many of the iconic buildings you could see today if you visit Seville were built under Muslim leadership, such as the emblematic Torre del Oro (Golden Tower) on the left bank of the Guadalquivir, which was a crucial part of the fortress that surrounded the settlement, or the Alcazar of the city, which was turned into the royal palace once the reconquista had succeeded, but which was initially conceived for the purpose of a combination of a lush residence and an impenetrable fortress.

Nevertheless, the heyday of Sevilla's history would come during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs, when the city became the main gateway to the New World, and, consequently, the main recipient of the Treasure Fleet. It was during this period when the monumental cathedral was conceived, at the time the largest temple in the Christian world. It was at this time, also, that the reputation of Seville as a centre of wealth and culture spread, attracting everyone, from scholars (the university opened at the beginning of the XVI century) to adventurers willing to enrol in the Casa de Contratación in order to set sail towards the Americas.

If the heyday of the real Seville was in the XVI and XVII century, however, the emergence of the imaginary Seville as a central trope in the compositions (musical, literary, artistic) of the western world had to wait until the XIX century. Yes, the first instance of Don Juan Tenorio stems from Tirso's play, The Trickster of Seville, from 1669, but 150 years later hardly anyone remembered Tirso, at all. Then came Hartzenbusch, to resuscitate the name and incorporate the play to a repertoire that already included operas by Mozart and Rossini, and that soon would be complemented by Carmen, by Zorrilla's Don Juan, and so on and so forth.

Today, the imaginary Seville lives side by side with the real, cosmopolitan, imposing Seville, combining to create an unforgettable experience. So, if you have any intentions to learn Spanish in Spain you should seriously consider spending some time in Seville. It will without a doubt be worth it!