Seville,(Spanish:Sevilla), Spain, the capital of Seville province and the fourth largest city in Spain. It is in Andalusia on the east bank of the Guadalquivir River, about 245 miles (395 km) southwest of Madrid. Seville is the commercial, cultural, and transportation center of southwestern Spain. Although 50 miles (80 km) inland, it is also a seaport, connected with the Atlantic Ocean by the river and a canal. Industries produce a wide variety of goods, including wines and liqueurs, ceramics, chemicals, textiles, olive oil, cork, and tobacco and fish products.
Seville is one of Spain's most historic and colorful cities. The older sections are a maze of narrow, winding streets lined by whitewashed houses with wrought-iron grillwork. Numerous plazas, parks, gardens, and fountains add to the city's charm.
Prominent buildings in Seville include several that are largely Moorish in architectural style. The Alcazar, begun in the late 12th century by the Moors as a castle and fortress, was substantially rebuilt and enlarged during the reign of Pedro the Cruel (1350–69). The Giralda, which has come to be the symbol of Seville, was built in the 12th century as a minaret and is now the bell tower of the cathedral. The cathedral itself, built 1402–1519 on the site of a mosque, is of Gothic design, and is one of the largest Gothic buildings in the world. Paintings by El Greco, Goya, and other artists decorate its interior. Here, too, is what is thought by some to be the tomb of Christopher Columbus.
Among Seville's museums are the Archives of the Indies, containing exhibits and documents relating to Spain's colonies in America, and the Museum of Fine Arts, with works by Spanish masters. Seville's opera house, the Maestranza Theater, was built during 1986–91. The University of Seville dates from 1502.
Seville was an Iberian settlement called Hispalis before Julius Caesar conquered it in 45 B.C. After the decline of Rome, Seville was captured by Vandals about 420 A.D., by Visigoths in the sixth century, and by the Moors in 712. The city flourished as a Moorish commercial and cultural center until 1248, when it fell to Ferdinand III of Castile. With the subsequent departure of some 300,000 Muslims, the city declined.
Seville's greatest period followed the discovery of America, when the city was granted a virtual monopoly on trade with the New World. Closely associated with Seville, a center of art and culture, were several prominent painters, including Murillo, Velázquez, and Zurbáran. The golden age ended after the port of Cádiz was opened in 1717 to trade with America, and the city entered a long period of decline.
Seville was occupied by Napoleon's forces during the Peninsular War (1808–14). In the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) the city was captured early by the forces of Franco and served briefly as his headquarters. Seville was the site of the 1992 Universal Exposition, which commemorated the 500th anniversary of Columbus' first voyage to the Americas.