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Warmed by the Andalusian sun and watered by the Guadalquivir, Seville has been brimming with life since the Age of Discovery. Christopher Columbus’s transatlantic travel plans began and ended with stops in Seville, and modern travelers are continuing that tradition. New World gold paid for many of the breathtaking landmarks that dot the comfortably compact city center, from the incredible Seville Cathedral (biggest Gothic cathedral in the world) to the General Archives of the Indies (storehouse of economic records from Spanish conquests).
Seville is a city for meditative walks and siestas shaded by orange trees, for twirling dancers and the flying fingers of guitarists. During the summer, the heat hits hard, with temperatures soaring to an average high of 95° Fahrenheit during July and August. Locals seek refuge inside tiny tapas joints hidden in the Santa Cruz neighborhood’s maze of streets (home of the city’s Jewish population until the 1400s), washing down crispy calamari with cold cañas of beer. For a sheltered nap, they’ll head to the Eden-like Parque de María Luisa, an urban paradise of fountains and palm trees, accompanied by the squawks of parrots. Once the sun goes down, people take to the streets for an evening stroll, and the action heats up in the bars and flamenco halls of La Alameda de Hércules.