Study Abroad in Seville

When you picture Spain, chances are you're imagining Seville, the capital of Andalusia. By day, sunshine warms colorful tiles, the scent of orange blossoms fills the air, and fountains splash. At night, people spill out of tapas bars into lively streets, and the pounding rhythm of flamenco echoes from just around the corner. Though the third largest city in Spain, Seville feels much smaller, with charms aplenty. The downside? You still have to go to class.

Study Abroad in Seville - Plaza de España

photo by Santi M.


The University of Seville dates back to 1505. The main building is an old tobacco factory--the setting of Bizet's opera "Carmen," in fact. The university is one of the largest in Spain, with a full range of language instruction for international students.

Pablo de Olavide University has only been around since 1997, but students benefit from its modern campus and amenities just 1 kilometer from Seville. Latin American studies are big here. A variety of electives in English or Spanish complement the language courses.

A Night on the Town

La Alameda is the boho neighborhood of choice, Alfalfa has action all week long, and Santa Catalina has low-key spots to grab a beer. But the most famous scene is Calle Betis, stretching between two bridges across the river from the University of Seville. Spots to try include Cafe de la Prensa, Big Ben, Boss and Maya Soul.

Study Abroad in Seville - Catedral de Sevilla

photo by Airon Zone

Eat (Drink) This

Seville has some of the best tapas in Spain, including seafood options such as salmonetes fritos (small fried fish). But in this town, turn your attention to the drink accompanying those nibbles: jerez. The city of Jerez, which English speakers corrupted into "sherry," is located in the province of Sevilla. And sherry--wine fortified with brandy--is one of the great pleasures of Spain. Eat your fill of tapas and become an expert in the fino, manzanilla, amontillado and oloroso varieties of this fine beverage.

Sites to See

The Alcázar has Moorish roots, but most of the place is actually Mudejar--meaning built in Moorish style but after the Christian kings were back in power. A chapel for Santa Maria de los Buenos Aires, a favorite of sailors, includes a portrait of Christopher Columbus and possibly the earliest representation of American Indians painted in Europe. The gardens are more recent but still lovely in the Seville sun.

Near the Alcázar is the picturesque Barrio de Santa Cruz, the city's old Jewish quarter. Wander the neighborhood's narrow, cobbled streets and admire the whitewashed buildings dotted with balconies of flowers.

Seville's cathedral is certainly grand, smaller only than St. Peter's in Rome and St. Paul's in London. The Giralda, a minaret converted into a bell tower, reminds that there was once a mosque where this Gothic church now stands. Christopher Columbus has his tomb here--and DNA studies indicate it's likely his bones are inside.

Study Abroad in Seville - Flamenco Dancing

photo by Antonion de la Mano

Seville is flamenco central, and it's worth the effort to dodge tourist traps and find an authentic experience. Try the Casa de la Memoria de Al-Andalus, a cultural museum that offers evening performances in its interior courtyard. Carboneria in the Barrio Santa Cruz is another great spot. You'll sit at communal tables around a small stage, and there is no extra charge for its impromptu flamenco shows.

Weekend Trip

For stunning views, visit the lovely Pueblos Blancos, or white towns of Andalusia, perched high on cliffs. Arcos de la Frontera and Ronda are two of the finest. Near Ronda, view Cuevo de la Pileta's remarkable Paleolithic cave paintings. The randomly scheduled tours, run by the same family that discovered the caves in 1905, are appealingly low tech. Bring a flashlight.

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