For the 29th Annual EAIE Conference in Seville, you will be visiting Andalusia, a region that stretches across the south of Spain. Bathed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, Andalusia is home to immense diversity in its history, natural world and activities. We shared our top 8 must-dos in Seville on the blog last month, now take the opportunity to learn more about the rich culture, both ancient and modern, of this popular destination.
Andalusia once welcomed cultures from the East, such as the Phoenicians, who settled along the coastline. An important part of the Roman civilisation, Emperor Trajan and the philosopher Seneca came from this land. Andalusia, or Al-Andalus, has always been a region of coexistence between three faiths: Muslim, Jewish and Christian. It was from the shores of Andalusia that ships set sail destined to a then unknown land: America.
Our rich history has given us a legacy of exceptional architectural heritage. Road and rail links from Seville allow participants to organise trips to any number of sights within just a few hours’ journey time. Andalusia is home to important historical jewels such as the Alhambra in Granada – the most visited monument in Spain – as well as the historic quarters of cities such as Cadiz, where Spain passed its first ever Constitution; Huelva, where the ships commanded by Christopher Columbus set sail to America; World Heritage Cities such as Cordoba, home to a masterpiece of Caliphal art, the Mosque-Cathedral; and the towns of Ubeda and Baeza in the province of Jaen, with important palaces and churches from the 16th and 17th centuries.
As for the city of Seville, a stroll around its historic quarter is an absolute must. Take in the Moorish Giralda, the bell tower of the second largest Cathedral in Europe after St. Peter’s in Rome, and a World Heritage Site. See the royal residence of the Alcazar fortress and its magnificent gardens. Explore the narrow streets of the Jewish Quarter, the Archive of the Indies, which contained information about commerce with that part of the world, and which continues today to house all the documentation and maps from that period. Stroll down the Plaza de España, the emblematic building of the 1929 World Exhibition, and the adjacent María Luisa Park, gifted to the city by the princess after whom it is named. Visit Seville University, located on the site of the former Tabaco Factory; and the Monastery of La Cartuja.
Some of our historical monuments have drawn international film directors to Andalusia, turning our region into a film set. Hundreds of films have been made here, from the classic ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, filmed in Almeria, and ‘Doctor Zivago’ in Granada, to the modern ‘Knight and Day’ shot in Seville. Star Wars filmed a scene at Plaza de España in Seville. The series ‘Game of Thrones’, filmed in the town of Osuna, in Almeria, at the Roman ruins in Italica and in Seville’s Alcazar fortress. ‘Die another Day’ from the James Bond saga, shot in Cadiz, and ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ was more recently filmed in Malaga.
This region is home to numerous museums and interpretation centres, but we shall mention just two essential ones to visit: Seville’s Museum of Fine Art, the second largest art gallery in Spain, and the Picasso Museum in Malaga. If you are looking for a different experience, try the Granada Science Park, an interactive museum dedicated to the dissemination of science.
Tickle the senses
Andalusia pervades the soul through the eyes, but also the ears: music, song, and dance become Flamenco, an art form recognised as the intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO since 2010. You can enjoy its more popular versions or its purest forms at festivals, numerous ‘tablao’ flamenco restaurants and bars, as well as in Seville’s Museum of Flamenco Art.
And speaking of the senses, gastronomy is an essential part of anyone’s enjoyment of this region. The tapas approach to eating out, which allows you to sample various dishes in a single meal, is a hallmark of Andalusia that has become international. The quality of food served at any establishment is usually excellent. Typical dishes in Seville include cured ham, good cheese, salmorejo and gazpacho (chilled tomato soups), stews such as braised pork cheeks, and fried fish. For anyone who is able to take a mini-break, why not head for Huelva, which this year holds the title of Spanish Capital of Gastronomy for its produce-based cuisine, a ‘must’ for any traveller.
Andalusia, however, is much more than its cities. This region is also home to great natural wealth, and 18% of its land area is protected to conserve its incredible beauty spots and jewels such as the Doñana National Park, declared a biosphere reserve. It also offers exceptional beaches and waters, stretching from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, good weather almost all year round, and a wide range of activities from water sports to skiing at the southernmost ski resort in Europe, Sierra Nevada.
In sum, it is this wealth of cultural, historical, and natural heritage, in addition to first-class tourist infrastructures that, in 2016, helped 28.2 million travellers take wonderful memories home with them. Yet it’s not only tourists who benefit from Andalusia, where knowledge is promoted as an essential tool for enhancing the competitiveness of our businesses and generate quality employment.
Andalusia is heavily invested in innovation and cutting-edge technology and is a leading hub in the aeronautical industry, in the development of renewable energy, in the production of top quality agrarian produce with early products that reach Europe from Huelva and Almeria. It is also an region for pioneering research in different areas, reflected in the businesses operating out of its 10 technology parks, and in its research and development network comprising 11 universities and various technology centres. Our region has many faces, but they all have one this in common: talent, diversity, and creativity.
To start planning your EAIE Seville 2017 experience, register now! The complete conference programme is now online. Secure your spot by 24 August and be sure to book your hotel as soon as possible. Enjoy a discount on your registration by becoming an EAIE member. Register today! For special deals for conference participants, download our list of promotions from the Discover Seville webpage.
Antonio Ramirez de Arellano is the Regional Minister for Economy and Science for the Government of Andalusia.