There is so many things to know about Seville. Here are 8 random facts you should know before you visit Seville:
Watch out for the only (very small) scam I know in the city of Seville. Don’t accept the little branches, the Gitano women give you and you will be just fine. Also, be aware that religion is a very big part of the life in Seville. So, be aware and adapt! When you visit Seville, you should also know the dance “Sevillana”. There are two very important weeks in Seville; The “Semana Santa” and “Feria de Abril”. And, finally don’t forget, there are two big teams in Seville; Sevilla FC and Real Betis. The city is divided into these two teams.
#1 Don’t accept “Romero” from the Gitano women.
In front of the cathedral, around Plaza de Espana and some of the more touristy places, you will often find “Gitano” ladies giving out “Romero”. Gitanos is the Spanish word for gypsies and you’ll notice them right away. They look different than the locals or tourists. These Gitanos give away little branches of plants, which smell very good. Initially the ladies will tell you it is free, but when you accept they will ask you for money. And believe me, they won’t take no for an answer. They will also try to read your palm, if you speak Spanish. This is also not out of the goodness of their heart, so maybe stay away.
To be clear about Seville, this is the only (little) scam I have ever seen. Don’t be too worried about it. Just say stay away and say no thank you if they approach, and they will leave you alone. Everybody in Seville knows about this practice, that is why the ladies barely try with locals. Now you know it too, so there is no need to worry.
#2 Religion is still a very big part of Seville.
Every Sunday almost all shops are closed in Seville (especially smaller ones). Why? Because a lot of the life in Seville is still based around the catholic church. And in catholicism, Sunday is restday!
On Sunday I would guess that 85% of all people in Seville go to church. Throughout a typical Sunday, you will see people dressed up as if they were going to a fancy dinner party. They are not, they do this to go to church. People in Seville are still very religious. After church most of them meet up with friends, to get some tapas and drinks and just talk about the past week. You’ll see big groups of people, dressed up very beautifully, around Seville.
If you would like to go to a church, a mass or if you just walk around in Seville, respect and adapt to the local culture. Dress up (especially on Sunday), behave like a local and enjoy all the wonderful vibes Seville has to offer. Don’t stick out and be the typical tourist, with a tanktop and flip-flops. Nobody likes this. People of Seville are no different. You will not be welcomed into the community.
#3 Sevillana is a typical dance of Seville, not Flamenco.
In every blog, website or youtube channel, you will find people linking Seville to Flamenco. I’ll be honest, I did too in “”. I also think you should go watch a Flamenco show when you visit Seville, as it is a typical Spanish dance. Frankly it is also just amazing to watch. Nonetheless there is a much more traditional dance in Seville, which is called “Sevillana”.
Whenever you go out to parties of special events you will see locals dancing Sevillana. Much more than Flamenco! Sevillana is danced in pairs and is very special and elegant. The best way to recognize a Sevillana as a non-dancer, is looking at the woman. She always does a typical movement, which Spanish people refer to as the “pick-an-apple-from-the-tree-bite-it-and-throw-it-away” movement. The girl will raise her arm as if she would pick an apple from a tree. Then she will pass her hand in front of her mouth (to bite the apple) and finally she will throw the apple away next to her body. If you see this move, you are definitely watching a Sevillana and not a Flamenco.
If you want to read more about Sevillanas, read about it in our upcoming blogposts.
#4 A lot of people in Seville love bullfighting.
Yes, a lot of people in Seville go watch bullfighting and enjoy it. This is because if you know anything about it, you would know that these fights are much more than just the killing of an animal. To people from seville it is an art form, a dance and a very very old tradition. Before you knock it you should know a couple of things. Underneath I’ll go over the basics. If you wan’t to know more about it, read about it in our blog.
Firstly, people who are true fans have the biggest respect for the animals. They know that the bulls in the arena are the very best bulls out of thousands of animals. They know they were raised like kings. To put the whole idea into perspective, image the circumstances in which most animals are raised and then slaughtered. Not great right? Well, the bulls who enter the arena in Seville have the perfect life, right up until the end. They are given all the best nutrition, they live free on huge plots of land and they get treated like true royalty. I am not against nor for bull fighting, but if I would be able to live like that and suffer 2 minutes at the end of my life… where do I sign?
Secondly, as people have some much respect for the animals, they want the animal to suffer as little as possible. When something goes wrong, the bullfighters get boo-ed and is almost disgraced. So no, people who like the event don’t enjoy the suffering of the animal. It is the exact opposite.
Finally, of course not anybody can go in and try to fight a bull. The tradition in Seville is not even close to that. The bullfighters that eventually make it to the “Real Maestranza de Sevilla” have trained for decades. They started out as little kids (without any animals) to learn the techniques. They went to special schools, and they beat thousands of other aspiring bullfighters. This all before ever hurting any animals. The bullring of Seville is the biggest in all of Europe. Therefore the “Toreros” (aka bullfighters) are the very best in the world and they are all world class athletes. They don’t see it as a game at all. They see it as an honor.
If you wan’t a taste of what it is like, go to the guided tour in the bullring. Read more about it in “Top 9 Things to Do and Must See Attractions“. If you want to know more about bullfighting, I will be going more in dept in upcoming blogposts.
#5/#6 Semana Santa and La Feria de Abril are the most important weeks of the whole year.
In general there are two very very very important weeks in Seville. These two are both in April and are the “Semana Santa” and the “Feria de Abril”. Unless you go especially for these two big events, try to avoid going during these two weeks. Seville is not the same as it is during other periods. A lot of places are closed (earlier) or have very different hours, because everybody in Seville takes part of these two events. In 2020 the Semana Santa is from 05/04 until 11/04 and the Feria is from 24/04 until 03/05 (for other years, be sure to check the dates).
The “Semana Santa”, aka de holy week, is the last week of the catholic 40 days of fasting. It is the most important week of the catholic year. It starts on “Palm Sunday” and ends on “Silent Saturday”. During this week Seville is flooded with people from all over Spain and visiting the city is a lot more complicated. Driving a car is impossible and in some places even the trams/metros are not driving. The city is THAT packed! If of course you are religious and/or would like to get to know the lifestyle in Seville thoroughly, then definitely go during this week. Just be prepared. This is not a festive week, but a week for self reflection and getting closer to God (for people in Seville). Also dress for the occasion. People in Seville are mourning so dress up, but soberly. If you would like to get to know more about the Semana Santa, read about it in our following blogpost.
Usually two weeks after the Semana Santa, the “Feria de Abril” starts. This is the biggest party in Seville of the whole year. An enormous amount of people from inside and outside of Seville go every year. This week-long party is amazing, but you should probably go with locals. That is the only way to really enjoy it. Knowing the right people is almost a must. If you would go, again, go prepared. Most of the ladies will dress up in traditional dresses and all of the men will dress up in suite en tie. If you do not do this, you will not be able to enter into the right places. It is not touristy at all. So if you go, don’t stick out like a sore thumb and dress up. Again, if you would like to get to know more about de “Feria de Abril”, read about it in our following blogpost.
#7 Sevilla FC and Real Betis
There are two big football/soccer clubs in Seville. The first and most famous one is Sevilla FC and the second is called Real Betis. This is good to know as there is a really big rivalry between both clubs. The city is really divided into two. But don’t worry if you happen to support the wrong teams, no one will treat you differently. The rivalry is on the pitch.
Nonetheless the supporters of both teams love their team very much. When these two teams go head to head, you will notice that the city is almost completely empty before the match. When I went to watch the match between both sides, I had to stop some random strangers and ask them to drop us off at the stadium. Normally there are plenty of taxis in Seville, but this time I could not find a single one. Luckily the strangers were nice enough to drop us off. We didn’t miss a second of the match.
Even if you don’t like football all that much, I definitely recommend going to see a football match. The atmosphere is amazing. Your best bet is to look for tickets online first. Depending on the match, the tickets are sold out and you can’t get them at the entrance anymore. A word of caution though: don’t ever buy your tickets from strangers on the streets. Only buy them from the official website of Real Betis/Sevilla FC or from the ticket counters located at the outside of the stadium. That way you will never be ripped off.
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