Seville has kept much of its Moorish aspect. The Gothic cathedral (1401–1519), one of the world's largest, occupies the site of a former mosque, of which two parts remain—the Court of Oranges and the beautiful Giralda tower. The interior of the cathedral is extraordinarily rich and contains invaluable works of art and the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Adjoining the cathedral is the alcazar, built (14th cent.) in Moorish style by Moorish artisans on the order of Peter I (Peter the Cruel) and rivaling the Alhambra in its exquisite decorations and splendid halls. Among the many other notable buildings of Seville are the city hall (16th cent.); the former lonja, or exchange, which contains the archives of Spanish America; the university buildings, which were formerly a large tobacco factory (scene of part of the action of Mérimée's and Bizet's Carmen ); and numerous churches and private palaces. Seville is the capital of bullfighting in Spain and a center of the Andalusian Romani (Gypsies), famed for their songs and dances.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.