Last month, the prestigious travel guide publisher Lonely Planet named Seville as the Best City in the world to visit next year, as part of its annual Best in Travel list. A great honour for the city, this will bring even larger numbers of visitors to the city in 2018. With new hotels and restaurants opening all the time, Seville is ready for its next wave of tapas and flamenco-lovers. The area around the Cathedral and Alcazar already gets very crowded when groups arrive to visit our UNESCO World Heritage site, so this will only become more intense - arrive early in the day to avoid the queues! Growth in visitors is obviously desirable for any city which is a major tourist destination, but we're hoping the city council will keep a check on incongruous chain restaurants (Taco Bell) which do not remotely fit in to their historic surroundings (the Archive of the Indies, also UNESCO-recognised).
Murillo Year - 2018 - will have exhibitions and routes about the painter.
The year of being Best in Travel coincides happily with (and was probably helped by) a major year-long cultural event - Año Murillo (Year of Murillo), which celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Sevillano painter. Best known for his religious portraits - saints, the Virgin, Christ, bishops etc - Murillo broke the mould in that, as well as saints and the Virgin, he also depicted common people - street urchins and young girls, giving us a snapshot of life in 17th-century Seville. Año Murillo officially started last month, in November, since the painter was born in 1617. The youngest of 14 children, he was commissioned to produce numerous paintings for convents and churches around Seville, such as San Francisco (no longer exists; was located in Plaza Nueva) and the Convento de los Capuchinos at Puerta de Cordoba (also no longer existing, but gives its name to the Ronda de Capuchinos, part of the ring-road around the city´s historic centre). His work was held in great affection, partly for its air of informality - The Holy Family with a Little Bird depicts Mary, Joseph and Jesus as a surprisingly normal family: the mother gazies adoringly at her baby son as he plays with a dog, in an unusually earthly, even domestic, setting. Any family can relate to the feeling of humanity in this painting. Inside the cathedral, you can see 15 of Murillo's paintings, including his San Leandro and San Isidoro in the Sacristy, while in the Chapter House his Inmaculada, the Immaculate Virgin, has pride of place on the circular wall. Another location where his work can be seen is the Hospital de la Caridad, in the Arenal. You can visit the painter's house in barrio Santa Cruz (calle Teresas), from where various routes will start, taking in buildings where his works are displayed. One of the most exciting aspects of these exhibitions is that works which have been away from Seville for centuries are being brought "home" (temporarily) from museums all over the world such as the Prado, Louvre and National Gallery in London.
Santas Justa and Rufina (with the Giralda) by Esteban Murillo.
Exhibitions are taking place in Espacio Santa Clara and the Museo Bellas Artes, among other locations. At the Bellas Artes you can see the series of paintings he did for the Capuchinos, reunited for the first time ever, including works brought from Hamburg, Vienna and New York. One of the most famous of these is Santas Justa y Rufina, which shows the Christian martyrs, who were potters from Triana, in their iconic pose with model of the Giralda. You can also go to concerts, plays, and try period gastronomy, to get a taste of 17th century Seville ç the city as it was in Murillo's time. For more information on exhibitions and activities in the Year of Murillo, see here