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River Guadalquivir

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From the Arabic Wadi al-kabir, meaning ‘great river’, the Guadalquivir cuts a 408-mile course through the heart of Andalusia from the Sierra de Cazorla to the Gulf of Cadiz and Atlantic Ocean. Since the time of the Phoenicians, maritime cultures have recognised the importance of this ocean to river link. Sieges, defences and conquests were fought on its waters, and exploits and crossings have been forged from its shores with ancient Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and Moors all leaving their legacy. Today the Guadalquivir is only navigable from Seville to the sea but following this waterway of ancient sailors promises a unique glimpse into Andalusia’s distinctive cultural heritage and the region’s rich history.

Things to know

  • Lying 70 miles from the sea, Seville is Spain’s only inland port 
  • In Roman times the Guadalquivir River was navigable to Cordoba
  • The first voyage around the world left from Seville in 1519
  • The river provides water for the fertile valleys of Andalucia
  • The coastal marshes along the Guadalquivir estuary called ‘Las Marismas’ are rich in wildlife and birdlife.
  • Guadalquivir mean “the great river” in Arabic   
  • Rising in the mountains of Jaѐn, it flows 408 miles to the Alantic Ocean on the gulf of Cadiz   
  • The surrounding mountains are cover in pine trees but mostly olive groves 

Key Ports of Call

Picture of - Cadiz
Cadiz

Raided by Sir Francis Drake and withstanding a siege by Napoleon’s army, Cadiz has a rich and illustrious history. It attained great splendour and prospered on Spanish colonial sea trade and the gold tiled, domed Cathedral is a stunning legacy of that era. The picturesque old quarter of Cadiz is Moorish in appearance with narrow, cobblestone streets opening onto small squares. Unsurprisingly, with so many links to the sea, Cadiz is famous for its seafood.
Picture of - Cordoba
Cordoba

Home to prestigious monuments including the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos and mighty Mosque-Cathedral, Córdoba is one of Andalusia’s most fascinating cities. It is home to a famous Roman bridge, which for almost 20 centuries was the only bridge within the city crossing the River Guadalquivir. The heart of Córdoba is its old Jewish quarter where the maze of winding streets, whitewashed houses and flowery balconies are very typical of Andalusia.
Picture of - Seville
Seville

Like the exotic rhythms of flamenco for which the city is famous, Seville never fails to charm and seduce. The city is the capital of Spain’s Andalusia region and its historic centre is an extraordinary blend of Mudéjar, Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Its barrios, or neighbourhoods, each have their own character. One not to be missed is the former gypsy quarter of Triana, which is packed with traditional tapas bars.