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Sevilla area guide: hauntingly beautiful

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In Sevilla, you really are in the heart of 'Real Spain', so it is advisable to do things their way. In much the same way that London's red buses and telephone booths, Big Ben, punks, the Queen and extortionate prices are seen as a snapshot of the UK, Sevilla is home to much of Spain's traditional customs and global imagery – the lazy siesta, the passionate people, the salsa-ing señoritas, the dusty tapas bars, the brooding, sultry gazes of the local Gitanos (gypsies) as they look on intently as an impromptu flamenco dance and song routine flares up that's as much for the tourists' benefit as traffic jams or middle-of-the-day closing hours: this is just how it is.

Which is not to say that Sevilla cares not for the tourists who love it so – walking tours, horse-drawn carriage rides, open-top buses, beautiful hotels and well-priced restaurants are plentiful throughout the city – but Sevilla exhibits a refreshing lack of tourist-centric emphasis. Visitors are respected and welcomed, but Sevilla would be exactly the same without them. It is this authenticity that is so beguilling.

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