Heliopolis: the City of the Sun in Seville

It’s not surprising that in a city like Seville, with only 51 days of annual rain and an average of 2,917 hours of sunshine, there should be a neighbourhood named Heliopolis, “city of the sun”. But what is perhaps even more surprising is that it wasn´t until the mid-20th century that the name was even considered –  and was not even the first choice!

At the beginning of the 20th century, plans began for urbanizing the outlying areas along the course of the Guadaira River towards the south end of the city. During this time, the plans laid down for civil works on the upcoming Iberoamerican Exposition of 1929 helped shape what would eventually become the Helipolis quarter with a stadium on one side and a gardened residencial area on the other, connected to the city by a marvellous avenue La Palmera, flanked by pavilions and exhibition buildings. The original stadium, remodeled and adapted, later became the home of the Real Betis Balompie football team, one of the historic and current symbols of the area, without which this district cannot be understood. And the houses, called Hotels or Small Hotels of the Gualdalquivir, originally served to accommodate visitors during the celebration of the event, and later became private homes.

If the stadium and the little hotels are now the quarter’s most easily recognizable icons, the street names are no less so: Amazons, Paraguay, Andes, etc., including ancient colonies like Ifni, reminding us of the origins of this unique area.

In the second half of the 20th century the construction of the teaching centers marked the district’s new physiogamy. With the inauguration of schools like the Fathers of the Claretians and the Sisters of the Christian Doctrine, as well as the development of similar community services, there came about a true push towards the settling and growth of the population.  And, of course, the creation of the University Campus Reina Mercedes, part of the University of Seville, sdefined the district as one of the principal urban centers of the city. There are many foreign students, including students of Spanish , who share classrooms in various departments with native students year after year.

It’s easy to get to Heliopolis from the city center as the 34 busline links the two on a continual basis. Another option are the magnificent bike lanes, a great way to take in the sights and stop wherever we like.

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