Plaza de España, Seville

In Seville last week I had my camera stolen on the third day of my four-day break, a major blow as this time it was my zoom camera so the images I took were different to those I’d taken on my last visit – and, I like to think – better.

However, after an evening of crying into my beer, or my Rioja, I just had to get on with things and determine to be more careful in future.  The loss was my own fault.  I had the camera on a table at the Casa de Las Teresas bar, probably the most famous bar in Seville, moved to look at some pencil drawings on the wall in front of me which left the opening for an opportunist to walk by and whip the camera away.  My travelling companion had been sitting there too but was looking out through the door at something happening in the street.  It was a daring move to grab the camera from under our eyes like that.

Santa-Cruz-Area,-Seville, La Cafe Bar Teresas
Santa Cruz area, Seville. La Casa de Teresas. Taken 3 years ago.

We still had four glorious days in Seville which is a genuinely over-the-top city of bulls and flamenco, dark-eyed beauties and white-washed alleys, a blazing sun beating down from a dark blue sky and never-ending late nights.  It’s the place to go if you’ve fallen for the romance of Carmen, Hemingway’s Toreros, and the lure of castanets and cante hondo, and if you want to drink manzanilla in a white-washed bodega late at night, or ride through the dappled park in a horse and carriage.  Seville is Spain’s party town and I love it.  I was seduced by its magic a long time ago and have never recovered.

We spent all our time wandering the old streets of Santa Cruz, but we also managed to spend one afternoon at the Plaza de España, one of Seville’s show-offy bits, built for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929 (Expo 29) and located in Maria Louisa Park.  The following photographs were all taken 3-5 years ago.

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This massive building is the city’s most impressive edifice after the cathedral, for its sheer grandeur.  Some people hate it, thinking it overblown and ornate, a blot on the older Seville, but I love it.  What is certain is that no one should miss it on a trip to Andalucia’s capital, along with the many pavilions in and around the Parque Maria Luisa.

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The Plaza de España is a lavish Renaissance/neo-Moorish semi-circular brick building with a tower at either end (now major landmarks as they are tall enough to be visible throughout the city), and it is said to be the size of five football pitches.  In front of the building, following the curve of its façade, runs a 515-metre canal and visitors can hire boats in which to gently row around the moat, a real pleasure when the heat is intense.

18 10_0603 Elegantly curving over the moat are four bridges representing the four ancient kingdoms of Spain: Castille, Aragon, Navarre and Leon.  18 10_0604

Their supports are made of brightly painted ceramic tiles, which add an extra zing to the architecture, and in the centre of it all is the Plaza itself.

On top of the ground level portico there is a first-floor balustrade with balconies stretching along its length. Along the wall by the canal are 48 alcoves with tiled benches, one for each province of Spain, and each with a relevant tableau and map designed on colourful azulejos (painted ceramic tiles).

Malaga Pavilion
Malaga Pavilion

Coloured ceramics feature heavily around Plaza de España –  the provincial alcoves, the walls, ornate bridges and balustrades being all covered in painted tiles.

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The architect of this amazing edifice which swings around the plaza in a large semi-circle was Anibal Gonzalez who designed the Plaza to wow the Expo’s visitors from around Spain and Latin America, and in order to showcase Seville’s talents in industry and crafts.  Only this semi-circular pavilion remains from the Expo ’29, the others are now used as museums: the Pabellon de Bellas Artes is now the Archaeological Museum, and the Pabellon Mudejar now houses the Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares.

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For me, the best way to approach the Plaza de España is by horse and carriage.  Touristy, I know, but a ride through Maria Louisa Park to this lavish display of Spanishness, is very Sevillana and highly recommended. Pick a carriage up near the Cathedral, or the bull-ring, and fix your price.  It’s not too expensive (a 75 minute trip around the main sights of the city will only cost you €40 so you could do that and get off at the Plaza España: if there are two or three of you that makes it very reasonable).

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And then it will be time for tapas again, a manzanilla or a fino.  Losing my camera didn’t make me stop going to La Casa de las Teresas because the tapas were wonderful, slivers of acorn-fed jamón serrano draped over morsels of bread, little coquinas (clams), skewers of garlicky prawns and pungent tomatoes in a garlicky sauce, washed down with Manzanillo, the delicate wine from  Sanlucar de Barrameda.  I’ll be back.

N.B.  The Plaza de España is situated inside Maria Luisa Park, near the Teatro Lope de Vega and the University.  It is also near the Torre del Oro, embarkation point for trips on the River Guadalquivir (also highly recommended) and the Hop on Hop Off bus.

14 Comments

  1. I had a similar experience with an impudent thief while sitting outside a coffeeshop at Barcelona. Fortunately there were no valuables in the stolen bag so the thief would not be very happy.

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  2. My friend had his camera stolen in a similar way in Italy last year. The tea-leaf was, strangely, a considerate one … he took the memory card out, and left it on the table! I always say … cameras are replaceable; the pictures in it aren’t!

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    1. Yes, I agree, the pictures will never be replaced. It’s the first time I’d tried taking a video while we did the touristy carriage ride (with my new camera), so it’s doubly frustrating.

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    1. Thanks for reading, and I’m sure you’ll go back. Anyway, it’s nice to have dreams of a future trip to look forward to.

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  3. Reality strikes! Me and Mick have quite differing views on the city but we’ve never stayed there overnight, and that alters your whole perception of a place, doesn’t it? We have also seen it in dreary rain when admittance to the Real Alcazar was refused on safety grounds! You struck lucky with the weather because it has changed this week and we’re dodging cloud bursts. I really don’t mind for myself- it’s much needed- but my youngster is here with his family, looking for idling at the beach. No easy answers when you’re restricted to school hols. They’re still happy to be here. 🙂 🙂 Cordoba next, Mari?

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    1. Just bought a new one and have come to terms with the loss of my pictures. One has to. I didn’t claim on the insurance as the price of the camera had come down, as they do, it was 3 years old and I knew I’d have a fight with the insurance company. Besides, I was on a 4-day trip only so couldn’t really afford the time to find a Police station, do the paperwork (in Spain? you’re kidding), and waste so much time. Depleted the next holiday fund a bit, but happy now I’ve got a good pocket-sized camera again.

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      1. I bought the little Panasonic compact Lumix DCM TZ90. It has a 70 cm zoom lens which is extraordinary for a compact camera and I bought this on the advice of my professional photographer friend who had advised me to buy the original (stolen) DCMTZ70 as it was as good as the lens on his DSLR and is one he now uses when travelling, rather than carrying another heavy lens. The 90 is the third upgrade on the original. I have the Sony Compact System 6000 as well but it is too big to carry in a pocket for a day out but a great camera. I can honestly recommend the DCMTZ series for the zoom lens alone. You will be amazed at the result.

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  4. Thanks Mari. Sorry about the camera though. I use a Sony RX100 111 which has a full size sensor but poor zoom – but do not need a zoom when you can “blow up” a tiny part to full size even for projection. Expensive though!

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