It was into the beautiful barrio of Santa Cruz that Seville’s Jewish population was confined when Ferdinand III took the city from the Moors in 1248. Brutal as the Catholic monarch could be, you can’t help but feel as you wander around the pretty, impossibly narrow streets of Seville’s most famous quarter that there could have been worse places to be banished. Here are the 10 things you don’t want to miss when visiting Santa Cruz.
Along with Granada’s old Arabic quarter of Albaicín, Santa Cruz is the best barrio in Andalusia for aimless wandering. Its unfeasibly narrow streets make those of Triana, Seville’s former gypsy quarter, look like Parisian boulevards and most are impassable by car – meaning meanderers have this charming neighborhood pretty much to themselves. Discovering its secret squares and stumbling upon its beautiful old palaces and churches is one of the best ways to pass a long morning or afternoon in the Andalusian capital. And don’t worry if you get lost, because it’s a rite of passage for the first-time visitor to Seville to become happily disoriented in Santa Cruz.
Seville is one of the warmest cities in Europe, so visiting in spring or summer will necessitate frequent stops for refreshment. And if you’re nosing around Santa Cruz you couldn’t be in a better spot for tapas: the old Jewish quarter is home to a bewildering array of bars and restaurants, ranging from some of the city’s smartest eateries to the most old-school joints. Both kinds of the establishment are dotted all over the neighborhood, but a good place to start hunting for your preferred venue is by walking up Calle Mateos Gago, away from the cathedral. This popular street is lined with tapas bars and restaurants and leads into the heart of Santa Cruz: just take any right or left you fancy.
Sitting at the heart of Santa Cruz is the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See – the largest cathedral and third largest church in the world. Construction of this sprawling Gothic complex – which takes up the equivalent of several city blocks and houses 80 chapels – began in 1401 and continued for over a hundred years. The original construction committee of the cathedral, it is said, wanted to create a church so “beautiful and so magnificent that those who see it will think we are mad.” In 1507 the cathedral was finally completed, quite spectacularly succeeding in its original aim, as well as showing the rest of Europe just how powerful and wealthy Seville had become.
For a dose of history-laden luxury in the center of Seville, head to Aire Ancient Baths. The Seville branch of this super-sleek Arabic/Roman bath franchise – which opened in Chicago last year and will do so in London and Paris in 2018 – was established 15 years ago in a refurbished mansion built in the 16th century above Roman remains. No expense was spared in the stunning renovation. The mansion’s original brickwork has only been enhanced by the addition of sleek glass and wood fittings, and the beautifully-illuminated bathing spaces feature pools and baths at a range of different temperatures. For those who want a little pampering while exploring Santa Cruz, this place is unbeatable.
A stone’s throw from Seville’s display of Catholic wealth and power is a very different type of monument, one that reminds you of the grandeur of pre-Christian Seville. The Alcázar palace is considered one of the finest examples of Moorish architecture in Spain, although various sections in fact have differing styles and date from the Mudéjar and Renaissance periods as well as from the city’s Moorish epoch, which lasted from the 8th to the 13th centuries. Though it might lack the architectural pedigree of its more famous counterpart in Granada, the delicate interiors of Seville’s Moorish palace are every bit as fascinating, with delicate patterned archways and traquil internal courtyards in abundance.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1618-82) was one of the most distinguished painters to come out of the Andalusian capital. He achieved fame and artistic recognition mainly from his religious paintings, but Murillo also left behind a fascinating body of work focusing on the everyday street life of the city in which he was born and died. Some of his paintings can be seen in the tiny but interesting Casa Murillo on the edge of Santa Cruz, the house in which he lived and worked towards the end of his life. As well as a small permanent collection of Murillo’s works, the museum also holds temporary exhibitions.
Casa de Pilatos
This gorgeous 15th/16th century mansion is one of Santa Cruz’s hidden treasures and its stunning gardens match anything you’ll see in the Alcázar. Begun by the weathly “conquistador” and Mayor of Andalucia, Pedro Enriquez de Quiñones in the late 1400s, Casa de Pilatos is an intriguing mix of Mudéjar, Gothic and Renaissance styles, built around a central courtyard in the traditional Andalusian style. So beautiful is the palace that it’s starred in two films – 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia and 2010’s Knight and Day. It takes its name – “Pilate’s House” – from Quiñones’ son Fadrique, who traveled to Jerusalem in 1519 and returned overflowing with enthusiasm for the Holy Land.
Flamenco is part of Seville’s cultural DNA and Santa Cruz provides a suitably traditional setting in which to enjoy some. There is an abundance of bars and theaters offering nightly flamenco performances in and around the old Jewish quarter, but their quality and authenticity varies wildly. The Museo del Baile Flamenco (Museum of Flamenco Dance), though, is one of the best in the city and well worth a visit. Tucked away in a beautiful 18th century townhouse on one of the barrio’s characteristically narrow streets, the museum traces the history of flamenco music and culture through the centuries as well as staging daily shows that feature some of Seville’s and Andalusia’s leading flamenco artists.
This narrow, shaded alleway runs alongside the walls of the Alcázar to the beautiful Alfaro and Santa Cruz plazas (on the latter of which Murillo was born in 1618). So-called because of a mini-aquaduct that used to run along the top of the Moorish palace’s wall, this mysterious, winding path provides one of the most romantic strolls in Seville. Plaza Alfaro, incidentally, is likely to be busy with tourists pointing their cameras upwards and snapping away at the ornate old buildings, because one of them (and it’ll be obvious which) is said to have inspired the balcony scene in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Seville’s position on the river Guadalquivir, which flows through Andalusia and out to the Atlantic, meant that it was superbly placed to cash in on Columbus’s discovery of the New World in 1492. And cash in it did, with riches from the new Spanish colonies ushering in the city’s Golden Age of the 15th and 16th centuries. Documenting this period of Spanish history is Seville’s grand Archive of the Indies, which is part of the UNESCO-protected cluster of buildings that also includes the cathedral and Alcázar. This vast 16th century building sits right next door to the cathedral and houses some 80 million documents relating to the Spanish Empire of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. If you think that sounds like a little too much reading for one afternoon, fear not: as well as the beautiful old books, the key sights here are a 17th century cannon, maps charting the entire Spanish Empire and several paintings by Goya.
The origin of Charles V Palace (Palacio de Carlos V) was the need for a place that would include all the comforts of the time for the Emperor and his family, like the palaces, which were their summer residence, did not cover their needs.
The Emperor ordered the construction of the palace next to the Alhambra in order to enjoy its wonders. The architect in charge of the works was Pedro Machuca, an experienced architect in love with the Renaissance. The works started in 1527 and were totally finished in 1957. The construction went through several stages, the lack of financing resources, revolts that stopped the works, etc. The building was sometimes neglected to such an extent that the ceilings collapsed.
The palace is square and its main façade is 63 meters wide and 17 meters high. Its circular patio is unique and it is the most important building of Renaissance style in Spain. Only the southern and western façades are completely decorated. The northern and southern sides are not because they are connected to the palaces of the Alhambra.
Built by Yusuf I in 1349, the Madrasah of Granada was the first university of Al-Andalus
Located in the heart of Granada, in Oficios Street, is the only Nasrid building that remains in the heart of Granada. Until the 15th-century in the area was located the main Mosque of Granada and the main bazaar or Alcaicería.
There were relevant poets, philosophers, politicians and doctors among its students and teachers. For instance, Ibn al-Khatib or Ibn Zamrak, whose poems decorate the walls and fountains of the Alhambra.
The name Madrasah (Madraza in Spanish) comes from the Arabic word “Medersa“, meaning Koranic school or college.
The Catholic Monarch, Ferdinand II, gave the building to the Cabildo´s house (town hall) in 1500, after the content of its library was burnt by Cisneros in Plaza Bib-Rambla. It was, sadly, one of the biggest public bonfires across Europe. Since then it has been completely transformed to reach its current baroque appearance in 1722, demolishing the remains of the former Arab construction.
Until 1841 the Town Hall was located here – also known as the Old Town Hall – and finally, the state recovered it in 1943. Nowadays is part of the University of Granada and became the headquarters of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
From its Nasrid splendorous past, we can see only the Oratory and its beautiful mihrab. Admire its amazing octagonal dome. However, it underwent extensive restoration work. The rests of its white marble facade are at the Archaeological Museum of Granada (temporarily closed).
Spain is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations and is home to incredible architecture, history and beaches, as well as some distinctly unique souvenirs. From handmade fans and flamenco guitars to Esencia de Ibiza, we guide you through 15 things you can only buy in Spain.
A bota, or wineskin, is a traditional Spanish drinking vessel, usually used for wine, but it can hold any liquid. The method of drinking from a bota usually involves angling the wineskin so that the liquid can shoot out into the drinker’s mouth, without the mouth having to touch the bota. This way, people can easily share wine without all putting their mouths on the same part of the wineskin.
Follow in the footsteps of Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and Leonard Cohen, as well as flamenco legends including Paco de Lucía, by purchasing a guitar from Felipe Conde – the Conde family are master guitar makers who have been handcrafting their instruments for over 100 years. They’re not cheap – starting at €2,500 (£2,186) and reaching over €11,000 (£9,620) – but for a lifetime investment and a piece of rock history, they’re well worth the price tag.
You might be able to pick up versions of this popular summer shoe abroad, but the genuine article can only be purchased in Spain. Casa Hernanz in Madrid has been making espadrilles, a rope-soled shoe, since 1840 and is one of the longest-running espadrille manufacturers in Spain. Originally the shoe of the poor and working-class, the espadrille came to worldwide attention when Lauren Bacall sported a pair in the 1948 film Key Largo. They have been a summer fashion staple ever since.
Spain is home to the dramatic and passionate music and dance style of flamenco, making it the perfect place to buy a flamenco dress, shawl or shoes. If you want something a little smaller, pick up some castanets, wooden concave shells that flamenco dancers clack together as a percussion instrument.
Bottled Ibiza air
If you want to take a part of Spain’s party island home with you after your holiday, why not buy a can of Aire de Ibiza, ‘Ibiza Air’, a bottled sample of the island’s most abundant commodity? A couple of friends on the island began selling the product from an ice-cream parlor in summer 2016, and the product has been a hit with tourists ever since.
Firewater from northern Spain
Orujo (nicknamed ‘firewater’ by locals) is a spirit with over 50% alcohol content from northern Spain. It is particularly popular in Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia, where some local families have been making the drink for generations.
Buy an authentic Spanish paella pan (and some saffron, the key ingredient of paella) and you can perfect the Spanish classic in your own home. There is a booming trade in paella pans in Valencia, home of paella, but you should be able to buy them throughout the country at markets and cookware shops.
This nougat-like sweet is sold around Spain in the run up to Christmas time and is a popular gift and souvenir. It is made from almonds, honey, sugar and egg whites and is served in a rectangular slab. Casa Mira, founded in 1842 in Madrid, was the capital’s first turrón shop and today is still extremely popular with locals.
Gazpacho at McDonald’s
The Spanish classic cold tomato soup appears on many restaurant menus, but you might be surprised to see it also features on the menu at the popular fast food chain. So make sure to sample some gazpacho alongside your Big Mac and you can even enjoy a beer too – Spanish McDonald’s sells cerveza, unlike chains in many other countries.
They might seem like a bit of a stereotype, but a handmade Spanish fan, or abanico, is a beautiful gift to take home and a useful cooling down method during Spain’s stifling summers. It is a common sight in the country’s big cities to see women of all ages carrying a fan as it’s one of the cheapest, quickest and easiest ways to cool down.
A Catalan Christmas tradition like no other, the caganer, or ‘Christmas pooper’, is a longstanding staple of every nativity scene in the northeastern region of Catalonia. Originally the figure, who has his trousers down and is defecating, is a little boy dressed in traditional clothes. Today, however, there is a booming industry in making poopers who look like famous people. You can pick up everyone from Donald Trump and the Pope to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lady Gaga. The figure is meant to symbolize good fortune for the year ahead.
Original post was written on https://theculturetrip.com/authors/jessica-jones/
Seville’s Casa de Pilatos was built in the 16th century and is an outstanding example of Seville’s civil palace architecture. It is a splendid blend of the Renaissance, Mudejar and Baroque styles. The humanist character of the building makes it a quintessential Renaissance mansion, with a fascinating interior and some of the finest classical and marble sculptures.
This palace dates from the union of the Enríquez and Ribera families in the last quarter of the 15th century. During the 16th century, it underwent profound changes as a result of the close relationship of leading family members with Italy, serving as a conduit for the new forms and tastes of the Renaissance to enter Seville.
Remodeling in the mid-19th century to reflect romantic tastes added to its picturesque appearance, a harmonious synthesis of the Gothic-Mudejar, the Renaissance and Romanticism.