Traveling during Covid times
After a global pandemic and several months of lockdown, we are gradually approaching the reopening of borders. When we plan our next trips, we must take security measures into account, and it is common sense to avoid large crowds. In Seville, we have a variety of outdoor monuments and parks full of art and history. However, today we want to propose a walk through our own streets with hidden culture and artistic heritage.
From our hotel Gravina51, through Zaragoza street, we can comfortably walk until we find the Cathedral of Seville, the Cathedral of Santa María de la Sede. We, Sevillians, often forget to look up and admire the impressive architecture and facades. For this reason, we invite you to stroll through its surroundings, which, together with the Real Alcázar and the Archivo de Indias, constitute a magnificent example of the great stages of the urban history of the city: Muslim, Christian and the great metropolis of the 16th century as Puerto de Indias. The excellent state of conservation of the historical buildings led UNESCO to consider it a World Heritage Site in 1987. The immense cathedral with its five naves is the largest Gothic building in Europe. On the other hand, the Giralda is an outstanding example of Almohad architecture, being previously the minaret of the Great Mosque that constitutes the foundations of the Christian cathedral.
We invite you to go around its buildings, observe the porticoes or doorways, and peek at the Patio de Los Naranjos doors - the only intact area of the old mosque since the Giralda was crowned with the legendary golden statue of the Giraldillo, symbol of the city. It is likely that during your walk, you may have noticed some red graffiti on its walls, especially on the facade facing Alemanes Street. It is not graffiti, but its red lines attract the attention of Sevillians and tourists who wonder how the oldest wall of the cathedral was painted -almost overnight. At least it's not street art as we know it today. The symbols, mixtures of numbers and letters, came to light during cleaning and restoration work on the exteriors just a few years ago. These are graffiti dating back to 1857. They are the inscribed names of those students who graduated from the University of Seville as a doctor, wanting to immortalize their success on the facades. You will also find both in the cathedral and in the Archive of the Indies, the following symbol, translated as Vitor, derived from the Lower Roman Empire and which becomes a cry of happiness ... Long live!
The relief that comes with finishing our studies is a feeling we can continue to identify ourselves in the 21st century, so we forgive the spots and exhibit them as one more sample of all the cultures that have inhabited the city of Seville throughout the history.
Continuing through the set of historic buildings, in the center of the triangle that makes up the Cathedral, Archivo de Indias and the Real Alcázar de Sevilla is the Plaza del Triunfo. These three buildings can be visited by buying a ticket on their website in advance, they are a must-see that all our customers enjoy. In this blog post, we intend to show you more subtle details: hidden from the eyes of tourists and, therefore, from the crowds in times of coronavirus.
The Plaza del Triunfo is an incredible open space that plays the axis between these three giants of Sevillian architecture. The name of the square is due to an ornate style temple that can be found near the rear façade of the Archivo de Indias, generally surrounded by horse-drawn carriages. After the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, which spread throughout southern Spain, this sculpture was erected the following year to thank Our Lady of Patrocinio for the fact that, although the cathedral was shaking like jelly, the Giralda tower stood firm. Its patrimony would not suffer any damage.
Embellishing the sculpture to the Immaculate Conception, you will find the angelic faces of the most famous people in the city, such as the painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo or the sculptor Martínez Montañés. The creations of both artists can be found in the Museum of Fine Arts, just a couple of minutes from the Gravina51 hotel and which we will talk about in future occasions.
If you stand at the statue looking at the temple, you will have the Real Alcázar on your left. Instead of going to the Lion Gate (easily identifiable by the tiles with a lion decorating it and the very long queues that usually form to access the palace), enter the Patio de las Banderas through the wall. It is a public square in the Santa Cruz neighborhood and the most secret passage to the most intimate zone: the Jewish quarter of Seville.
Then, cross the orange trees to the left corner. A tiny alley with low ceilings will lead you to the maze of magical streets and exceptionally well-preserved thanks to the mysticism and the seclusion of the community during the different occupations of the city. When you cross it, keep in mind that in Seville's center, the sidewalks and cobblestones bury centuries and centuries of buildings under your feet. In the 1970s, architectural remains of a Christian basilica from the 4th century were found in the subsoil. These ruins were later used by Romans and Visigoths and today are exhibited inside the Alcázar.
In this area of the Santa Cruz neighborhood, you will find legendary places such as Callejón del Agua and Calle Susona, romantic and dark enclaves, according to Sevillian stories. The Callejón del Agua gives us a beautiful walk - dare to look at the different traditional decorated patios that face the alley - with hanging bougainvilleas and a refreshing aroma of orange blossom from the orange trees hidden within the walls. The Callejón del Agua is full of commemorative plaques, like those commemorating the writer of The Tales of the Alhambra, Washington Irving, on the front of his own house. Different legends of love and death surround the streets of the Jewish quarter that, for a long time, the Sephardic community was secluded from the rest of the world. One of the saddest legends occurs on Susona Street, which leads into the Callejón del Agua, so we invite you to look for the commemorative tile that recalls the story and decipher it yourself.
We recommend that you always carry a map during your walks through Sant Cruz, as it is a labyrinthic district, and one tends to get lost in its winding alleys and narrow streets. You can ask for one at the reception of our hotel Gravina51; likewise, ask us about different walking tours that will help you discover the Sevillian Jewish quarter. We will be happy to help you.
At the end of the Callejón del Agua are the Murillo Gardens, named after the famous Sevillian painter whom we have already mentioned, whose house is located in the park's surroundings. It is an incredible green space, made up of small gazebos with ceramic and brick fountains that are impressive compared to their well-kept vegetation. Centuries ago, the garden of the Royal Alcázar palace was converted into this public space where children and the elderly enjoy its tranquility, and young people gather in small groups under the shelter of the large trees and the ceramic benches hidden among them. It is a living garden: magnolias, orange trees, ficus, Damas de Noche ... The typically Sevillian fragrance overflow its soil roads that can lead you to the statue of Don Juan Tenorio, the gigantic monument to Christopher Columbus or the romantic gazebo by the painter García Ramos, perfect to rest and take a break on our walk.
So far, we have discovered a Seville built in layers, where the juxtaposition of cultures and communities can be appreciated by the attentive tourist. In the next part of our walk, we will get further away from the crowds, sinking into the San Bartolomé neighborhood's depths. We will be discovering houses, palaces, churches, and a colorful square full of life and modern cafes called -attention spoiler- la Alfalfa, the old forum from the Roman imperial era. For the moment, we are resting under the cool of the Murillo Gardens. If your appetite is whetting, we recommend you walk to the extreme left of the park, seen from the Callejón del Agua entrance to the Plaza de Los Refinadores and the Puerta de la Carne. There you will find several Seville wineries, as well as tapas bars and the old Puerta de la Carne Fredurería, where both the typical fried fish and delicious churros with chocolate are served for breakfast and snacks.
We will be in the comments, answering any question or suggestion, and, of course, at the Gravina51 hotel. We work to provide you with a unique experience in Seville, bringing you closer to our culture and discovering the secrets of the Andalusian capital. You can also write to our social media, where we publish new ideas every week to enjoy your visit to Seville, also adapted to the latest security measures.
We hope to see you with us very soon!