Santa Cruz District, Sevilla
After the Christian conquest of Seville this city became one of the greatest Jewish communities in Spain. Santa Cruz was one of their quarters, and, though their four synagogues were transformed in churches, their signs are still present.
Discreetly located in one of the narrow streets of Santa Cruz, this two storey building is one of the most important of Baroque in Seville. It has a peculiar courtyard with high level arcades. Built in the 17th century and originally a residence to priests, it houses today Velasquez centre.
Contrasting with the narrow streets of the quarter, this small square is one of its the larger spaces. In the centre of the square, the cross of Cerrajeria, a remarkable metalwork from the 17th century marks the place of the former church of Santa Cruz
The landmark of Santa Cruz is the beauty of the inner pateos, decorated with flower pots. In winter it looses something, because the "pateos" are closed and with less flowers.
Time to enhance the iron works in doors and windows.
Not to be missed, the narrow streets, the interior "pateos", flowers everywhere, cast iron windows, I mean... Spain at its best.
It deserves two different visits: in the afternoon, protected from the sun, to feel colours and shapes, and by night, to "live" the city, and watch "flamenco" in one of the many "tablaos".
Well... this was my vision in summer.
I've been there again in winter, and... less flowers, closed "pateos", but always pretty, and always... spanish..
his is the first barrio (area or neighbourhood) tourists head for, and with good reason. It is the most picturesque and delightful part of the city, with narrow winding cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, where you can sit outside a bar, enjoy some tapas and watch the world go by, or wander through centuries-old gardens and relax on beautiful tiled benches. The area is bordered by Calles Mateas Gago, Santa Maria La Blanca/San José, the Jardines de Murillo and the Alcázar . It was formerly the Jewish quarter; some of the churches were originally synagogues. The covered passageway heading off the Patio de Banderas (part of the Alcázar) called the Judería is worth visiting; enter the Patio from here and you'll get an unforgettable view of the cathedral.
Wandering round the small squares lined with orange trees (especially Plazas Doña Elvira and Santa Cruz), getting lost in the maze of improbably narrow alleys, where the ancient houses lean so far towards each other that they almost seem to touch, and admiring the leafy patios of private mansions through their iron gates, will be one of the best experiences of your visit to Seville. It is incredibly picturesque and full of history and stories, with many old palaces, churches and hidden passageways. There are, predictably, many tourist shops selling typical tourist fare such as inferior quality azulejos (tiles), flamenco dress-style aprons and T-shirts with naff slogans.
Walking the narrow and nicely kept streets of the Santa Cruz District I began to think I was in a small Spanish town. As a city planner I of course questioned who would have laid out such a street plan that does not appear to have any rhyme or reason. The noise level dropped considerably from the area around the Cathedral and Alcazar and there were relatively few tourists on an overcast Monday afternoon.
This area of course used to be the Juderia or Jewish Quarter of Seville. Today the area is awash with narrow streets, restaurants, small stores, and well landscaped plazas that seem to blot out the sun. Walking there is a sheer pleasure with streets so narrow that they are often called "kissing lanes." One of the greatest pleasures of walking the Santa Cruz district is to find how individual businesses and homeowners have adorned their places with beautiful pots, plants and wrought iron railing.
This is the most picturesque part of the city. Here you'll find narrow cobbled streets, whitewashed houses, gardens and squares. Although a tourist destination, there are places here to sit & relax and watch the world go by.
Built in 1915 for the insurance company la Adriática, its namesake building is a beautiful example of neo-mudéjar architecture in Seville. Its location on a triangular piece of land where avenida de la Constitución meets calle Fernández y González gave the building its unusually thin shape and strategic location. The tip of the triangle is crowned with a dome over Islamic style windows and azulejos tiles. Today, el Edificio de la Adriática serves as an office building, while the ground floor houses la Confitería Filella, a popular dessert shop. The building was designed by one of Seville's most renowned neo-mudéjar architects, José Espiau y Muñoz, whose notable works include the legendary Hotel Alfonso XIII.
The first thing we did on Monday, our only full day in Sevilla, was to walk to the old downtown location of La Giralda bell-tower, Cathedral and the Real Alcázar. It was another beautiful day as we reached the area, with Sevilla's trademark La Giralda tower standing proud in the sunshine.
With construction first completed in 1196 after twelve years of hard work, only three Moorish minarets of that era remain in the world today - with the other two both located in Morocco at Marrakesh and Rabat. Originally, the two functions of this minaret were to call the believers to prayer at the mosque that stood at its feet and to serve as a watch-tower for the city. One of the amazing things about La Giralda is that access to it's highest reaches is not by stairs but instead by means of a series of 35 ramps inclined gently enough to allow two guards on horseback to pass each other (I guess walking up would be tough while loaded down with weaponry)! As far as the exterior goes, each of the four sides of the tower has a different pattern of intricate brick work to marvel at.
Much to the dismay of the Moors, the tower along with all of Sevilla fell to Christian forces in 1248, only 52 years after this work of art had been completed. The four original copper spheres that marked the top of the tower were later destroyed by an earthquake in 1356, so these were replaced by a Christian cross in 1400 when work started on construction of today's Cathedral to replace the original Moorish mosque.
The present highly decorated Renaissance-style upper floors of the tower as well as the smaller 'steeple' were added between 1560-1568 as it became the bell-tower for the Cathedral. The Giralda now takes its name from the weather vane (or 'giraldillo') that was also added to the top of the tower at that time.
We had a lot to see, so decided not to make the climb up the tower, despite the fact that it is reported to provide great views of both the Cathedral and the rest of Sevilla as you make your way to the top.
Actually, this pretty little plaza was located across the street from where I parked our rental car in a public garage and it stood between me and our hostel a few minutes walk away. I had never heard of it before, but was impressed by it's mini-botanical gardens decorating the long rectangular centre of Plaza Cristo de Burgos.
This part of Seville has been settled for hundreds of years but the modern history of the plaza began when a large cleared space was made in 1818 and later modified to its present shape in 1940 before the addition of the botanical trees and shrubs in 1983. The largest trees include those of the Fig, Palm, Banana and Orange species with decorative shrubs linking them. The small statue is a bronze bust of Nino Ricardo (1909-1972), who lived nearby and became Spain's most respected flamenco guitarist. The plaza also contains a few children's amusement contraptions and various benches where citizens and visitors to Sevilla can just sit down to relax for a while. We did some relaxing in the plaza too because, at the far end of the plaza closest to our hostel, we found Taberna Coloniales - one of Sevilla's most famous tapas bars (see my 'Restaurant' tips for details)!!
One of numerous convents in Seville, el Convento Madre de Dios de la Piedad moved to its present location in 1495. Soon after the Inquisition, Queen Isabel la Católica donated a synagogue in the recently vacated la Judería, the Jewish quarter, to the Dominican Congregation for the construction of their convent. The synagogue was subsequently destroyed and the existing convent was erected. Although the original 16th century structures, including the church, have survived, much was rebuilt and expanded over the years. Seen in the attached photograph is a relatively newer section of the convent, where the main entrance lies today. Although simple in architecture, this structure is an interesting example of Moorish-revival style, with a touch of Gothic.
The slender red brick Edificio Pedro Roldán is an elegant example of barroco sevillano architecture. Its blue and white dome and façade mixing red brick with blue azulejos give it a distinctive look. The building was designed in 1927 by the celebrated local architect José Espiau y Muñoz, whose famous works include Hotel Alfonso XIII and Casa de la Adriática. Casa Pedro Roldán, as it is also known, was named after a famous 17th century sculptor.
The sumptuous Casa de la Condesa Lebrija was built in the 15th century for the Countess Lebrija. It is a typical Seville mansion with a central courtyard, arched porticos and mudéjar architecture. It is now a museum with a collection of Roman mosaics and art from the nearby Roman ruins of Itálica, and medieval artefacts from Medina Azahara and elsewhere.
The Plaza de la Alianza is right near the Real Alcazar in the centre of Santa Cruz.
On one of the walls is the Christ Misericordie of Santa Cruz altarpiece. Apartments and café’s line the perimeter of the square along with orange trees and draping bougainvilleas and there is a tranquil little octagonal fountain in the square.