Holy Week, the Seville Fair and the endless bullfighting afternoons notwithstanding, Seville has also kept up with the times and become a modern, cosmopolitan city. A stroll through its streets reveals a blend of tradition and the latest trends coexisting amid the flavour and colourfulness for which Seville is famed.
Whether or not you have been to Seville before, you ought to know that the Cathedral, Real Alcázar, Torre del Oro and Triana Quarter are must-see landmarks. But, today, Seville is far more than that. It is a major hub of artistic creation and a place where you can delight in the sight of avant-garde buildings and Indie venues – welcome to modern Seville!
Where To Look
To find the more groundbreaking Seville, your epicentre is the Plaza de la Encarnación, in the heart of the central Alfalfa quarter. There you will come across the Metropol Parasol, better known as Las Setas, designed by the Berlin architect, Jürgen Mayer. The structure raised heckles even before it was built on account of such a groundbreaking design being earmarked for the old, historic centre. The complex is made up of a market, restaurants, a viewpoint and the amazing Antiquarium, an archaeological museum where visitors can view the Roman subsoil of the city.
Continuing along our route, we come to fashion stores and bars with alternative decoration in the Alameda de Hércules and surrounding area. On the Calle Feria, for instance, enthusiasts of second-hand garments – designer apparel or otherwise – should make a point of visiting such stores as Ropero Sevilla and Crispa2 vintage. Or, if you are a 50s furniture and decoration devotee, you are sure to find the odd curio in Retrogrado (C/ San Luis 81). In the El Arenal quarter, taverns with a long-standing tradition rub shoulders with contemporary art galleries. So, don’t be surprised if you get served a chamomile tea with a fusion tapa in some trendy bar. When in Seville, the best thing is to just switch off and let the city lead you where it will.
Modernity, 178 Metres Up
The Pelli Tower, located near Las Setas de la Encarnación and between the Triana quarter and La Cartuja, is the other major indicator that Seville is at the forefront of modern trends. But this skyscraper was controversial, too, as, apart from La Giralda, the city has never had tall buildings and the tower’s construction drew the criticism that it severed the horizontality of the skyline. A stroll through this area will also bring you within sight of the buildings left behind from Expo 92, an era which spawned such noteworthy constructions as the New Airport Terminal, designed by Rafael Moneo, the Santa Justa Train Station, by Cruz y Ortiz, and the famous Alamillo Bridge, by Santiago Calatrava.
Eating and Sleeping
Seville has a huge gastronomic assortment but, if you want to try a reworking of traditional culinary classics, Yebra is the restaurant to go for. Without luxuries or frills, it is the sort of eatery that only locals frequent. Go in, rub shoulders with the people and enjoy! La Macarena is one of the most grass-roots districts in the city and you will soon feel at home.
And, for your sleepover, there is the Gran Meliá Colón, a revamped Seville classic featuring furniture by designers of the likes of Philippe Starck, Marcel Wanders and Edra. Then you have the Eme Catedral Hotel, a 16th-century building with cutting-edge fixtures and fittings where you can relax and luxuriate like a true king.
All that’s left is for you to pack your bags and book your flight to Seville.
Text by Aleix Palau for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
Images by losmininos
Seville and the Star Wars Saga
The Plaza de España is one of Seville’s major landmarks, along with the Cathedral and the Golden Tower (Torre del Oro) and is listed as a Cultural Interest Site. It was designed by Aníbal González as part of the María Luisa Park, chosen as the fairgroundfor the 1929 Ibero-American Exhibition. It is the largest open square in Seville and was designed in the Regionalist style in predominantly brick and ceramic.
Naboo? A District in Seville?
In Episode II: Attack of the Clones, (2002), the monumental Plaza de España was transformed into Theed, the capital of Naboo, the planet ruled by Queen Amidala. In the famous scene in the galactic movie, Anakin and Amidala talk about their relationship while strolling through the square. Naturally, in post-production, the classical tiles depicting the regions of Spain were removed.
Truth be told, it was merely a two-minute scene, and not a crucial one in the film. But, that matters little. The fact is that the peerless beauty of the Plaza de España was enough to captivate George Lucas and persuade him to shoot a scene there with two of the leading stars in the saga. And, naturally, the endearing droid, R2-D2, was also included.
The shoot took place in September 2000 and was completed in practically two days, long enough to create upheaval in Seville after a legion of actors, producers, technicians and others descended on the city, joined by thousands of onlookers and those jostling to secure a part as extras in the legendary galactic saga. In the end, only some 50 privileged people were selected as extras, by which they managed to become immortalised as citizens of Naboo strolling through the square.
Seville – A Film Set
The Plaza de España has also featured in other films, including Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and The Dictator (2012). However, there are also other monuments that have become enshrined on the big screen for posterity, serving as backdrops for such stars as Tom Cruise, or characters like Captain Alatriste. But, what did George Lucas, Ridley Scott or Agustín Díaz Yanes see in Seville that prompted them to choose it as a set for their movies? The city’s cultural and urbanistic wealth, its cuisine, good communications network, excellent climate and plethora of leisure offerings are not only ideal for filming, but also for a getaway at any time of the year.
The Reales Alcázares are yet another frequent backdrop in the city’s film history, having acted as a splendid setting for such movies as Reds, by Warren Beatty, Alatriste, by Agustín Díaz Yanes and 1492: Conquest of Paradise, by Ridley Scott, who also directed Kingdom of Heaven there. It is the oldest royal palace still in current use in Europe. Peter I commissioned its building in the 14th century and its interior houses vestiges of the three most prominent cultures in the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages – Jewish, Arab and Christian.
Other Seville landmarks that have been immortalised in filmmaking include the Cathedral, built over a former mosque and the third largest church in Christendom, in addition to La Giralda, the Indies Archive and the Santa Cruz District. These buildings, sited in the old city, formed the backdrop to Knight and Day, a heady movie directed by James Mangold, featuring Tom Cruise and Cameron Díaz fleeing from their enemies on motorbike. The same set was used for several scenes in the Spanish film, Nadie conoce a nadie, by Mateo Gil, starring Eduardo Noriega, Jordi Mollà and Natalia Verbeke. Lastly, and also within the world of Spanish cinema, we have Carmen, whose main star is Paz Vega. In this movie, the scenes in the tobacco factory were shot in the present-day Seville University Rectorate. The building is well worth visiting. Erected in the 18th century, it is second in size only to El Escorial in all of Spain.
Make haste to relive those moments in cinema history. And, now that we are graced with the premiere of Episode VII: The Force Awakens, what better way to pay tribute to the saga by visiting the stunning setting of one of its films? Come to Seville with Vueling and may the force be with you!
Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación
Images by Turismo de Sevilla