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Seville: Homeland of Carmen and Don Juan

Discover the rich history, vibrant culture, and iconic landmarks of Seville, Spain. From the Golden Tower to the Murillo Gardens, immerse yourself in the essence of this enchanting city.


Discover the rich history, vibrant culture, and iconic landmarks of Seville, Spain. From the Golden Tower to the Murillo Gardens, immerse yourself in the essence of this enchanting city.
Explore the Charms of Seville: History, Culture, and Landmarks | Fenix.info


1. What is the city known for?


The city is known for its history, culture, and landmarks such as the Alcázar palace complex, Seville Cathedral, Giralda Tower, Torre del Oro, and the Barrio Santa Cruz district. The city is also known for its flamenco dances and the spring fair (Feria de Abril), which is one of the most famous festivals in Spain. Seville is a popular tourist destination and an important economic and cultural center.




2. A Journey through Seville's History


Seville... As soon as we stepped off the bus, we saw a monument to someone who "was courageous, wrapped in a cloak..." No guitar, but with a sword. It looks somewhat like a cross between Dzerzhinsky and Lenin. This is a monument to the famous literary character Don Juan. It is said that he had a real prototype - the local aristocrat Don Juan Tenorio. He was quite a womanizer. And immediately the question arises: how? In a Catholic country? In the homeland of the Inquisition?


But it's simple: Don Juan was friends with the King of Castile and León, Pedro I, who himself had a mistress, which even angered the Pope. Of course, there is also a monument to the no less famous Carmen from Prosper Mérimée's novel.


According to García Lorca: Carmen dances in Seville By the walls, blue with chalk, And Carmen has fiery eyes, And her hair is snow-white. ...The courtyards of Seville are deserted, and in their evening depths, the hearts of Andalusians dream of traces of forgotten thorns. In the film "Big Break," the heroine Svetlana Kryuchkova sings a song: I'm here, Inezilla, I'm here under the window. Seville is wrapped In darkness and dreams.
Courageous, Wrapped in a cloak, With a guitar and a sword, I'm here under the window. The words, in case you didn't know, are by Alexander Pushkin, and the music is by Mikhail Glinka.
- Grigory Pasko, journalist (partner material).

Today's Seville, of course, is not wrapped in darkness or dream. The city is big and noisy, always bustling with tourists, not even sleeping at night. At the same time, it preserves its uniqueness, attractiveness, and beauty for many centuries.


Discover the rich history, vibrant culture, and iconic landmarks of Seville, Spain. From the Golden Tower to the Murillo Gardens, immerse yourself in the essence of this enchanting city.
Seville Square in Spain

3. There are walls, blue with chalk, in Seville


...And deserted courtyards (away from tourist routes)... Even the old tobacco factory where Carmen worked has been preserved. (A grandiose structure - no wonder the writer Karel Čapek mistook it for a royal palace). True, its walls are not blue but pale yellow, ochre. And they don't make cigars at the factory - now the university faculties are located there.


Interestingly, I didn't see Seville cigars on sale anywhere, not even as souvenirs - similar to those rolled at Carmen's factory. Moreover, in Mérimée's novella, there is a scene where the narrator offers Don José "a real Havana cigar." Havana, not Seville!


There's also a discrepancy with Carmen's hair in Lorca's poem: for young gypsy girls, it's deep black, not "snow-white." But it's poetry: images, conventions, metaphors... Poetry is everywhere in Seville. You look at some landmark, and immediately remember verses:


Seville is a tower in a jagged crown. Seville catches slow rhythms, and, shattering against stone edges, They weave like labyrinths, Like vines on a fire. That's Lorca. Byron puts it like this: Proud Seville with luxury and fame, Beautiful in her past features...
And here are the lines by Lope de Vega: A handsome city, undoubtedly. Everything in it is so lush, precious, And whoever lives here long Will gradually discover beauty in excess.
- Grigory Pasko, journalist (partner material).


4. Traces of Moorish Culture


However, in Seville, beauty is revealed not gradually, but immediately. Here they are, nearby, within walking distance, as they say. The Cathedral with its grandiose Giralda, Plaza de España, the Golden Tower, the church of Santa Maria la Blanca... An experienced traveler needs very little time to conclude: Seville is one of those Spanish cities where traces of Moorish culture are very well preserved.


5. The Alcázar of Seville


One of the brightest examples of such culture is the Alcázar palace in Seville - the former palace of the caliph and former residence of the Spanish kings. Essentially, it's a small Alhambra, but with a lot more architectural layers. Here you can find Moorish Mudéjar style, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque...


What tired travelers like most about the Alcázar is its coolness. There are plenty of shaded corners and murmuring fountains here. The Plaza de España leaves an indelible impression. When you come here, you immediately get the feeling that you've seen it before. Well, yes, that's right: the Star Wars film by George Lucas was shot here, as well as the movie "The Dictator" by Sasha Baron Cohen.


Discover the rich history, vibrant culture, and iconic landmarks of Seville, Spain. From the Golden Tower to the Murillo Gardens, immerse yourself in the essence of this enchanting city.
Seville Alcazar in Spain, Andalusia

6. Maria Luisa Park, Seville


But it's not just about the movies, it's about realizing that this square is exactly how an ideal square should be. Semicircular, with colonnades; with classical "tops" of beautiful buildings; with a lower tier of bright panels decorated with azulejos (a tribute to Mudéjar style - what would it be without it!); with a decorated bridge and a pond, on the smooth surface of which you can take a boat ride... And nearby is the wonderful Maria Luisa Park!



7. The Giralda of Seville


The Cathedral is noticeable from afar with its bell tower - the Giralda. The cathedral is huge (third after St. Peter's in Rome and St. Paul's in London), beautiful, and complex. You can walk through it for hours. Its highlight is the orange grove inside the courtyard. And there's also the tomb of Christopher Columbus.


In the Giralda (in Spanish - "to turn") you won't immediately recognize the former minaret of a Muslim mosque. It's hard to imagine now that there were once four copper spheres installed at the very top, which, shining in the Andalusian sun, were visible from afar to travelers.


Today, at the top, there is a weather vane (hence - to turn) in the form of a statue symbolizing Christian faith. I still regret not climbing to the top: from there, the whole of Seville is like in the palm of your hand.
The figures of the characters carrying the coffin with the navigator are richly decorated with gold. There is a legend that this gold is from what the navigator brought from the New World.
— Grigory Pasko, journalist (partner material)


8. The Golden Tower of Seville


The Golden Tower is another landmark of Seville. It stands alone on the banks of the Guadalquivir River. The tower is rich in history. Throughout its long life, it has served as a warehouse, a prison, a chapel, and a museum...


In the 12th century, during the Almohad era, there were 166 such towers in Seville as part of the defensive system. Why is the tower golden? Some say that it was once adorned with gilded azulejos. Others say that it once held gold brought from America by Columbus.


Discover the rich history, vibrant culture, and iconic landmarks of Seville, Spain. From the Golden Tower to the Murillo Gardens, immerse yourself in the essence of this enchanting city.
Golden Tower of Seville, Spain

9. La Maestranza


Not far from the tower is the La Maestranza bullring (opposite stands a monument to Carmen, whom, as is known, the opera's Don José killed here); a theater with the same name, the Caridad Hospital (they say that a repentant Seville aristocrat, Don Juan, had a hand in its creation)...


It is well known that five operas are set in Seville - Beethoven's "Fidelio"; Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" and "Don Giovanni"; Rossini's "The Barber of Seville," and Bizet's "Carmen." And it is also known that none of the composers ever visited Seville.


Discover the rich history, vibrant culture, and iconic landmarks of Seville, Spain. From the Golden Tower to the Murillo Gardens, immerse yourself in the essence of this enchanting city.
Maestranza bullfighting arena in Seville, Spain

10. Murillo Gardens and the Old Santa Cruz Quarter


In Seville, you cannot pass by the Murillo Gardens and the old Santa Cruz Quarter. Historians write that the artist Murillo found models for his paintings on these narrow streets - beggars and saints.


How can we not remember Lope de Vega: What kind of people the Sevillians are! Noble! Incorruptible! Firmer than marble and brass! ...Oh, what nobility! And what firmness of spirit! ...But in my opinion, madness! Amazing people! Yes! Their homeland is Seville!
— Grigory Pasko, journalist (partner material)

"Nobility," "firmness of spirit" - all this was, of course. But in these lines from "The Star of Seville," the irony of the writer shines through, because, like in any medieval and modern city, there were - and are! Thieves, prostitutes, and fraudsters...


And that! The atmosphere of the city itself seems to provoke revelry and merriment. It is written that Saint Teresa, visiting Seville, appreciated the fortitude of the local nuns, who did not succumb to sinfulness: "There are more demons here than anywhere else, reaching out to tempt."


Cтарый квартал Санта Круз в Севилье, Испания | Fenix.info - В Севилье вы никак не пройдете мимо садов Мурильо и старого квартала Санта Круз. Историки пишут, что художник Мурильо на этих узких улочках находил моделей для своих картин — нищих и святых.
Old Quarter of Santa Cruz in Seville, Spain

I didn't encounter any modern ladies of the easiest virtue. Was I looking in the wrong place? Couldn't recognize them? However, in Cervantes' time, they would surely have stood out to me. The writer described them like this: "...Girls with rouged cheeks, painted lips, and heavily powdered bosoms; they wore short serge cloaks and behaved with extraordinary shamelessness." By the way, isn't it about them in Lorca's lines, where he writes about "snow-white hair"?


And one more detail on the topic: one of Columbus's ships was called "Nina" — a child, a little one... That's exactly how Seville's prostitutes used to beckon their clients.
— Grigory Pasko, journalist (partner material).

...One could describe the beauties and landmarks of Seville for a long time. Look at the map - and you will understand it yourself. Of course, you'll want to visit everywhere: the House of Pilate (which has nothing to do with Pilate); the City Hall building; the Indies Archive; the Museum of Arts...


And in the evening, you should go somewhere and watch - listen to flamenco. In Seville, as connoisseurs claim, the dance "sevillanas" was born - the precursor of the legendary flamenco. By the way, in some establishments, you can enjoy dancing and singing flamenco and sipping wonderful Spanish wine.


However, about wine - another time... It's a whole separate story.


Article author: journalist Grigory Pasko for Fenix.info.


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