Seville: A Saucerful of Secrets

Posted by in Architecture, Travel

Dawn in the city of secrets


Frying or freezing could have been the title here. I am no stranger to the heat but more so in Asia. 37 was commonplace in Guangzhou. Likewise freezing in hostel dorms or on public transport and so Seville breathes a familiar air. My expectation was to be done with the cauldron city within a few hours but Seville engages exactly the way Valencia, Alicante and Malaga didn’t.

So I finally had a city other than Barcelona and Castellón that I actually liked but August was not the best time to be seeing it. The dawn meanwhile creeps over the rooftops offering a calm window between 7am and about 10ish to peruse the streets and its many secret interiors before the heat simmers to a boil.

Libraries old and new in Seville


I am struggling with finishing my A-ha blog as the libraries close early (like lunchtime) and won’t be on normal hours til September when I’m informed by my hosts the city comes alive! Wow I’d love to see that (unless it’s like Murcia and the city streets become very public toilets!) The libraries as you can see vary drastically from each other.

One I mistake for a ruin but curiosity led me through its open door to find another, equally puzzling. Almost like an Aztec pyramid with a black arched door in it. I felt like Alice going through the looking glass. Inside an oasis of plant life and calm, no one was fighting to get to a desk. Then by complete paradox there’s the ultra modern edifice on the river but as mentioned its hours were greatly diminished and in the outside heat so are mine and I retire for a snooze.

Blue is the colour…

Only after a few days do I make it across the river to the Pueblo de Futuro complete with rocket and the Caixa forum (smaller than Barcelona’s) who have an exhibition on Blue (the Colour of Modernism). What I have noticed is a lack of sky scrapers and maybe that’s because the sun feels close enough! Though it never stopped the upward cluster of high rises in Guangdong. 

Invisible city


Also cross river is Triana a lovely district owing to its gypsy past. I don’t see it all as the heat seals the window of time shut and the rest of the day is spent online. What I do see  is yet another glimpse of Seville’s secret alcoves, inner patios and doorways to other more secret worlds.
The life of the Sevillian (not just in Triana but in the lanes around its Cathedral). A map of Santa Cruz looks like something from a Choose Your Own Adventure book or a lost entry for an Invisible City Calvino overlooked or forgot, and Santa Cruz would remain just that, unfound, untouched and unseen by the eyes of a tired nomad.

Things to do with Balsa


Next morning I aim for the Plaza de la Encarnaciòn (masterminded by German architect Jurgen Mayer) aka Metropol Parasol which the locals call Las Setas (the mushrooms). Like the Pyramid at Paris Louvre, unless you knew it was there you wouldn’t have a clue. Visually it looks like someone’s gone nuts with gigantic slats of balsa wood and slotted them into mushroom shaped pods either end of an elongated arial walkway.

Seville’s stations old and new; Plaza de Armas left and right the current day station at Santa Justa

Plaza de Armas in its heyday


Another Plaza (de Armas) across the street from the main bus station (of the same name) is nothing much save for a McDonald’s and a gallery space but there are some nice photos of when it was the city’s main train station – now at Santa Justa a few blocks away but in these kinds of temps believe me it’s far enough! There is no time to get lost in the maze of Santa Cruz secret lanes and streets before I’m bound for… stay tuned to find out.

Start saving your ideas


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*As I was still working on the a-ha blog a good proportion of songs on my mind walkman were related to that. Real Meaning and Keep the Sun Away are particularly relevant.
Real Meaning (from Foot of the Mountain) – A-ha
Keep the Sun Away (from Out of my Hands) – Morten Harket
Broken Glass Park (from Celebration) – Simple Minds
Faith in this Colour (Slow Version)(from the Singles 81-85 box set) – Duran Duran
Wishy-Washy Wishing (from More Better Different) – Mick Karn
*perfect for wandering around old towns in the early hours and in keeping with the title of this blog…
Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun (from A Saucerful of Secrets) – Pink Floyd