Category Archives: Guest Blogger

Aníbal González – The Man Who Built Seville

This week we have another guest post by blogger, teacher, tour guide and history buff,
Peter Tatford, former Londoner and long-term Seville resident, aka Seville Concierge

anibal gonzalez

Unless you’re interested in architecture you may not even have heard of him, but if you’ve been to Seville you’ll certainly have seen quite a lot of his work. If you have heard of him it’s most likely in connection with the iconic Plaza de España, built for the Spanish-American exhibition of 1929, and one of Seville’s top must-sees for any visitor.

But there’s more to González (Aníbal González Álvarez-Ossario, to give him his rather impressive full name) than just the Plaza de España. He was one of the few who accomplished the architect’s dream of not only designing great buildings, but of leaving his mark on an entire city.

He was born in modest circumstances in 1876, the eldest of three children, and developed an early interest in books. It was a struggle for his parents to pay for his schooling, but in 1902 the sacrifices bore fruit, and he qualified as an architect. In 1910 he was appointed director of works for the proposed Spanish American exhibition, a post he held until 1927, when he resigned because of disagreements with the new Royal Commissioner for the exhibition, José Cruz Conde. In 1920 he was the target of an attempted assassination, and from then until his death in May 1929 he was always accompanied by a bodyguard. The exhibition opened just a few days before he died.

Although his early work was in a modernist style, as Director of the exhibition he developed what would become known as Neomudejar, utilising many aspects of the classic Mudejar architecture of the 13th to 15th centuries, particularly the use of brick, tiles and horseshoe arches, but combining these with elements of Gothic and Baroque, as well as his own personal touches.

plaza espana

The Plaza España in Maria Luisa Park, the semicircular centrepiece of the exhibition with its representations of all the Spanish provinces, boating lake, fountains and towers, is undoubtedly his crowning achievement (a statue of him erected two years ago stands outside the entrance to the Plaza), but he was also responsible for the Plaza America, including the buildings that now house the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Popular arts and Customs, and the Royal Pavilion.

Away from the exhibition some of his best known works include several buildings on the west side of the Avenida de la Constitución, especially the house of the Marques de Villamarta on the corner of Garcia de la Vinuesa (it’s the one with the narrow circular turret), the Bankinter building in the Campana, the Capilla del Carmen at the end of Triana Bridge, and the house with the big glassed-in balcony on the corner of the Plaza de los Refinadores (which I always tell visitors is where I want to live).

He was Seville’s most prolific architect in the first third of the 20th century, and his work also inspired a number of others who followed in his footsteps, and helped create an important part of the appearance of the city today.

Miradores of Seville

This week’s post is by guest blogger Peter Tatford,
former Londoner and long-term Seville resident, aka Seville Concierge

Okay, it’s true that Seville doesn’t have miradores (lookout points) in the sense that Granada has them, up on the hillside facing the Alhambra, but if you want a bird’s eye view of the city, and most of us do, there are several vantage points you can head for that take you up and out of the maze of narrow streets.

The first, and it has to be admitted, most obvious, is the Giralda tower, alongside the Cathedral in the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes. Built in the 12th century as the minaret of the Moorish Grand Mosque, it’s original purpose was not for vision, but for sound – allowing the voice of the muezzin to carry across the city unobstructed by taller buildings. This is also the reason why the top of the tower is reached by means of a ramp, rather than stairs; climbing the tower five times a day in Seville’s summer heat was too demanding, and the ramp allowed the muezzin to ride up on his donkey. From the top you can see a fabulous roofscape of the Barrio Santa Cruz (it’s a whole other world up there, invisible from ground level), and of the Alcázar Palace and gardens.

View from the Metropol Parasol, Seville

Stop number two is the Espacio Metropol Parasol, the futuristic mushroom-shaped structure in the Plaza de la Encarnación. Completed just two years ago, it features not only the rooftop bar and walkway, but also the Antiquarium Museum, and one of the city’s principal provisions markets. Great views of the Macarena and San Vicente, and towards the river and la Cartuja.

Moving on to stop number three we arrive at the Torre de Los Perdigones, near the Macarena end of the Barqueta Bridge (the one that looks like a strange musical instrument). The original purpose of the tower was the making of lead shot, but it’s now been converted to house a camera oscura and an external viewing platform that’s a bit of a challenge for anyone with vertigo. Worth the trip, though, for the unusual views of the Expo ’92 site, the Alameda, and the old walls.

Finally, although not as tall, the Torre del Oro offers not only an excellent vantage point overlooking Triana and the river  (its original function), but also an unusually clear view of the upper parts of the front of the Cathedral.

If you’re more adventurous, or just have more time, you could head out across the river to the Aljarafe, specifically to Camas, where you can look right across the valley from the hilltops, a view that visitors don’t often get to see.

In addition there are a number of rooftop bars that give good views of the city (personal favourites are at the Fontecruz and the Hotel Inglaterra), so take advantage of the one at your hotel, or the terrace of your apartment.

Seville will shortly acquire a new lookout at the top of the Torre Cajasol. This will have the double advantage of being the highest in Seville, and also the only one which doesn’t have the tower itself as a feature of the view. Enjoy!

Seville | 48 Hours in the City

We have another guest post this week, this time from former Londoner
and long-term Seville resident Peter Tatford, aka Seville Concierge

With an enticing combination of historical atmosphere, fine weather, local colour, and a growing reputation for good food and wine, Seville has become one of Europe’s top destinations for short break holidays. If you’re travelling with a family or as a group, or simply want more independence than a hotel gives you, renting a self-catering holiday apartment may well be a good option, and there are plenty to choose from in Seville.

The labyrinth of small narrow streets can make Seville a difficult city to find your way around, so you’ll need a good map. A thoughtful apartment owner should provide one, or you can get one from the main Tourism Office in the Plaza San Francisco, on the corner next to Bar Laredo. The staff there are very helpful and you can also use the computers. There is another office on the Avenida de la Constitución near the Puerta de Jerez.

Here is my quick guide to getting the best out of a two-night stay in Seville.

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Granada | A Beginner’s Guide

This week we have a guest post by busy blogger and Granada resident Molly Sears-Piccavey.
This is her Beginner’s Guide to Granada

Most people have heard of Spain’s most visited monument, Granada´s Alhambra Palace, but beyond that often people don’t know much more about the area. I’ve lived in the city of Granada for more than 6 years now. When I first came here the cobbled streets and locals really fascinated me. Here are a few tips to enhance your experience when visiting Granada.

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