Tag Archives: antiquarium

Seville | Metropol Parasol

Most people who come to Seville for the sightseeing, and to absorb the unique atmosphere of the city have in mind its late mediaeval heritage sites, the Cathedral, the Reales Alcazares (Royal Palaces), and perhaps the Archivos de Indias. Throw in the Old Jewish quarter (Barrio Santa Cruz), Plaza España, and a quick visit to Triana across the river, and Bob’s your uncle – job done.

IMG_7554Plaza Encarnación and the Metropol Parasol

Or at least, almost. The Metropol Parasol, to give them their proper name (they’re also known as las Setas or the Mushrooms), are Seville’s contribution to modern, avant-garde architecture and can come as something of a surprise if you stumble upon them unexpectedly. The swooping umbrella shaped lattice structure comprises six parasols, and rises about 26 metres above the ground, and is, in fact, the world’s largest wooden structure. It was designed by the German architect Jürgen Mayer-Hermann, who won the competition for a building to complete the redevelopment of the Plaza de la Encarnación, and after six years of work was completed in April 2011.

view metropol parasolView from the top of the Parasol

The shape was said to have been inspired by the vaults of the cathedral roof, and by the giant fig trees in the nearby Plaza Cristo de Burgos. Predictably, the design, location, delays and cost overruns made it a controversial project, but now it’s completed its eyecatching shape and open spaces have helped to restore the economic and social life of the neighbourhood.

1-038-mar182014 041The Parasols at Night

Like the city itself, the site of the Metropol Parasols is something of a historical layer cake. The name of the square, Plaza de la Encarnación, derives from the Convent of the Incarnation, an order of Augustinian nuns, which was located here from 1591 until its demolition in the early 19th century (the order then moving to its present home in the Plaza del Triunfo). In about 1840 the city’s central provisions market was established here, continuing in operation until 1973, when the building, by then in a ruinous state, was demolished as part of an urban renewal project. The stallholders were moved to “temporary” accommodation in the northeast corner of the square, where they were to languish for the next 37 years.

060-mar182014 019Roman fish salting works – Antiquarium

The site of the original market was left abandoned until 1990, when work on the construction of underground parking for a new market began, only to be halted shortly afterwards by the discovery of Roman ruins beneath. These can now be seen in the Antiquarium, the museum in the basement of the complex, and include a fish salting factory, esidential buildings and some well preserved mosaics. It’s well worth a visit, and is a nice contrast to the modern structure above. At ground level is the market, reinstalled in a modern market hall in its original location, and the main commercial hub of the neighbourhood. The roof of the market hall forms a plaza which holds various public events, such as small concerts and the christmas fair. From the basement take a lift up to the bar and walkways on the top of the structure for great views across the city.

IMG_7553Seasonal mushrooms in the market of the Mushrooms

Almost next door, our holiday apartments in Calle Laraña have views of the Mushrooms and are within easy walking distance of other sights and facilities.

Seville | Markets & Mushrooms – Metropol Parasol

Overpriced, overdue and out of place – Seville’s Metropol Parasol (popularly known as “las Setas”, or the mushrooms) has been no stranger to controversy, but since it’s completion in early 2011, it’s curving, swooping ultra-modern shape has become an important tourist attraction in the heart of the old city, and helped to revitalise an area that had become rather run down.

mushrooms 2

The Parasols can be found in the Plaza de la Encarnación, straddling the main east-west streets Calle Laraña and Calle Imagen. The square is named for the late mediaeval monastery that stood here until the early 19th century, when it was demolished to make way for a new central provisions market (whose successor is on the ground floor). In the 1970s the area was the target of “urban renewal” and the market building (by then in a poor state of repair) was pulled down, and the stall holders moved to “temporary” accommodation on a vacant lot beside the square. Although it had always been the intention to restore the market to its original location, the site was effectively abandoned until 1990, when work began on a proposed underground car park. But after substantial Roman ruins were discovered on the site, work stopped, plans were shelved, and the archaeologists moved in. Finally, in 2004 the local council held a competition for a design for a new market building in the square, which was won by the German architect Jürgen Mayer-Hermann‘s futuristic parasols. Despite technical and financial problems the project was finally completed in April 2011.

mushrooms 3But it was all worth it in the end. The first time you see them is definitely one of those “Wow!” moments. Said to be the largest wooden structure in the world, it swoops and arches above you like, well, a giant mushroom. But it’s functional, too. At ground level, as promised, is the Encarnación market, back in its rightful home after a break of 37 years, with shops and bars alongside. The roof of the market provides an open space for public events, especially the Christmas fair, world cup finals on the big screen, and occasional concerts. Below ground-level is the Antiquarium, the museum that houses the Roman ruins, which have been carefully restored and are a must-see for anyone with an interest in history. From there you can also take the lift up to the top. The walkways give you a great view of the surroundings, and you can enjoy a drink and a tapa at the Gastrosol bar complex.

The neighbouring streets have been rejunevated too, especially the two areas of small boutiques, Soho Benita and Regina, with their emphasis on local designers and artworks, and the open part of the square with trees and benches is a pleasnt place to sit in the shade of a summers day. This is a part of Seville that’s fairly new to tourism, but as the mushrooms have drawn people here, it has become a busy vibrant space, and one of the city’s treasures.

mushrooms 1

The walkways and bar are open from 10:30am to midnight, entrance €3.00 (though you get a discount on your first drink), and the Antiquarium from 10.00am to 8.00pm Tuesday to Saturday and 10.00am to 2.00pm Sundays, entrance €2.

Veoapartment has five holiday apartments in Laraña with views of the Parasols.

Seville | Things to do When it Rains

Although Seville enjoys around 300 days of sunshine a year, from time to time, particularly in winter – for example, like this week – you can get relatively long spells of wet weather. But it would be a shame to let that spoil your holiday, so we’ve come up with a list of suggestions for things to do for those rare occasions when the sun isn’t shining.

rainy plazaPlaza de la Alfalfa

Go to the cinema
The Avenida 5 Cines complex in Calle Marques de Paradas shows current movies in original versions. Curl up with your favourite stars and never mind the weather. Check the programme here (it changes every Friday).

The Museum of Fine Arts
One of Spain’s most important art museums with works by all the Spanish old masters including local boys made good Velazquez and Murillo. It’s in a lovely old building that was once the convent of the Order of Merced Calzada de la Asunción. Well worth taking a couple of hours.

The Cathedral
The Cathedral is on your list anyway, and you don’t want to waste good sunshine time indoors, so visit it now. It’s the biggest Gothic cathedral, and third largest church, in the world, but it isn’t just big, it’s actually rather interesting, with the tomb of Christopher Columbus, lots of gold, and a stuffed crocodile.

eating in the rainGo Shopping
Another of those activities that normally keeps you indoors when you’d rather be outdoors. Take advantage of the fact that everyone else is still at home to shop in peace. You don’t even have to buy anything unless you really want to.

Tapas Bars
Find a nice cosy tapas bars and order up a round (or two) of food and drinks. Sit where you can watch the poor unfortunates outside hurrying past with their umbrellas, and feel suitably smug because you’re on holiday. Or put your own umbrella to good use like this fellow and defy the elements.

The Antiquarium and Encarnación Market
Going topside may not be so great in the rain (though there are some nice bars up there), but going down under the “mushrooms” in the Plaza de la Encarnación takes you to the Roman ruins and museum. Marvel at the mosaics, columns, walls and wells while listening to the rain on the roof. If you’re there in the morning you can also take a stroll through the Encarnación market on the main level. This will work up your appetite ready for lunch.

Stay at Home
It may be the last resort, but you’re staying in a warm, comfy veoapartment, and there’s something primevally satisfying about being indoors and listening to the rain outside. So grab a book and a glass of wine, turn on the telly and settle down for an hour or two. The sun will be out soon enough.