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Posts tagged ‘el jueves’

Seville | The Macarena Neighbourhood

No, we’re not talking about the 1990s dance craze (though there’s a loose connection), or about the football stadium in Rio de Janeiro (it’s not even spelt that way). We’re talking about the neighbourhood of La Macarena that forms the northeast quarter of the historic centre of Seville in Spain. A largely residential area away from the main monuments – the Cathedral and Alcázar Palace – and its more touristy neighbour the Santa Cruz, the Macarena’s working class roots (it is said to have once been the poorest slum in Spain) give it an authentic local atmosphere with plenty to see and do.

macarena (2)La Virgen de la Esperanza de la Macarena

The name itself is thought to come either from Macarius, a wealthy Roman said to have owned a lot of land in the area, or more probably from Bab-al-Makrin, the Moorish name for the Macarena city gate that still stands at the northern end of San Luis street, next to the longest surviving section of the mediaeval city wall that was built to enclose the new northern extension of the city in the 11th century.

The Macarena’s greatest claim to fame is probably the statue of La Virgen de la Esperanza de la Macarena, the Virgin of Hope, the most popular of the statues of the Virgin that take part in the city’s Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions. She was created in the late 17th century, probably by the famous sculptor Pedro Roldán and/or his daughter Luisa, and is the patroness of bullfighters. Even today, her appearance in the pre-dawn hours of Good Friday draws huge crowds onto the streets. She can normally be seen in the Basilica of Macarena, beside the city gate.

macarena (1)the Macarena Gate

La Macarena is also home to the city’s oldest provisions market, on Calle Feria, and to the oldest street market in Europe, El Jueves, the Thursday market. This antiques/second-hand/bric-a-brac market got its charter in the 13th century, and is still a fun place to come and look for a bargain, or just to feel the vibe. The provisions market, mentioned by Cervantes, moved off the street into its current quarters next to the Omnium Sanctorum church in the 18th century. Come here for all that fresh fish and fruit and veg, and the little bars around the outside, especially La Cantina, which serves the freshest seafood tapas in Seville. Behind the market, in the Palacio Algaba, you can also find Seville’s Mudejar Centre, a small museum that celebrates the culture and achievements of the city’s Moorish period. Worth a visit to find out how the past has influenced the present.mercado feria entrance to the Feria Market

One of my favourite things to so, here as in other parts of Seville, is just to wander around the neighbourhood streets, and see what you stumble across. For me, surprise treats have included some of the artesan workshops, particularly Rompemoldes, the old San Luis church, the Garden of the Moorish king, and the faded splendour of the Pumarejo Palace. Rent one of our apartments in the neighbourhood as abase and just go exploring this whole other Seville.

Seville | El Jueves Street Market

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Go down to Calle Feria on a Thursday morning and you could be in for a big surprise, as a long section of the city centre end of the street and some side streets are taken over by the stalls of the El Jueves (Spanish for Thursday) market. Officially it’s an antiques market, but though you can find antiques here, the range of things on sale is much wider and more eclectic. Ceramics, paintings and furniture jostle for attention with second hand books and toys, watches and accessories, CDs and recycled fixtures and fittings. As with all such markets, it’s this almost anarchic mix of products, the possibility of the unexpected, of never knowing when you’re going to stumble on that unmissable bargain or perfect souvenir, that draws the crowds. Looking for a pepper mill to match your salt cellar? A lava lamp? A console for your old video-games? You just might find them here. If not, never mind, half the fun is in the browsing, the wondering why anybody would ever by one of those, or even what one of those actually is. Feel like a break? Go and sit in one of the local bars with a coffee and toast – or a cheeky cold beer – and just watch the bustle outside.

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Time also to reflect on just how long people have been coming here on  Thursday mornings to buy and sell their wares. El Jueves is thought to be the oldest still-existing market in Europe, dating back to the 13th century, just after the Christian reconquest of the city (and there are rumoured to be one or two items from that era that have shown up every Thursday since then), when it was set up to help stimulate the economy Indeed, the very name of the street, Feria (Fair) reflects this history. Originally it would have been an agricultural and craftsman’s market. After the discovery of America it would doubtless have seen new exotic objects from overseas to add to the mix.

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In the 19th century, the farmers’ market moved into its own building, now the Feria market, and the street would have begun to look something like it does today, with its small shops and businesses. But through all the changes, it seems the Thursday Market goes on forever.

It’s lunchtime now, the stallholders packing up, the buyers drifting away. You’re hungry. There are lots of places to eat, but our favourites are La Cantina and La Cocinera Feliz, the little bars inside the provisions market. Taberna de Pasos Largos and La Duquesita are good too.

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If you want to stay in this authentically Sevillano part of town have a look at our Macarena and San Vicente apartment listings.