Published: July 14th 2009March 24th 2002
Semana Santa in Sevilla
The Nazarenos reminded me of the Ku Klux Clan (my apologies)...and they even seemed color-coordinated within the religious procession!
Semana Santa.......and we were in Sevilla!
Ku Klux Klan?
Look at these pictures. It's not some Ku Klux clan rally or some costume party or some parade. This is a Good Friday procession in the heart of Seville, Spain. We stayed in Hotel Don Paco
, and right in front of our hotel, some 4 to 5 processions must have passed. Carried on the shoulders of locals called "costaleros"
, the pasos
(religious statues) weaved through the narrow streets from almost all corners! Behind and in front of the pasos walked locals called "nazarenos"
wearing capes as you'd see in these photos. Some are in white capes, others in purple, some in blue, and many others in black and green . From our hotel , we watched as all these processions emerged from all streets...........and seemed to merge in the plaza near the shopping center (Serpies). Not too far away, we found a St. Joseph's chapel where we heard Good Friday mass . It was ironic that the streets outside were fully packed with crowds of all ages, and then find many vacant seats inside the church. Among the churchgoers were senior folks, young children obviously towed by
their grandparents, and us. The other adults and young teens were all out in the streets watching the religious processions and then disappeared into the many tapas bars all around Sevilla. A bit sad about this, but then times have changed. Walking back to our hotel, we got stuck with more processions.
City Tour of Seville
The following morning, our local guide Carmen toured us around Seville, starting with Casa Pilatos
which sadly pales in comparison with Alhambra. But of course. Yet it is not bad at all. Then there is the cathedral with the Giralda Tower
which only happens to be the 3rd largest Gothic Cathedral and the biggest altar in the world after St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican , and St. Paul's in London. The Cathedral also happens to be the resting place of Christopher Columbus. And then there is the Alcazar
, the royal palace where Muslim taifa rulers and Christian monarchs including Pedro I (Peter the Cruel) lived. Before calling it a night, we went to watch a Flamenco Show in this place crowded by tourists of almost all nationalities. The ticket to the Patio Sevillano
show already included a glass
of diluted wine or some diluted juice. The show started with 4 female flamenco dancers, each one good. It was wonderful to watch the dancers' agility with the fans, castanets or even their shawls! But the best was the solo performance of this male flamenco dancer who sweated through his routine. He stomped the floor like there was no tomorrow, he flipped his hands better than the women dancers, his back arched more than any other. That performance alone, makes it worth it. Such intensity!
A famous landmark in Seville is the Plaza Espana in Maria Luisa Park
where they had the 1929 American - Iberian Exhibition marking 500 years since the time Christopher Columbus discovered America. Truly a panorama of tiled ballustrades, fountains, towers, etc. Most of the lovely buildings were converted into embassies. We took many of the photos on this spread in this park.
Lunch meant more tapas and a good paella. But we were finding it difficult to appreciate the paella here as we were not used to a very wet paella. Perhaps that is really how the Spaniards cook their paellas? Mind you, we have tried many while touring around Spain.
Here in Sevilla, it was not different. It was just as wet as the other paellas we have tried. But then, there were the many tapas to try. Jamon Iberico, quezo manchego, and those baby eels.
Remember the opera "Carmen"
? Our guide reminded us of this young maiden working in a tobacco factory where 6,000 other women worked, and which magnificent building now houses a college in Seville. This is very near the Sevilla Pavillion which by the way, now houses a casino. And here's some trivia from our local guide: Lope de Vega, Cervantes and Shakespeare all died in the same year. Hmmm. Okay.
The next day, we left Sevilla soon after breakfast on our way to Lisbon, Portugal. Two hours into the ride, we reached the border. Before crossing, we stopped by this village where they make my favorite ham : Jamon Iberico de Jabugo.
What makes it so special? Hogs used to make this ham are fed acorns! After this, you can forget Jamon Serrano.
Spain is one country certainly worth visiting. But if there is one area where we would choose to stay longer,
that would be Sevilla. Tapas, flamenco, jamon jabugo. If you get lucky, you may even watch a bullfight.
There are more photos below