Plaza de Espana Seville

Many cities in European country's have places named after the country itself. Each one of these is clamouring to be the one place to capture the essence of their country. Seville's Plaza de Espana is a monumental and wonderful example with its set of villas, ponds and gardens. Its beauty has been captured on film so many times, most recently and successfully in one of the Star Wars movies. Make sure you come here to walk around when you visit the city.

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A period of urban renewal swept Spain in the early years of the XXth Century. Seville was not spared. The ‘Fair of the Americas’ exhibition was coming here in 1929 and the whole place needed sprucing up. Thankfully for us, future tourists, the city officials were up to the task. Unfortunately, in 1929, the stock markets crashed and countries saw their wealth disappear, and the consequence was that no fair was held in Seville. What to do with the Plaza de Espana, which is a site to behold? It became the seat for many government offices and a place for locals and visitors to relax and hang out.

This plaza in Seville really is a breath taking piece of architeture

But how and who? Where we are now looking at used to be the San Telmo Palace’s garden. It was built in 1682 and named after St. Telmo, the patron saint of navigators. Its purpose was a marine university. Antonio Matias de Figueroa made some changes to it in 1734 when he added the portal overlooking Avenida de Roma where there are plenty of figures representing the arts and sciences as well as saints, most importantly of which is St. Telmo holding a ship. As of 1849, the palace was the private residence of the Montpensiers, a noble family who had married into the Spanish royal house in 1846 and would become closely related to King Afonso XII of Spain In 1893, the Parque Maria Lluisa was donated to the city. But by 1901, the building became a seminary and then later houses the regional government offices.

The fountain in the middle of the semi cirular building that surrounds is a sight and a half

The principal architectural mind behind the Plaza de España was Anibal Gonzalez, who began redesigning it in 1911 for the aborted ‘Fair of the Americas.’ He put a great deal of style in the villas. He used a lot of marble columns, burnt orange brick and tiles. The design of the Plaza de España is a marvel. It is a semi-circular area full of alcoves, fountains and staircases. Each Spanish province has a niche. Do you have a favourite one? A canal lies between the plaza and building, which you have to cross on two blue and white bridges. In the centre is a large fountain dominating the whole plaza. It might be a bit hard finding a place to sit. A moat surrounds it, on which you can rent a boat. If boating does not grab you, then try one of the horse carriages.

Each province has its own little alcove with a mosaic in it

One of the more spectacular statues in the Plaza de España is that of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, otherwise known as El Cid, a legendary figure in Spanish history. He fought for and against both Christian and Muslim rule. Books, plays and movies have been made about him. There is also the Theatre Lope de Vega, which used to be the old casino. One of the villas would be used as the Museum of Archaeology to hold a precious collection of prehistoric artefacts. Nearby is the Fabrica de Tabacos, the old tobacco history, where the opera Carmen was set.

No matter how you look at this building you will be sure to remember that you have been here

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