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discovery: 1929 expo tiles

Spain, Portugal, Espanha espera a nossa visita

Many tourists are told an old, tired tale that Spain & Portugal merely tolerate each other… as if turning their backs to one another at the border. Nothing could be further from the truth. Since early medieval times, intermarriage between the Portuguese & Castilian courts formed the cornerstone of foreign policy for both kingdoms. The 1385 battle at Batalha established a fairly permanent border between them, but soon afterwards the Discoveries era brought them into frequent contact again. Portuguese captains worked for Spain with ship crews almost always a mix from both. To the chagrin of other European countries, Spain & Portugal divided the world. Even in the 20th century, both had decades-long dictatorships. Spain & Portugal have much more in common than most people realize.

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sevilla: exhibición de enganches

España, Spain, Andalucía, Sevilla, horse, caballo, Exhibición de Enganches

While Feria may not be my thing, an event coinciding with the April fair gets me excited every year: a horse carriage display & competition. The first one took place in 1984 & later, with the King of Spain accepting the title of honorary President, the Club de Enganches de Andalucía added Real (“royal”) to their title. Horses & Andalucía have gone together forever, & many families choose to arrive to their caseta during feria either on horseback or by carriage… one more way to promote local culture as well as add a touch of glamour.

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sevilla: san luis de los franceses

España, Spain, Sevilla, Jesuit, San Luis de los Franceses, Baroque

Sevilla —as any city with a 2,000-year history— has seen its share of ups & downs. But one of its most prosperous periods came after the discovery of the Americas in 1492. Possessing an inland location on a river navigable all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, Sevilla became the heart of all trade for the Spanish empire. Wealth & power concentrated in a walled city rich with tax income & bursting with new products as well as new ideas… even for Catholicism.

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spain: itálica

España, Andalucía, Sevilla, Itálica, Roman

A short ride from Sevilla, getting off the bus in Santiponce may feel like you’ve stepped into small-town Spain. But you’re about to enter the hometown of two emperors & what was once a thriving city of 10,000 people… at one of the far reaches of the Roman Empire.

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sevilla: semana santa

España, Spain, Semana Santa, Holy Week, La Paz

What a week! Yesterday wrapped up my second Semana Santa in Sevilla, & it’s time to come down from all the exhilaration + exhaustion. There’s nothing quite like bringing in the spring with a week-long pageant: the city government spruces up public spaces, locals deck out in their finest new clothes, & everyone says goodbye to the winter blues.

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christmas in sevilla

Spain, España, Christmas, Navidad, Sevilla

For much of the world, Christmas was over two weeks ago… ah, but not for us. Spain is one of several countries that celebrate Epiphany (Jan 6th) in a big way. That’s when the Three Wise Men, the Magi or los Reyes Magos arrived in Bethlehem to pay their respects & give gifts to Jesus. Although I’ve spent tons of time in Spain over the past 17 years, I haven’t been here for Christmas since 1998. Seems like a special event happened almost every day! I’m thrilled we’re back to normal now, & maybe a timeline of events will help explain why the holidays this year wore me out.

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sevilla: cathedral

Spain, España, Sevilla, catedral, cathedral

Think about Spain for a moment… go ahead, I’ll wait.

Most of the images that come immediately to mind are in fact typical of the south & of Sevilla, in particular. Sevilla’s spirit —partially through clever marketing— has captured everyone’s imagination. But the city truly lives up to its reputation. An ambiance exists in Sevilla, even when crowded with tourists, that is difficult to put into words. I imagine every visitor goes there to feel a bit of the city’s special vibe for themselves.

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buenos aires: monumento al cid campeador

Buenos Aires, Caballito, El Cid Campeador, Anna Hyatt Huntington

Nestled into the center of a busy intersection in Caballito, surrounding buildings dwarf a statue of El Cid Campeador by American sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. Traffic noise also prevents any quiet contemplation of my personal favorite statue… but that can be avoided by going early on Sunday mornings for a look at this fantastic piece of public art, cleaned & restored in 2006:

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