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Seville Tourism Week

December 2, 2016 – 7:47 pm


Sevilla Tourism Week was a four-day conference looking at the present and future of this key industry in the city. Sevilla Tourism Week was a four-day conference looking at the present and future of this key industry in the city.

A couple of weeks ago, a new tourism conference was held in Seville, organised by dynamic Tourism Director Antonio Jimenez.

Based around talks and round-table discussions, with plenty of robust questions from the audience, Sevilla Tourism Week (15 to 18 November) addressed a number of key issues relevant to Seville, its booming visitor numbers, and the potential for sustainable development as a tourist destination.

These included:



  • How can we capture, and utilise, data about the visitors who come to Seville, such as which countries they come from, where and how long they stay, and how much they spend?
  • Who is the “perfect tourist”? What is a “quality tourist”? Is it someone who stays at a luxury hotel and spends a high amount eating and shopping, or is it someone who respects their destination, regardless of their travel and spending budget.
  • Should we consider limiting the number of visitors to the city, or capping the number of hotel rooms available the historic city centre, as Barcelona has done? Venice was cited as an example of a city which has been adversely affected by an unmanageably high amount of visitors.
  • What methods can we use to move the pressure of visitors away from the area around the Cathedral and Alcazar, which get extremely busy and crowded during high season?
  • How can we convince people to stay here longer? We need to offer more (paid-for) tourism products, according to Antonio Muñoz, Culture and Tourism Delegate  of Seville City Council. And we need to seize advantages to distinguish ourselves from other cities – if Murillo 2017 (see below) goes well, we can plan other such events.
  • Events
    • How can we make the most of important anniversaries in the city, such as the Año de Murillo 2017 – the anniversary of the birth of Murillo, the Golden Age painter (1617 – 1682)? What is the best way to bring this major cultural event to the attention of potential visitors? What other parallel events could be organised around the theme, such as music, dance and gastronomy? This thought-provoking talk was given by Victor Cobos, Sponsorship Director of M&C Saatchi London, who was part of the team behind the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London in 2012, although as with many such talks, the direct relevance to Seville, along with actionable advice, was lacking.

(From left): Antonio Muñoz, Urban Area Delegate for Seville City Council; Juan Espadas, Seville Mayor; Antonio Jimenez, Director Seville Tourism

  • Impact on the city
  • How can we ensure the impact of tourism on the residents of the city remains positive, ensuring that the city is a living entity, not a ciudad museo?
  • How can we avoid the historic city centre being swamped (and thereby visually affected) by fast food outlets, mini-markets and souvenir stalls (especially prevalent in barrio Santa Cruz in Seville). In Rome, a group of academics has written to the city council asking that a ban be placed on allowing any more such retail outlets in the areas around historic monuments, claiming “the historic identity of the city” is being “damaged”. In Florence, meanwhile, they have insisted that restaurants in historic areas must sell a minimum of 70% locally-sourced food. When the Florentine City Council denied McDonalds permission to open an outlet in the Piazza del Duomo, the fast-food global giant responded by suing the city for $20 million.
  • How do we ensure standards of quality among tour guides, when some (unlicensed ones) are ill-informed and unprofessional?

Other issues

  • What is the best way to make better use of the river Guadalquivir, Seville’s artery, and the area around it? How can the weight of visitors around the monumental area be redirected towards the river? As a port city from where many trading ships left for the New World, the river played a key role in the city’s Golden Age prosperity and power, as well as being the departure point in 1519 for Magellan’s round-the-world voyage. Current plans include the soon-to-be-finished Tourist Information Centre on the Paseo del Marques de Contadero, the riverside area between the Torre del Oro and the Triana Bridge, which will include a scale model showing the geographical relationship between the river and barrios of the city, and also the river-s historical significance. Sadly, the riverside Noria (big wheel) next to the Aquarium was not a success, and is being taken down. In this discussion Manuel Aranha of Porto City Council explained how key the river Douro is to his city’s tourist offering, including being able to travel by river to visit wineries.
  • How can we be more family-friendly – restaurants should provide baby changing tables and hotels baby baths – this was brought up Seville Con Peques, an excellent website on things to do with kids in Seville.

Some illuminating observations from the four days:

  • millennials are more concerned about having good WIFI coverage than a shower where they-re staying
  • being a “destino intelligente” with free WIFI spots is key
  • young Chinese prefer to save their money to travel, than to buy a house
  • 30% of UK travellers list need a list of thing to see, do and eat which they can check off – such as gazpacho and flamenco

In 2016 Spain will have received around 120 million visitors, up from 109m in 2015, with that number set to rise to 150m within the next few years.

Some extremely interesting discussions came out of these talks, and the widely varied but uniformly passionate audience of hoteliers, restaurateurs, taxi drivers, tour guides, rental property owners, tour operators, travel agents, bloggers and others, entered into lively exchanges with the panellists.

The general agreement was that the conference was a major success, although it may have raised more questions that it answered. Which is not necessarily a bag thing, as such broad and fundamental issues are constantly developing and evolving, and need to be addressed in a flexible and creative way.

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Finos Palmas and poetry in a Sevillano palace

November 10, 2016 – 4:10 pm


FINOS PALMAS 2016the finest sherry in a rarefied Sevillano setting


Gonzalez Byass

Pedro Rebuelta of the Gonzalez Byass family, Cayetano Martinez de Irujo, the Casa de Alba, Antonio Flores, Chief Winemaker at Gonzalez Byass


The launch of this year’s Coleccion Finos Palmas, four very special Sherries from the Tio Pepe bodega, chosen by Gonzalez Byass chief oenologist Antonio Flores, took place last week in a suitably unique and historic location: the Palacio de las Dueñas in Seville, home of the late Duquesa de Alba.
A privileged group of guests, including this blogger, was shown around the palace, trying each sherry in a different area of the gardens and patios – accompanied by music and poetry, with the cata led, of course, by Antonio Flores (@hacedordevinos, winemaker, on Twitter). To represent the Casa de Alba, the late Duquesa’s youngest son Cayetano, Duque de Arjona, welcomed the guests from the tree-lined patio in front of the house, which looks more like a country mansion than a grand palace, densely covered with pink bougainvillea.
Standing in front of the façade, Antonio explained that Tio Pepe was Spain’s most international wine, and the most famous from Jerez. He describes it as “pura vida”- pure life, saying that all of these special sherries have to be aged (and blended) – “nothing is done in a rush in Jerez; everything worthwhile takes time”. A very Andalucian sentiment.





Taking a glass of Una Palma from waiters stationed in the stables, we walked through to the famous Patio de los Limoneros, where Antonio Flores read the famous lines by Sevillano poet Antonio Machado, about this very patio in the house where he grew up. “Mi infancia son recuerdos de un patio de Sevilla, y un huerto claro donde madura el limonero.
This is a light sherry, Tio Pepe aged for six years, with a yellowy-golden colour, and a bready, salty taste from the flor (layer of yeast to protect the wine from oxygen) that is typical of fino sherries. It’s also a very dry sherry, ideally served ice-cold at outdoor events in the warm Spanish spring; like all the Palmas, it is unfiltered. Ever the man of words, Antonio described it as “a punch from the sea”. Three barrels of Una Palma have been bottled out of a total of 142 in the solera.
Moving into the magnificent main patio, we tried Dos Palmas – this is slightly darker in colour, with a yeastier taste after eight years of flor, and to me, musty and reminiscent of bodegas (in a good way). Sherry has such a different taste to any other type of wine, it can be tricky to describe without it sounding outright bizarre. Two barrels were chosen from 150 for Dos Palmas. Antonio quoted Luis Cernuda. another Seville-born poet, while a flamenco guitarist played by the central fountain. A palace, flamenco, poetry and extremely fine sherry.
Passing through this patio into the smaller Patio del Aceite (where the palace’s almazara, olive oil mill, was located), the stronger Tres Palmas had a darker, more intense gold colour. This sherry has started to interact with the oxygen, and is bottled from just one barrel out of 150. The flavour is also deeper, with hints of almonds and hazelnuts – a fino almendradado, with a saltier finish, but creamier – “between life and death” as Antonio put it, master of the Andalucian melodrama, meaning at the limit of the biological aging process. He read us another poem: “El Angel de las Bodegas” by Rafael Alberti.
Our final stop was in the Apeadero, where people used to dismount from their carriages. Here Cayetano Martinez de Irujo spoke to the assembled guests, saying that this was a perfect place for the Finos Palmas launch “Va tan bien en este espacio”. We tasted Cuatro Palmas, an old amontillado of 51 years, taken from one of six barrels, which Antonio described “el mejor vino generoso del mundo”.





Mahogany-coloured, this sherry was richer than the previous sherries, and sweeter with scents of walnut and varnish. At 22 degrees, this is a strong wine which packs a punch, albeit an elegant one. “Tan afilado como una saeta” (as sharp as a saeta, a Semana Santa song) said Antonio, referring to the procession that afternoon of Jesus del Gran Poder, the Duquesa’s favourite hermandad, and in whose church her ashes are interred. Cayetano said that he had been both a costalero and nazareno in the procession. It was a nifty way of linking an aspect of Sevillano life so dear to the Duquesa, whose spirit can still be strongly felt within the salons and patios of the palace, and whose identity is firmly imprinted on every tile, stone and leaf.
Pedro Rebuelta Gonzalez, of the family company Gonzalez Byass which produces Tio Pepe, told us that the Finos Palmas, along with Tio Pepe en Rama, the unfiltered version which is launched every spring, were introduced out of need to innovate, and to appeal to a new generation of drinkers. Inspiration was sought in the historical archive of Gonzalez Byass, which includes many labels on which the Finos Palmas design are based, 10,000 bottles, and many thousands of barrels.
Finos Palmas is always produced in consultation with a top oenologist – this year, Master of Wine and Master Sommelier Gerard Basset, one of very people to hold both titles, and co-founder of the UK Hotel du Vin group.
After the four sherries had been presented, we treated to superb dishes – rice with prawns, tuna tataki, prawn pastry nests, ajoblanco (chilled almond soup), adobo (marinated dogfish), and asparagus in batter, among others.  Strategically placed food stations meant that you didn-t have to be constantly hijacking unsuspecting waiters to get some nibbles, as often happens at these events, which made for a much more relaxing eating experience.
You can buy Finos Palmas at Corte Ingles Gourmet Experience and from selected wine merchants.
If you’re a sherry lover, don’t forget it’s International Sherry Week this week, until Sunday 13 November. To find out where events near you are happening, from tastings to pairing menus, visit

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Huelva Capital Española de la Gastronomia 2017

November 1, 2016 – 10:36 am


Huelva CG logo

Huelva CG logo

Huelva CG logo


In a country which takes its food culture as seriously as Spain, to be chosen as Capital Gastronomica (Gastronomic Capital) is an honour indeed. And gastronomy is often quoted as a main reason why visitors choose to come to Spàin for their holidays, whether weekend breaks or summer vacations.

Beating other finalist city Cuenca (Castilla La Mancha), which was also competing to earn the title, Huelva will be Capital Española de la Gastronomia for next year. The city will succeed Toledo, the gastronomic capital for 2016.

The Atlantic port, capital of Andalucia’s western-most province, is often overlooked due to its comparative lack of star attractions – compared to nearby Seville, with its palaces, cathedral and famous tapas culture, Huelva doesn’t even make it onto most tourists’ itineraries.

But as any foodie worth their salt will tell you, this coastal, plain and mountainous province boasts the finest jamon iberico de bellota (acorn-fed cured Iberian ham) in all of Spain, while its ocean waters produce fish and seafood the likes of which is also hard to beat, such as coquinas (small clams), gambas blancas (white prawns), mojama (dried tuna) and choco (cuttlefish) – such is the love of Huelva’s inhabitants for the cephalod that they are known as choqueros.

Further inland you will find the DO Condado de Huelva with young white wines (vino joven), orange wine (vino de naranja), while the town of Lepe is famous for its strawberries

Last year, the city was justifiably proud when it won its first Michelin star – Acanthum, where chef Xanty Elias serves innovative fish dishes, joined the list of 13 illustrious restaurants in Andalucia recognised by this highest accolade. Some of his dishes include choco with yoghurt, and ensaladilla of potatoes, prawns and melva, a type of mackerel.

For more information, and details of activities and events to be announced soon, see Huelva Capital Gastronomica

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Contemporary Photography Show in Seville

October 19, 2016 – 4:16 pm

by Fiona Flores


Eduardo D'Acosta - Curator of the Spin Off Exhibition, The Artists, Michelle Chaplow with the Pool of Life and the facade of the Fundacion Valentin Madariaga (From top, L to R) Eduardo D’Acosta – curator of the Spin Off exhibition, the artists, Michelle Chaplow with the Pool of Life, and the facade of the Fundacion Valentin Madariaga


Seville is not known for its contemporary art scene – Malaga has long had the advantage in that cultural arena, with its excellent Centro de Arte Contemporaneo, or CAC.
So it was gratifying to attend the opening of a photographic exhibition at the Fundacion Valentín Madariaga in Seville, an arts foundation housed in the former US pavilion from the Expo 1929. Read more about the Fundacion de Valentin de Madriaga.

A group of photographers, who have studied the renowned photography course at both the CAC Malaga and in Seville, run by charismatic Eduardo d’Acosta, partly funded by the Foundation, will be showing their work until the 8th January 2017. The course has now been run 10 times since 2010, with over 300 students taking the course; of this total, 30 were chosen for the show, along with 10 guest lecturers from the course. Artists include: Pierre Gonnord – José Manuel Ballester – Juan Manuel Castro Prieto – Miguel Trillo – Luis Baylón – Dionisio González – Bleda y Rosa – Tete Álvarez – Jesús Madriñán – Adela Aguilera – Diego Diez – Laurent Perrot – Rando – Alejandra Vera – Álvaro Trigos – Silvia Torres – Benito Alcón – Cristina Lorenzo – David Villalba – Diana Mingorance – Diego Fajardo – Javier Orive – José Bellido – Gloria Rico – Lía García – Luis Colmenero – Luismi Zapata – Manuel Ibañez – Manuel Viola – MariCarmen Quintana – Michelle Chaplow – Miguel Torés – Naikari – Pía Arrieta – Roberto Cerrato – Frank Gámiz – Violeta Niebla – Silvia Diaz – José Luis Moreno – Juan Carlos Carmona -Esther Pita.

The result is an eclectic mix, with portraits, landscapes, still lifes, architectural shots and abstract studies. One of the 30 chosen photographers, the cream of alumni from the course, is Michelle Chaplow, the award-winning photographer who is a director of

Michelle’s photos were from her series, Pool of Life, which is still a work in progress. The series examines the female form, with naked women in abandoned swimming pools. Her photographs have a dreamy, surreal feel to them, and the creamy texture of the model’s skin, contrasted with the greyish surrounding water, is very striking.

The photos, entitled Hannah, have been recognised in several awards, including honourable mentions at the Black&White Spider Awards, the Photography Masters Cup, an exhibition by the Royal Photographic Society, and in an article by Nikon.


The opening of the Spin Off Exhibition at the Fundacion Valentin Madariaga
The opening of the Spin Off exhibition at the Fundacion Valentin Madariaga – Valentin himself is middle left with Michelle.


The exhibits in the show which were most effective were the groups or series – such as six architectural black and white shots of unusual structures on stilts raised off the ground, whether residential or industrial, in open wasteland. All have a futuristic look, whether 1960s pods, 1980s deconstructions, or timeless egg-shapes. It is left to the viewer to surmise what, or indeed, where, they might be, but these intriguing images certainly fire up the imagination.

Other notable works included Good Night London by Jesus Madriñan, four portraits of young people on a night out in the UK capital. All are staring with a degree of menace and suspicion at the camera, and each holds an iconic item in his or her hand: a mobile phone, a glass, a bottle of beer, a handbag. Two of the girls are scantily clad, wearing only a bra on their top half. As studies of British youth in their natural nocturnal habitat, they are superb. Behind each figure, in the background, you can see other semi-naked young people in the club or pub dancing and talking.

The shades, postures, and the subjects’ disdainful expressions – the intense red hair or blue skirt, the tilt of a head, the knowing look – remind the viewer of classical portraits of religious figures by Sevillano painters such as Velazquez and Zurbaran. They are not embarrassed or self-conscious, but defiant.

You can also see excellent reportage photographs of children in an Africa school, by a Spanish doctor-photographer who works as a missionary in the Third World, and innovative holographic pieces by Manuel Viola Figueras.

The exhibition is spread over seven or eight rooms on the ground floor of the Foundation, around its delightful central courtyard. Well worth the short walk from centre to see this contemporary photography show. Don’t miss the tourist information office next door, in the exquisite Costurero de la Reina, the striped orange and white building on the corner of Avenida de la Palmera and Avenida Maria Luisa, opposite the Los Remedios Bridge. This building is one of those which you drive past many times and admire fleetingly, but rewards the effort of a visit, with its stained glass windows and neo-Mudejar arches.

Foundation Valentin Madariaga is at Avenida Maria Luisa (next to the Biblioteca Infanta Elena), Seville.
Tel 954 366 072
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 10.00 – 14.00, 17.00 – 20.00; Saturday and Sunday 10.30 – 14.30.
Public transport: 6, 34, C1 and C2 pass close by, and both Puerta Jerez and Prado de San Sebastian metro stations are a ten-minute walk away.

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Seville Feria will now last seven days, starting on Sunday

October 4, 2016 – 9:51 am


Qu 1: Seville residents, would you like the Feria to start on a Sunday (so you can have a big night on Saturday)? A: Er, yes please!Qu 1: Seville residents, would you like the Feria to start on a Sunday (so you can have a big night on Saturday)? A2: Er, yes please!


Qu 2: Do you agree that the Feria should always include a holiday? A2: Er, yes please!Qu 2: Seville residents, would you like there to be a holiday during Feria)? A: See above.


Los Remedios, the residential district closest to the recinto (fairground) where the Feria is held, was one of only two areas to vote No to Qu 1, and by a clear margin.
Los Remedios, the residential district closest to the recinto (fairground) where the Feria is held, was one of only two areas to vote No to Qu 1, and by a clear margin. Click on image to enlarge.


With Spanish politics in disarray and the Socialist party imploding, Seville has had more important things on its mind: a referendum on whether the Feria de Abril, or Spring Fair, the city’s annual full-on sherry-fuelled skirt-swishing shindig, should be extended from six to seven days, and start on a Sunday instead of a Tuesday.

The reason? So that people can spend more days at Feria, of course! And no work the day after the big opening night! Not to mention the extra income for the city’s hospitality industry –  a second weekend of visiting feriantes!

The other issue was that the Feria de Abril always needs to have one day minimum in the month of April, to live up to its name – the April Fair. As the Fair always takes place two weeks after Semana Santa (Holy Week) – which falls very late in 2017, from 9 to 16 April – the only way to ensure that one day in April was included in the Feria 2017 was to bring the opening day forward to 30 April, a Sunday.

In terms of the Sevillanos response to the referendum – no prizes for guessing what the residents said. LET’S PARTY LONGER, AND HARDER, STARTING ON A SATURDAY NIGHT, AND WITH A HOLIDAY DURING FERIA TOO! We wouldn’t expect any less from Seville, Andalucia’s fiesta capital.

Around 60% of Seville residents said Yes to Question 1: Do you agree that the Feria should start on Sunday 30 April and finish on Saturday 6 May? The nay-sayers were the residents in the area closest to the Feria recinto (fairground), Los Remedios, of whom almost two-thirds – 63% – voted No. After all, they’re the ones who have to cope with the all-night noise, rubbish and traffic problems during that week, when many streets are closed off to cars – only except buses, taxis and public service vehicles have access to the area around the recinto. Nervion also voted not to extend the length of the Feria.

The second of the two questions which Sevillanos had to answer in the referendum (whose website crashed within minutes of the vote going live; residents could vote in person too) was whether the Feria week should always include a local holiday. This time, it was a no-brainer for most people – over 80% said Yes.

Only a small percentage of the residents listed in the census (those aged over 16 years old) chose to vote in the referendum – just over 40,000 out of nearly 590,000, or almost 7%.

Until now, the first day has officially been Tuesday, with the big first night celebration (before the Feria officially starts) including the alumbrado (turning on of the lights on the entrance gate and around the fairground at midnight), being on the Monday. The fair then lasted for six days, Tuesday to Sunday.

With the new system, the Feria would last one day longer – a eight-day period from from Sunday to Saturday – in 2017, 30 April to 6 May. This means the big alumbrado first night would be a Saturday (29 April) , and will probably last well into Sunday, the first official day. Block it off in your diary!

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Filmoteca revives Andalucian Super-8 home movies

September 23, 2016 – 9:15 am


A new project by La Filmoteca Española aims to collect and digitalise home movies made by Andalucians in the 1960s and 1970s.

The idea behind Proyecto Mi Vida is to create a digital archive of family films, showing regional travel, customs and fiestas to form part of a collective memory – an Andalucian visual heritage.

La Filmoteca Española is an official institution of the Spanish Ministry of Culture, based in Cordoba, whose objective is to restore, investigate and conserve the film heritage of Spain and its diffusion.

You can see children – who would now be in their 40s and 50s, with their own offspring – jumping in the waves on Andalucian beaches, or playing with the dog in their garden. The family’s first-ever plane journey, filmed as they arrive at Barcelona airport. An outing through villages in the interior of one of Andalucia’s provinces – the people, the food; the cousins who came along for the summer holiday…. Family memories which many recorded on Super-8, the most popular format of cine film all those decades ago, and which have been left for years in a forgotten corner of the house.

So Filmoteca is asking Andalucians to search their attics, wardrobes, storerooms, garages (and presumably their parents’, too); find those cardboard boxes hidden under piles of unwanted clothes and books, where family photo albums are stacked, and unearth the recordings which are also hidden away in a dark, dusty spot. Send them to Filmoteca, and their technicians will convert them into a digital format which can be used in today’s devices.

“They are films made by normal citizens recording their lives”, explained Filmoteca director, Pablo García Casado in an interview with El Diario. “They are an important film heritage which tells us about Andalucian life in the 1960s and 1970s.”

The first films have now been converted in this historic fly-on-the-wall project. Each week, La Filmoteca will upload to its YouTube channel short fragments of the films. You can see family beach holidays at Salobreña (Granada), a visit to the wineries in Montilla (Córdoba), family parties, the night of the Reyes Magos (Three Kings, 5 January) at home, and games in the swimming pool. Scenes of daily life – people riding a donkey – a common form of transport back then.

“Anyone who has a Super-8 reel at home can send it to us or email us at, so that these memories don’t get lost,” says García Casado.

In the film clips you can see in the video above, it is fascinating to note how Andalucia’s towns and cities, the region’s coastline and beaches, countryside and roads, looked in those bygone days. It’s also fun to see everything from the cars to clothes and hairstyles of the period. These films are equally entertaining for the next generation of children, to see how their parents’ generation spent their summer vacations, as they are for those who experienced them.

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Personal account of the Cascamorras Festival in Baza

September 16, 2016 – 3:39 pm


Journalist Anastasia Sukhanova and Sarah Gatward with her GoPro were thrilled to run alongside anther 12.000 in the Cascamorras, Baza.

Journalist Anastasia Sukhanova and Sarah Gatward with her GoPro were thrilled to run alongside anther 12.000 in the Cascamorras, Baza.


Personal account of the Cascamorras Festival in Baza


Guest post by Anastasia Sukhanova


6th of September is an important day for Baza – the whole town and its 20.000 inhabitants are brought together for the celebration of the Cascamorras festival. The tradition originates from the 15th century, when an ownership dispute arose over a sacred image of the Virgen de la Piedad (Our Lady of Mercy) between Baza, and its neighboring town, Guadix. Cascamorras was the nickname of a workman from Guadix, who tried to appropriate it for his town, but failed. Ever since, each year on the saint’s day, the newly nominated Cascamorras tries to complete the challenge of reaching the main church of Baza clean in order to take the sacred image back to Guadix. And each year thousands of people smear him (and each other along the way) with black oil – making sure the image of the Virgen stays where it belongs. The crowd, mostly made up of young Spanish people, had already gathered as we drove up the hills on the outskirts of Baza overlooking the town. Read this post in our Baza section.


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Game of Thrones Season 7 to film in Andalucia again

August 22, 2016 – 3:26 pm

The Alcazar as seen in Game of Thrones - the palace of Prince Doran, ruler of the Kingdom of Dorne. (Photo: HBO)The Alcazar as seen in Game of Thrones – the palace of Prince Doran, ruler of the Kingdom of Dorne. (Photo: HBO)

For the third season running, HBO’s globally successful, multi-award-winning fantasy drama series Game of Thrones will be filmed in Andalucia. Season seven will be shot in various locations around the region later this year.

In season five (filmed in October 2014, aired in spring 2015),  some episodes were filmed in the Alcazar Palace of Seville, which stood in for the Water Gardens of Dorne, home of Prince Doran; and the bullring of Osuna which was a fighting pit of Mereen.

Season 6 returned to the Alcazar, as well as the Alcazaba fortress of Almeria - for a bloody deed scene in an early episode, filmed last October and shown in April this year. This was shot in the Patio del Gobernador of the 12th-century Moorish fortress, morphed with the grotto wall in the gardens of Seville’s Alcazar (see on left of above picture). Further locations in the eastern province included the Tabernas Desert.

atarazanas The Atarazanas of Seville – the Royal Shipyards, where Game of Thrones Series 7 will be filmed. Another location for filming Season 7 will be Italica, the Roman site near Seville. Another location for filming Season 7 will be Italica, the Roman site near Seville. Photo: Michelle Chaplow GAme of Thrones will also be filmed at Castillo de Almodovar, a medieval castle in Cordoba province. Game of Thrones will also be filmed at Castillo de Almodovar, a medieval castle in Cordoba province. Photo> Michelle Chaplow

Andalucian locations for this seventh season will include the Atarazanas, the medieval shipyards of Seville, and  the Roman site of Italica in the town of Santiponce close to the regional capital, filming at these two locations will take place at the end of November; as well as the historic riverside settlement of Almodovar del Rio in Cordoba, home to the spectacularly situated castle.

The seventh, and final, season will be aired in summer 2017.

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Dolmens of Antequera win UNESCO World Heritage status

July 30, 2016 – 11:35 am
Map of Dolmens de Antequera (C)Instuto de Estadiscica y Cartografia de AndaluciaMap of Dolmens de Antequera, shown as  small red dots (C)Instituto de Estadistica y Cartografia de Andalucia

As expected, Andalucia’s latest UNESCO World Heritage site was confirmed recently: the Dolmens of Antequera were inscribed on the list earlier this month at the committee meeting in Istanbul.

We’ve mentioned this topic a few times on this blog, from when the idea was first proposed, until more recently when it was almost definite.

The complex consists of five elements: Antequera’s three prehistoric dolmens, plus two mountains towards which the dolmens were built. Together, this combination of millennia-old manmade and natural features presents to visitors an offering of unique archaeological and cultural value.

UNESCO says the dolmens are: “Outstanding examples of megalithic architecture and are amongst the most recognized and quoted in the world.”

The three monuments and two natural rock formations included in the World Heritage site are:

Menga dolmen

Viera dolmen

El Romeral tholos

La Peña de los Enamorados rock

El Torcal mountains


This is from the UNESCO website:

“The properties nominated to be included on the World Heritage List as a series of cultural properties are the Antequera Dolmen sites, an ensemble of megalithic monuments made up of the Menga and Viera dolmens and the tholos of El Romeral. They are outstanding examples of megalithic architecture and are amongst the most recognized and quoted in the world. They are also connected to two first-class landmarks:  la Peña de los Enamorados (Lovers’ Leap) and the mountains of El Torcal, Antequera. They are two mountain formations of outstanding geomorphological make-up which were the focal point for positioning the megalithic monuments; Menga is positioned towards the Peña de los Enamorados, whilst the Tholos de El Romeral is positioned towards El Torcal. Indeed, these natural landmarks themselves hold priceless archaeological sites.

Menga and Viera dolmens are very near to each other, whilst El Romeral is around 1.700 m away from them. La Peñade los Enamorados (Lovers’ Leap) focused from the Menga dolmen, it is 7 km away.  The tholos of El Romeral is the same distance away from El Torcal, which it is positioned towards.”

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

“The Antequera Dolmens have been nominated for their inclusion on the World Heritage Indicative List due to the monumental character of the megalithic constructions, the beauty of the natural formations surrounding them, and the importance of the relationships established during the Neolithic period between the elements of cultural heritage and their natural setting.

It is a culture in which the natural landmarks acquire the value of monuments whilst constructed monuments appear to be part of the natural landscape.

This close liaison between culture and nature is especially apparent in the precise positioning of the megaliths in the architectural site. Also, the relationship between mountains with a sacred or cultural significance and megalithic architecture is outstanding.”

Modifications still to be made

A inspector from International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) visited the site in September last year and produced a list of outstanding points, most of which will take some years to rectify. The site was awarded WH status despite these conditions not being met, as stated at the meeting in May to ratify the nominations. It was felt that granting status would give impetus for the improvements to be funded.

 The improvements requested were:

  • direct access between the dolmens
  • improvement of industrial access to El Romeral
  • reducing the height of the concrete building designed by the Junta as a museum (never opened due to lack of funds), as it blocks the line of site to the Peña – the first floor will be removed
  • a 10km-via verde to be converted from the railway line – but this section will remain in use until the new AVE linking Antequera and Granada is finally completed and active.

This is from the UNESCO statement (which seems to contradict the reason for earlier requests):

“The nomination proposes a wide area which includes the nominated property, the three dolmen sites forming part of the Archaeological Ensemble of the Antequera Dolmens, and a buffer zone made up of visual cones [see map above] which connect them to the aforementioned natural landmarks. 

This area is under the authority of Antequera, a very dynamic city due to its historic role, and at present, it is in a central position for communication in Andalusia.  However, due to this reason, some buildings and infrastructures have recently been built in the visual protection zone, however, they are not tall buildings and they do not hinder the vision of said natural features. This condition, of keeping the vision unhindered, should be maintained in the management of the nominated area.

The buffer zone corresponds to the field of vision from the “Dolmens” to the two natural landmarks [see map above].”

Under the “Integrity” Section

“However, some threats do exist to the landscape of the dolmens today, (connected with the plans for new infrastructures in the surrounding area). Nowadays there are improving plans to correct this situation.”

For more information, see the UNESCO World Heritage List entry on the dolmens here.

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Summer in Seville 2016

July 13, 2016 – 5:23 pm


The night concerts in the Alcazar start on on 14 July.

The night concerts in the Alcazar start on on 14 July.

As the mercury soars into the low 40s (low 100 F), nightlife and cultural activities move outside and upwards – onto terraces, often on rooftops, to catch any possible slight evening breeze; and into gardens, to be near shady green plants and the refreshing sound and temperature-lowering effect of running water. The 17th summer season of outdoor concerts in the Alcazar Palace Gardens, Noches en los Jardines del Real Alcazar,  starts on 14 July, and lasts until 30 September. This is one of the most magical venues for after-dark live music, with the stage in front of the grutesco gallery, under palm trees, on a balmy evening. Arrive early and walk around the gardens – the Alcazar itself lit up is a sight to behold. As usual, the concerts are classified into various genres: old music, classical, flamenco, world, and other.  For the full programme and to book tickets (you can also buy them in person at the Patio de Banderas), see their website. Moving to terraces, a number of which are located on rooftops, a programme called Summer Hotel Time offers the best Seville hotel bars with views – whether of the street, the river, the cathedral, Metropol Parasol (Las Setas), or other picturesque churches and historic buildings – with an accompanying app called Espacios Miticos, which lists all the participating hotels.


Espacios Miticos is the new app for Seville's hotel roof terrace bars.

Espacios Miticos is the new app for Seville’s hotel roof terrace bars.


Sherry on Top – wine and music with a view Part of this summer programme is Sherry On Top, a series of outdoor events incorporating night-time sherry tastings and live music. The first of these concerts is by Las Criaturas, and takes place on 20 July at Hotel Murillo. The rest of the performances, which last until 15 September, are still to be announced – keep an eye on their website. With a Sevilla Summer Hotel Time Card, you get 15% off drinks on the Summer Hotel Time rooftop bars. The card costs 29 euros for adults and 16 euros for children up to 13 years, and includes a panoramic City Sightseeing bus tour, a ride on the Noria de Sevilla (Big Wheel), an Aquarium entry or a Guadalquivir river cruise, 20% discount on Aires de Sevilla arab baths, 20% discount at the Museo del Baile Flamenco and 30% discount at the Palacio del Flamenco. ne euro from each card is donated to the Fundacion Pequeño Deseo ((Spanish Make a Wish Foundation), which helps chronically and terminally ill children to be granted a wish. You can buy the card at City Expert offices on Avenida de la Constitución, Patio de los Naranjos in the Cathedral, Plaza de Armas shopping centre, Metropol Parasol and the Basílica de la Macarena. Hotels taking part ìn Summer Hotel Time are: 5* Gran Melia Colon, Alfonso XIII, Barceló Sevilla, Palacio de Villapanes, EME Catedral; 4* Alcazaba de la Reina (Carmona); Doña Maria, Inglaterra, NH Plaza de Armas, Parador de Carmona, Ribera de Triana, Los Seises by Fontecruz, Sevilla Center, Silken Al-Andalus, TRH Alcora (Mairena del Aljarafe), Vincci Rabida, Alcoba del Rey, Amadeus, Don Paco, Oromana, Patio de la Cartuja, Casas del Rey de Baeza, Murillo. You can also watch outdoor movies, visit outdoor art exhibitions, and attend a wide range of cultural events over the summer taking place in various spaces all over the city, such as 21 Grados and Asomate al Patio. Pick up one of the widely-available free listings magazines, such as La Giraldilla, for the latest details, or visit their website. For details about an unusual summer theatre festival in the Alpujarra mountains (Granada province), see the previous blog post.


Las Criaturas - Sherry Concert

Las Criaturas – Sherry Concert

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