Sueños de España

(Dreams of Spain)

Orange tree blossoms

Oranges grow along the streets of Seville

I recently had my dna analyzed for genealogical purposes. I have since uploaded my raw data results to other platforms that each process it in a slightly different way. All venues suggest that I have a significant portion of dna that indicates forebears from the Iberian Peninsula. The only link that I know of that I have to Spain is back to my 21st great-grandmother Eleanor (Leonor in Spanish) de Castile & Leon, Queen to King Edward I of England., which is too far distant to produce a dna result.

Whoever my Iberian ancestors were, I wasn't surprised that my test indicated some connection with Spain, because when I went to study in Spain in 1985 I felt weirdly at home there almost instantaneously. When I first walked the winding streets of Sevilla, I almost knew what was around every corner, it felt so familiar. I quickly came to love this second home and still "miss" it as though I'd lived there much longer than I actually did... in this life, anyway!

Sevilla: La Ciudad de mi Corazón

(Seville: city of my heart)

La Giralda, Sevilla, Spain

Statue of San Fernando, King Ferdinand III of Spain, my great x24 Grandfather

The abiding symbol of the city of Sevilla, la Giralda is the bell tower of the Cathedral of Sevilla, largest Gothic cathedral in the world. La giralda combines Moorish and Spanish styles of architecture and design, making it quintessentially Spanish. The muslim Moors occupied much of Spain, including Sevilla for hundreds of years before King Fernando III (more about him below) re-captured the city for Spain, a triumph for the catholic faith which eventually earned him sainthood.

King Fernando III's Coat of Arms, uniting the Spanish kingdoms of Castile and León

This monument to San Fernando is located in la Plaza Nueva, in Sevilla, Spain.

¡Quién no ha visto a Sevilla, no ha visto maravilla!

(if you haven't seen Seville, you have missed a marvel!)

Sevilla: Ciudad de mi Corozón

In 1985, as a college student, I spent January to June studying in Seville, Spain. I loved this city from my first day there, and it grew on me with the passing weeks and months. I have been back once, in 2002, for a two-week visit, and dream of the day I will return again. Seville always seemed somehow familiar to me, and I do believe that my ancestors were with me there. Sevilla is forever la ciudad de mi corazón!

Torre del Oro

My favorite place to sit and study was along the Guadalquivir River, within sight of this tower. Called the Torre del Oro, it was originally sort of a customs stop for ships returning from the New World after Columbus' discovery. I used to sit on a park bench, under swishing palm trees, and gaze out at the river and imagine the ships, colorful banners flying, making their way slowly up the river. I could almost see them in my mind's eye. It was such a pleasant place. The smell of bricks, hot under the Spanish sun is one that will never leave my mind.

Leonor's parents, el Principe Felipe of Spain, and la Princesa Letizia

The present Royal Family of Spain has chosen to use the name Leonor for the Infanta, daughter of Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia.

Young Leonor is second in line to the Spanish throne, after her father.

On my last visit to Sevilla, I purchased a little Torre del Oro, made into an incense burner. It sits on my fireplace mantel, and is one of my most treasured posessions.

The Cathedral of Seville

The Cathedral of Seville, the largest gothic cathedral in the world. I will never forget the sensation of entering the cathedral - an instant transformation from the bright sun and heat of the plaza where the entrance is located, to the cool, quiet darkness of the cavernous interior. It always took a few moments to allow my eyes to adjust to the light change, and my senses to absorb the reverent ambiance of this magnificent place.

Barrio Santa Cruz

my favorite section of Sevilla

Santa Cruz is a neighborhood located behind the cathedral in central Seville. It was once occupied by Seville's population of Jews, before the Judaism was outlawed. Most of them fled the country in fear of the Inquisition. It is today the most charming area of the city, with the changing sun and shadow of its narrow winding streets, opening to quaint tiled plazas with splashing fountains or statues and park benches.

Santa Cruz is dotted with dozens of tiny bars, most offering a variety of "tapas", a typical Spanish form of appetizers, or small meals, as well as beer and wine at very reasonable prices. It seems that around almost every corner you can stop for refreshment at a different establishment, sometimes encountering a "tuna" or group of musicians wandering the streets and stopping to play flamenco-style guitar and sing gypsy songs for lucky by-standers.

La tuna, a traveling group of musicians who spontaneously serenade passers by or patrons in bars, restaurants and outdoor cafés. Below is a video of a "tuna", playing late into the Spanish summer night. Some tunas are large groups like this one, but others are just two or three singers/players together.

Plaza de España

At the center of Parque María Luisa, the Plaza de España is another spot known to attract families, strolling on a Sunday. Built to house the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929, this gorgeous plaza features elaborately tiled bridges over the fountain-fed waterway, and more exquisite tile work along the walls and pavilions of the brick structure. Orange trees and palms grace the plaza, and it has a distinct moorish feel to it. It is one of my favorite places in Sevilla, especially in spring, when orange blossoms scent the air and swirl around your feet like blowing snowflakes.

Maria Luisa Park

Sevilla lies in southern Spain, where heat can be a problem, especially in the summer months. The perfect escape from the city heat lies right within the heart of the city itself: Parque María Luisa (Maria Luisa Park). Here, you'll find acres of lush green walkways, splashing fountains, and broad plazas with ice cream vendors and horses & buggies waiting to give passengers a ride through the park.

María Luisa is the usual place where the families of Sevilla find rest, relaxation and family time on a Sunday afternoon. It is customary for families to spend time together on Sundays, visiting places such as María Luisa and strolling with spouses and children or sweethearts, enjoying a leisurely afternoon. You will see them, usually dressed in Sunday best, taking in the warm Spanish sun, or strolling along the shaded paths.

Plaza de Toros de Sevilla

(Seville Bull Ring)

Semana Santa

(Holy Week)

The bull ring in Sevilla is perhaps the most famous in the world, being located in Andalucía, the heart of the bull fighting tradition. Yes, it is a blood sport, and it can certainly be classified as cruelty to animals. But, I did attend several corridas (Spanish word for bull fight, though it's not known as a "fight" in Spain, it is considered more of an art, such as a drama or a ballet than a "sport") and found them to be curiously riveting. And yes, it's true that they do yell "Olé!" every time the torrero (bull fighter) makes a good pass.

To mitigate some of the barbarism of this tradition, if the bull does "win" - if he kills the torrero - he is allowed to live out his life, procreating and feeding at pasture. In addition, the meat from bulls that are killed in the corrida is traditionally donated to the poor.

The tide of public opinion has slowly been turning in favor of eliminating bull fighting from Spain, and while it will be good fortune for the bulls, it will nevertheless be a great loss to the ancient culture and character of Spain.

Spain is a deeply catholic country, and it is never more evident than during Semana Santa, or Holy Week. Beginning on Palm Sunday, and continuing until Easter, the streets of downtown Seville are clogged with people, watching the impressive spectacle of the Holy Week processions. The different churches throughout Seville mount the religious statues that adorn their sanctuaries on huge floats, which are carried through the streets. ost depict Mary, Jesus on the cross, or both. The city closes down business in reverence as these amazing floats slowly wend their way through the throngs, along the winding streets.

During daytime, confetti is often a feature of the processions, and at night the statues are illuminated by candlelight.

Here is a nice video of Sevilla that shows many of the places around the city that we have looked at here, including the cathedral and Giralda, María Luisa Park, and Plaza de España, as well as some shots of a "Semana Santa"/Holy Week procession.

The processions

take place at

night as well as

during the day.

Spanish Cuisine

There is not enough space here to give the cuisine of Spain its proper justice, so I will simply highlight those dishes and foods that are most memorable to me from my time living in Sevilla.

An early morning treat, wonderful on chilly days in January— "chocolate con churros". The churros are like pieces of fried dough, which you dip in a cup of chocolate, much thicker than hot chocolate here. What a wonderful way to wake up and meet the day!

The bread in Spain, called "pan", is hearty and chewy. Plain rolls, such as these, are eaten with coffee for breakfast and with each meal. Butter is not used much on bread. Instead, the Spanish often dip their bread in olive oil that has been flavored with herbs. It's addicting!

The señora in whose home I stayed while in Spain (Encarna) used to make me a tortilla for lunch or a late dinner. (they eat dinner at about 11 pm) Different from Mexican tortillas, a Spanish tortilla is made of eggs and cooked in olive oil, like a well-done omelette. I like mine with potatoes, onion and cheese, served with the fresh homemade mayonnaise with lots of garlic that my hostess used to make! Delicioso!

No discussion of Spanish food could possibly leave out "tapas", the small dishes, similar to appetizers, that the Spanish enjoy while in a bar having a glass of wine or beer (or two). Tapas can be as simple as a slice of bread and a piece of cheese, or as fancy as smoked salmon with an elaborate sauce. They are purchased one at a time as the afternoon or evening goes on.

And, of course, the Spanish are avid wine drinkers. Their red wines are superb, often made into sangría with a variety of fruits and chilled for refreshment on a hot Spanish afternoon. Sherry is another specialty, called "jerez", it comes from the region of Jerez, also located in Andalucía.


And, of course, the Spanish are avid wine drinkers. Their red wines are superb, often made into sangría with a variety of fruits and chilled for refreshment on a hot Spanish afternoon. Sherry is another specialty, called "jerez", it comes from the region of Jerez, also located in Andalucía.


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