from a second-hand engine to a rubber plant here. It takes place beyond the historic town square, or Plaza Mayor (itselfwell worth investigation — beneath its foundations are some of the city’s oldest taverns).
Madrid is a good base for visits to Toledo (El Greco’s house is there), Segovia and the stunning Escorial
La Cibeles in Madrid
monastery, but more than anything it is a place for socialising. Eat in the small, shoddy-looking restaurants which offer an excellent set menu for about £3, and try the bars and clubs around the centre — Malasaﬁa, Chueca, Plaza de Santa Ana. Don’t even think about going out before 11am, or getting to sleep before Sam. NO one else does. (Miranda France)
Fighting for ﬂamenco
In Seville, Arabic and Spanish lntluences combine to create an architecture and atmosphere which make it one oi Europe’s most breath-taking cities. The legacy oi more than 500 years at Arab rule (711-1248) is mostly evident in the Giralda minaret (as potent a symbol oi Seville as the Eiiiel Tower is at Paris) irom which you get a iantastic view oi the city. The Alcazar, or Palace, actually built alter the Spanish reconquest, also kept an Arab iniluence in its architecture and, although usually iull oi tourists, is quite spectacular.
ln medieval times, Seville was Europe’s largest city, the port irom which settlers leit tor South America, and it retains a ilavour oi those times. The cathedral - one at the biggest in the world - boasts a large shrine to Columbus and rooms tull oi the gold and silver spoils oi conquest. To the visitor, Seville comes closer than anywhere else to picture-postcard Spain; perhaps this is the only part oi the country where bulltighter: and llamenco singers are loved with a greater passion than American iilmstars. When a lamous bulltighter and a lamous llamenco singer got
married ten years ago, the city erupted '
into celebration. Later a bulltighter who had been convicted oi plotting to murder his adulterous wlie, was unanimously ‘torglven’ by Sevilllan ailcionados who still believed, at heart, the old Spanish maxim which
World-wide image torSeville
gave a man the right to kill an unialthiul wile.
Walk through the streets and you oiten hear llamenco being sung; in bars
; you see people dancing ‘Sevlllanas'. I Above all, Seville is lamous ior its Holy I
Week celebrations, in which huge statues oi the Virgin Mary, dressed in
, exquisite gowns and bedecked with ilowers, are carried around the city on
heavy mahogony platforms by throngs oi ‘penitentes’, sometimes bareioot. It is a sight which has to be seen to be believed - in tact the otiicial tourism brochure simply describes it as ‘imposslbe to describe’.
Seville probably stands to change the
- most irom next year’s events; tourism
' has already put paid to some oi its : charm and the EC may slowly eradicate
some at the more entrenched Southern
.: values oi the people (perhaps even
bullilghtlng7). 0n the other hand, it will bring money to Spain’s poorest region
I; - already there are iewer beggars in
the streets than there were. Can Seville handle the crowds? The Expo 92 pamphlet currently circulating claims that ‘80 per cent ol humanity’ will be taking part in the cultural iestlval next
year. . . I must be one oi the 20 per cent
who won't be going. (Miranda France)
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The List 22 November ~ 5 December 1991 77