A walk with a lot of art through the Santa Cruz neighborhood of Seville

In the shade of the orange trees, Seville shines full of orange blossom perfume.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
23 May 2023 Tuesday 22:55
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A walk with a lot of art through the Santa Cruz neighborhood of Seville

In the shade of the orange trees, Seville shines full of orange blossom perfume. From the flowery patios comes the sound of the fountains and a light breeze filters like holy water through the motley streets. This is what the Santa Cruz neighborhood has, that heart of narrow streets that trace the historic heart: nothing, not even the heat, can eclipse its beauty.

In this sort of labyrinth hides the Jewish quarter wrapped in its own legends. Massacres, revenge and riots. Stories that took place in this framework that gives way to the monumental landmarks of the Andalusian capital: the cathedral with the iconic Giralda, the former minaret of the Almohad mosque, and the Reales Alcázares, which were the home of the Arab bosses and, after the Reconquest, of the Spanish monarchs. Between the two, beautifully decorated, rests a row of carriages ready for the ride.

Tourism is boiling, of course, in this part of the city. But suddenly the neighborhood surprises with a solitary passage like Calle Verde, so called because of the vault that makes up its abundant vegetation. Or with a square like the one in Santa Marta, an oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle where you can only hear the birds singing. Here, in an old house facing a 16th century transept, a plaque recalls that, within these walls, Sister Ángela de la Cruz consecrated her life to the poor.

The best way to get lost in the Jewish quarter (because this is the only way, aimlessly, to approach this walk) is by crossing the Patio de las Banderas and, from one of its angles, going through a passageway. This is how you come face to face with the intricate streets. The most colorful: that of Water, in which the verses of Luis Cernuda sing of an immense magnolia tree with "the snowy flakes of its flowers."

In Santa Cruz, love assails around any corner. The one with Carmen immortalized in Bizet's opera, which has some locations in this neighbourhood. That of Don Juan Tenorio de Zorrilla, a tireless conqueror who, according to the story, was born in one of these passages "without anyone taking advantage of him at stake, in battles or in love." Also the Callejón del Beso (which, in reality, is Calle Reinoso), in which the narrowness encourages cuddling and caring, gossips say that even from balcony to balcony.

Meanwhile, surprises come to pass. Like those that are hidden in what was, back in the 17th century, the Hospital de los Venerables: a patio in the purest Andalusian style, a church (deconsecrated) that treasures what many compare (worth the exaggeration) with the Sistine Chapel , and two exhibition halls, one with contemporary art and the other with surprising jewels by Velázquez, Murillo and Zurbarán.

Going through this microworld involves taking in the fresh air in the leafy gardens of Murillo, presided over by two immense ficuses, to which Rosina's beautiful balcony looks out from one of its flanks. And also for entering their churches (San Bartolomé and Santa María la Blanca) to discover that they are converted synagogues.

But, more than a mere postcard, the Santa Cruz neighborhood is also the place where you can get the most out of Sevillian leisure. Starting with the one that has to do with the palate, which is the one that conquers the fastest. To do this, sooner or later, all you have to do is end up in the mythical Mateos Gago street with its succession of bars, restaurants and terraces. Here, where the idea of ​​the happiest Seville materializes, the animation lasts until nightfall. Just to give a few examples, we will mention the premises Casa Tomate, Álvaro Perejil or the classic among the classics: the Bodega Santa Cruz, better known as Las Columnas, famous for its delicious pringá montaíto.

There is, however, a restaurant that definitely breaks with the weight of tradition. It's called Kinu and, with its commitment to raising Japanese gastronomy to the highest level, it has caused a tsunami on the culinary scene. For something it has the first omakase bar in Seville and the second in Andalusia. This means that the diners put themselves in the hands of the itamae, who is the chef who decides, depending on the raw material, the passes of a tasting menu that is an unforgettable experience.

Always adapted to seasonality, the lobster with yuzukosho butter; shrimp marinated in salt, sake and palo cortado (with its roe and crispy head), or scallop with saikyō miso sauce (with its coral gratin) are some of the delicacies that come out of this omakase bar, where there is no shortage the otsumami (Japanese starters), the niguiris made with various cuts of fish and other surprising recipes such as the Andalusian-style dashi soup. And for those who prefer to eat à la carte, the room has ten tables where you can taste classic Japanese dishes.

Kinu, belonging to the Seville restaurant group La Bombonera Group, is the latest gastronomical cry in the Santa Cruz neighborhood. And it is also a pilgrimage mecca for sake lovers, since it has expert sommeliers in this unknown drink to break with the traditional concept that is held. The glasses, the temperature and the nuances matter as much as in the wine. To prove it, they have up to 50 varieties and carry out personalized tastings that adapt to the tastes of the client.

This emblematic district also shows that it knows modernity in the hotels. There are many offers, but none like Los Seises, which is precisely inaugurating a new stage with the total remodeling of its facilities. And it is that, in this four-star, located in the archiepiscopal palace, you can start the day with a select breakfast in El Invernadero, framed by Roman, Almohad and Baroque ruins, and end it on the Pura Vida rooftop, where the early morning stretches out with jazz concerts and nods to urban art. You can also enjoy a flamenco tablao in a very close environment and, without going out, have a cosmopolitan cocktail at the Sherry

All of this, of course, together with the privilege of literally sleeping next to the Giralda. For this there are its bright rooms that, the result of this alleged union of the classic and contemporary, preserve the elements of the palace, but with the comfort of our days. Some have a private terrace from which there are incredible views of the Seville skyline.

Los Seises transcends its hosting function to establish itself as a meeting point where things always happen. Contributing to this, in addition to its bon vivant spirit, is the new opening of El Patio de Pali, an Andalusian bistro advised by the popular chef Andrés Madrigal. Here we not only find an exquisite menu in which a fun twist is given to traditional recipes (Andalusian ratatouille with pink tomato and live lettuce or Cádiz pork rinds with tonnato sauce) but also the very essence of the Santa Cruz neighborhood with its orange trees, its fountains and their vegetation. If, however, the heat is pressing, the hotel has a swimming pool open throughout the year.