After YEARS of restoration work the beautiful Plaza de España reopened this past weekend. I waited until Monday to check it out and tried to recreate the first time I ever saw the place, back in September 1993. I’d seen it on my map so I knew it was a semi-circular building and I’d read that it was designed by Anibal Gonzalez and built as the Spanish pavillion for the 1929 Ibero-American Expo, but nothing had prepared me for what I saw when I turned the corner of the North Tower…

And no, my photos do not even begin to do it justice. Against a bright blue Andalusian sky, with the massive central fountain sparkling in the sunlight, the sheer beauty of the tilework and the architecture left me quite gobsmacked and I remember wishing I’d been with someone so I could go “oh wow, look at that!”. Well, Nog and I wandered over after lunch on Monday and, while it wasn’t quite like the first time, it was still a site to behold. The canal has been restored and people were milling around on little rowboats, crashing into each other all over the place, which gave a few minute’s amusement. Though I did wonder why there weren’t any ducks. There used to be ducks. And then we did a quick walk-by of the tiles. Or I should say, The Tiles.

Back in 1929 (well, no doubt much earlier) various local ceramic artists were commissioned to create large tile panels depicting a significant historical event in each of the 48 provinces of Spain – and they truly are lovely works of art. Back in 1993 they seemed in pretty good nick to me, as did all the other ceramic doo-dahs all over the plaza, so it came as a surprise a few years later to see everything so damaged. Whether due to accumulative wear and tear or (most likely) a surge in vandalism, the city stepped in after the plaza started looking quite sad and run-down and began a massive restoration project.  Other changes were made, such as the whole plaza is now closed off at night by huge gates at either end of the (now pedestrianised) Isabel la Catolica street, and major improvements were made to the canal (which had been deteriorating for years).

Overall it was lovely to see the plaza back to its previous glory, but I could see various “improvements” that seemed to me like gilding an already massively gilded lily (like, a whole whack of new tacky looking ceramic lamposts). Not complaining though. It’s still a breathtaking site and one I hope to visit more often, now that it’s not all blocked off by construction. Might even inspire me to start doing park walks again…

[also posted on the Sevilla Blog]