Just to the west of Seville’s city centre, across the Guadalquivir river, lies Triana. This former working class neighbourhood was once home to the Escuela de Mareantes (School of Navigation) which instructed many of the famous sailors of the 15th and 16th centuries. Both Columbus and Magellan studied there before their expeditions in search of new worlds. It is famous too for its tradition of ceramic tile work and its unique style of flamenco.
Today Triana retains its distinct identity. Neighbourhood bars nestle up against beautiful old churches; arches reveal intriguing glimpses of the houses beyond; ornate signs created with ceramic tiles celebrate those who lived here before.
One morning of our stay in Seville (a rather grey, drizzly morning) we enjoyed a walk through some of its many picturesque streets with lots of photo opportunities. One of the first places we passed was an interesting old building which reminded me a little of London mews streets. It had obviously been carefully restored, as a majolica panel near the entrance showed. I learned later that this is a traditional corral or communal home, once very typical of this district. Wikipedia describes it as, ‘a building organised around a patio with a central fountain, the occupants living in individual rooms that open to the communal patio’. These corrales were traditionally the homes of the large Romany population of Triana but only a few now remain. They are strictly protected and, I got the impression, rather gentrified.
Iglesia de Santa Ana
I had wanted to visit the church of Santa Ana; however it was hosting a succession of baptisms so we could only look around a small area near the back of the church. But we enjoyed seeing everyone dressed up in their finery. The church is arguably the oldest in Seville, the first Christian church built from scratch in Seville after it was reconquered from the Moors in 1248. It was built on the orders of King Alfonso X the Wise in 1266. He dedicated it to the mother of the Virgin Mary in gratitude for her miraculous intercession in curing his eye disease.
Of course the church has undergone several major rebuilds and restorations since then, most significantly after the Lisbon earthquake of 1st November 1755, when it was given a Baroque makeover. On a small altar tucked away near the entrance I found statues of Santa Rufina and Santa Justa, Christian martyrs who were potters from Triana. These saints are often depicted with the Giralda tower, which they are said to have saved during the earthquake.
Dodging a shower we had coffee in a bar in the small square opposite the church, busy with locals and families awaiting their turn for a baptism ceremony.
Then we carried on walking along Calle Pureza. This street runs parallel to the river one block away from its western bank, and is full of interest. We spotted a number of commemorative tile panels, paying tribute to famous former residents, such as those I shared in my recent post about Seville’s majolica tiles tradition.
Capilla de los Marineros
A little way along we came to the Capilla de los Marineros. As with the church of Santa Ana, a baptism prevented us from going inside. But I did grab one shot from the street. This Chapel of the Sailors houses a statue of the Virgen de la Esperanza (Our Lady of Hope), the patron saint of Triana’s sailors. With my camera on full zoom I managed to get a photo of her too, through the open door. The statue is traditionally attributed to the 19th century Juan de Astorga.
This was also a good area for street photography, especially people waiting around for other baptism ceremonies. I haven’t been able to find out why so many ceremonies were happening on this one day. Was it a coincidence? Are there always this many on a Saturday? Or is there something especially propitious or significant about this date (20th November)?
Around the Mercato Triana
At the end of the road we came across a small chapel, the Capilla Virgen del Carmen. I was struck by its interesting architecture. It stands by the Puente de Triana and was built in the 1920s after an earlier chapel had to be knocked down during improvements to the bridge and road widening outside the nearby market. It is constructed with brick and Triana ceramics and consists of a small domed chapel and taller octagonal bell tower.
We didn’t attempt to go into the chapel but instead visited the indoor Mercato Triana next-door. I love a market wherever we travel; they always provide good photo opps and an insight into local food culture. Here we found stalls arranged according to the produce they sold; there was fish and seafood in one section, meat in another, vegetables in yet another. Everything looked of the best quality. Each stall was numbered and named on a blue majolica sign at the top.
Emerging at the far end of the market we found ourselves in a small square. In it stands a monument that pays tribute to the various traditions of Triana: pottery, ceramic work and flamenco. Examples of local pottery in the form of colourful plates hung on the wall above, under another traditional tile panel known as the Christ of the Three Falls, very popular all over Seville.
This monument to the traditions of Triana seems a fitting point at which to end our walk, shared (belatedly) for Jo’s Monday Walks.
I visited Seville in November 2021