December 3rd, 2011
What exactly is Duende?
Well, I guess whatever it means to you…a good feeling, the magical spirit of a place, an embodiment of character, and the name given to the soul of Flamenco – when the singer gets carried away on the soul of the song – a word that sums up special Spain.
Seville. Simply one of the most special cities in Spain. Whether you´re visiting for the Cathedral, the Royal Palaces, other tourist attractions of Seville or just to soak up the sun in the `Frying Pan´ of Spain – then take an afternoon in the district of Triana – and discover your own Duende!
What´s in a name?
Triana was once exclusively the gypsy quarter of Seville.
Don´t expect fancy today – it´s still more working class than 5 star tourist class but I always like to explore the edgier side of a city, especially when it comes to music and you can be assured of a `real´evening rather than a staged event for tourists only.
Your first view will be of tightly packed houses filled with flower pots and chairs outside, Trianeros talking on a balmy evening- a real sense of community.
And the name Triana? Well, lots of meanings abound but I like the one directly translating from the latin Trans Amnem - those beyond the river – in this case the river Guadalquivir and, yes, there is a definite feel of a people that want to be different, separate from the rest of Seville.
Getting to Triana
Follow the river along to the bridge named the Puente de Isabel II, built in 1854 and one of the icons of the area. Both the bridge and the Moorish chapel next to it have been declared National Monuments since 1976. Stroll on to the square of Plaza del Altozano. Admire the Miradore balconies and swathes of flowers there, but also the monument to the famous bullfighter Juan Belmonte.
A clear clue that once the area was awash with bullfighters, flamenco dancers, Romany Gypsies and singers - a general cultural overload!
Down Jacinto street and on to the church of the same name, also nearby is another church, the Iglesia de Santa Ana, founded in the 1200´s and also considered by the locals to be the Cathedral of Triana . This is due to the font that you will find inside. When a local child is baptized here then they are bestowed the gift of flamenco song forlife – a little optimistic but also, of course, you must believe it in order for it to work!
Potty for Triana
With all the cheap crockery made in the Far East these days, we seem to have forgotten the art of the Potter.
Luckily Andalucía still keeps this art and trade alive, and in many villages you will still find local pottery with specific designs indigenous to the area. often inexpensive, and as pretty to hold and look at as it is decorative and useful. Not to mention great souvenirs…?
Triana is still one of these centres and here you will find workshops where you can visit and see the goods being made and fired, as well as buy the finished item. Also, and one of my favourites, replicas of the tiles that are so recognizable of this area form the centuries gone by, the Azulejos, colourful tiles, painted and glazed and so reminiscent of the Moors. Just placed randomly in a white wall or into a plain table top they add colour and interest.
Visit the Fabrica Ceramica de Santa Ana and pick up all your souvenir and future DIY wants!
Of course, that´s flamenco.
What visit to Andalucía would be complete without a little flamenco? – the steady clapping, the swirl of skirt, the proud dancers with clacking heels faster than you can see and the sad mournful voice of the song – the poetry of flamenco.
Other countries may have traditional dance, indigenous music but nowhere has the passion of Spain. Anywhere in Seville you will find the choreographed shows, usually staged by restaurants and bars, in peak tourist season they are without a doubt the crowd pleasers.
But head into Triana and see the real thing. Wait until the last minute, even just a day before and a hand written poster will tell you where and when – or ask around and find out the location – normally a little out of the way bar, nothing fancy – maybe even just a meeting place or a room.
Prepare to be completely entranced. You will get totally taken along witht he song and the music – and may even find yourself joining in!
Best known places in Triana?
La Madrugá – Calle Salado
La Nuestra – Calle Betis 31 – also the street for Discos and other clubs, late and noisy!
Casa Anselma – Calle Pagés del Corro
La Taberna – Calle Duarte 3
Worth mentioning is that almost all of these venues will be free admission but there will be an obligatory drink to buy and they´re usually not shy about asking you to order it!
It might be a long night!
What about a tapas crawl beforehand? The best way to gain an insight into the different types of bar in a city like Seville is to go with someone in the know. Nothing worse than spending a night somewhere only to discover the in place to be was just around the corner. If there´s a tapas in Seville expert then it is Shawn Hennessy who lives there and will be happy to give you a gastronomic guide to the best places and the most tempting tapas! She can be reached easily through her Twitter account if you fancy giving it a try.
What can you expect to taste?
Little plates of tasty morsels such as:
- Patatas Bravas – cubed potato with a fiery salsa or a bowl of piquant Alioli to dip
- Setas – wild mushrooms, sometimes floured and deep fried
- slivers of Jamón – cut so thinly you can read your newspaper through it!
- Vinegary capers and olives in brine
- Quails eggs, served on a little round of toasted Barra de Pan.
- Red peppers roasted in oil, flavoured with garlic
- Bacalao – salt dried cod – cooked juicy and fat
and on it goes…you can traipse around all night and never get bored of the endless little bars…happy sampling!
And of course after all that walking, food and dancing you´ll need a comfortable spot to lay your weary head and sore feet! Here are some featured holiday homes in Seville – the only difficult part about arranging your next holiday is the choice! But that´s not too much of a hardship now, is it?!