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36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel gerrydawesspain.com

"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life. . .” - - Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019

6/28/2022

Sevilla, Retracing Steps Part Two: Iglesia de San Gil A Remarkable Walk From El Arco de la Macarena to the Cathedral Featuring a Half Dozen Mudéjar-and-Gothic Churches Built on the Sites of Former Mosques in the 14th Century

 
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Gerry Dawes, Road Warrior, El Arco de la Macarena, Sevilla, June 2021.

 

 
El Arco de la Macarena, Sevilla.   

Since my first entry into Sevilla through El Arco (or La Puerta) de la Macarena in 1968, I have gone back to retrace my steps partially, in April 2016 and again in June 2021 and April 2022, always beginning with breakfast in Bar Plata, one of my favorite places in Sevilla. 

 

I love to begin my explorations from the north end of Sevilla at Bar Plata, whose wonderful mural in azulejos shows how the northern walls of the city and the Macarena gate entrance looked in the past. 

Sometimes I start with a plate of churros and a cup of thick hot chocolate to dip the churros in, often spiked with a shot of Spanish Brandy de Jerez.

The first of the gótico-mudéjares churches on the modern-day calle San Luís—the old Roman cardo maximo, the main north-south calzada or roadway through, also the city´s main road in the Moorish epoch, is the 13th century la Iglesia de San Gil Abad. It was likely an important mosque just inside the Moorish gate (In Arabic, Bab Macarana; now la Puerta de la Macarena or El Arco de la Macarena) that was the northern entrance to Sevilla and is the gate where I made my unlikely entrance into the city with my Navy buddy and errant navigator Tom Sims for the first time in 1968.  

Iglesia de San Gil Abad, Sevilla.

From 1643 until 1949, San Gil was the seat of the Brotherhood of la Virgen de la Macarena, until the much newer (1949) Basilica de la Macarena was built to be the home of the most venerated Virgen of Sevilla. San Gil is the main church, the more famous basilica is connected to it by a passageway.  San Gil dates from the second half of the 13th Century and was one of the first Christian churches built after the conquest of Sevilla (in 1248) by Fernando III de Castilla (el Santo). It is one of several so-called alfonsino Gothic-Mudéjar churches built under Fernando’s son, Alfonso X El Sabio, after his father died in the Alcázar in 1252. 
 

 Iglesia de San Gil Abad, Sevilla.
 
Since the Moorish architecture pre-dates Gothic, maybe the description should be Mudéjar-Gothic. Many of these churches still have the minarets that belonged to the mosques that they were built under 12th & 13th centuries Almohade rule, with La Giralda tower (built 1184–1198) of the Cathedral of Sevilla being the most prominent example. Though Gothic architecture pre-dominates as a style in these churches, it is the Moorish remnant that make them distinguished. When Fernando I conquered Sevilla after a 16-month siege, he expelled the entire Moorish population of the city, allowing them to leave only with the possessions they could carry.  The complete expulsion did not last long and Moorish craftsmen and other skilled workers begin to return to the city. 
 
Some the Islamic architecture along this route show the remnants of former mosques, others were built by conquered Moorish builders, thus are Mudéjar, i. e. built by Moorish architects, builders and masons working under Christian rule. Further complicating this mélange of Islamic, Mudéjar and Christian Gothic styles are later Renaissance and Baroque additions, which make some of the conglomerate buildings seem as if they were built by Rube Goldberg-esque designers. A powerful earthquake in 1356 hit the remaining Islamic structures hard, destroying several of them. Some were rebuilt in the same style, thus they are truly Mudéjar and not purely Almohade Islamic in origin. San Gil’s architectural origins as a mosque can be seen at the base of the Mudéjar tower. The rest of the tower, which dates to the 13th century mosque, was remodeled and restored in the 18th century, which left it with little of its original Islamic character.
 
San Gil Abad, Sevilla.
 
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(Available at Amazon, Despana (NYC), LaTienda.com, La Boca Restaurant (Santa Fe, NM) and at Kitchen Arts & Letters bookstore (NYC). 
 
Comments are welcome and encouraged.
 
Text and photographs copyright by Gerry Dawes©2021.  Using photographs without crediting Gerry Dawes©2021 on Facebook.  Publication without my written permission is not authorized.
 
Help Support Gerry Dawes's Spain & Its Content

If you enjoy these blog posts, please consider a contribution to help me continue the work of gathering all this great information and these photographs for Gerry Dawes's Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel. Contributions of $5 and up will be greatly appreciated. Contributions of $100 or more will be acknowledged on the blog.

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  Shall deeds of Caesar or Napoleon ring
More true than Don Quixote's vapouring?
Hath winged Pegasus more nobly trod
Than Rocinante stumbling up to God?
 
Poem by Archer M. Huntington inscribed under the Don Quixote on his horse Rocinante bas-relief sculpture by his wife, Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington,
in the courtyard of the Hispanic Society of America’s incredible museum at 613 W. 155th Street, New York City.
 ______________________________________________________________________________________
 Gastronomy Blogs

In 2019, again ranked in the Top 50 Gastronomy Blogs and Websites for Gastronomists & Gastronomes in 2019 by Feedspot. (Last Updated Oct 23, 2019) 

"The Best Gastronomy blogs selected from thousands of Food blogs, Culture blogs and Food Science blogs in our index using search and social metrics. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information."  

36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel


 
About Gerry Dawes

My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life." -- Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019


Gerry Dawes is the Producer and Program Host of Gerry Dawes & Friends, a weekly radio progam on Pawling Public Radio in Pawling, New York (streaming live and archived at www.pawlingpublicradio.org and at www.beatofthevalley.com.)

Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 


". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

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