Santa Cruz

Originally the Jewish quarter, Santa Cruz is, for me, quintessential Sevilla. It's what I remember most from past visits and it is architecturally Sevilla at its finest. It is also the prime tourist area, so expect to see a lot of people completely lost - it is a maze of narrow streets dotted with quaint plazas and can be hard to navigate.

The area has had its ups and downs over the centuries. During the Muslim reign, the Jewish population was welcomed and thrived in Sevilla. The thriving part continued during the time of Ferdinand III of Castille, but the educated, professional, Jewish population was targeted for attacks by the less educated, agrarian Christian population so Ferdinand built a wall around Santa Cruz to protect the Jewish population. This all lasted until the religious persecution and pogroms that started in 1391. Many Jews were forced to convert to Christianity until the Alhambra decree of 1492 finally forced the rest out. Fast forward to the 20th century and Santa Cruz had become rundown, seedy and dangerous. Fortunately for the 1992 world expo, Sevilla revitalized the neighborhood and it still shines today. There are some truly unfortunate large, unattractive  apartment buildings from the 70s and 80s that replaced decayed buildings and provided cheap housing. Just ignore them.

This is where a quick visit to Sevilla doesn't do it [or you] justice. Traversing Santa Cruz is best done very slowly and more than once. I recommend walking around, then taking a tour, then walking around again. The Centro de Interpretación Juderia de Sevilla conducts an excellent walking tour that provides an extensive history of Santa Cruz, its architecture, and the forces that shaped Sevilla.

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