One fine Saturday, we headed a mere 10 minutes out of Seville with our pals, Bev, Bruce, and Ivan, to check out the village of Castilleja de Guzmán. It’s more or less a suburb of Seville, but feels like it’s its own little village nowhere near a major metropolitan center.
What we really came here for was to visit the now-defunct Colegio Mayor Santa María del Buen Aire. It was a school as recently as a few years ago. Before that, it was the palace of a count that overlooked endless rows of olive trees.
Its history is much longer than that – going back centuries – and I’m not entirely clear what it was, when it was, and to whom it was.
So then, we’re just going to focus on what I do know. After all, this isn’t a history paper and you’re not grading me, right? Right?!
Anyway, what’s cool about this place is that, even though it’s in disrepair and you can’t even go inside, it’s still an impressive sight, mostly because of its pretty lil’ gardens.
You might not know this guy, but Jean-Claude Nicholas Forestier was a well-known landscape artist back in the day. Been to Paris? He did all the gardens below the Eiffel Tower. Skills, amiright? He’s also responsible for the Parque de María Luisa here in Seville, which is the massive wooded and landscaped area next to the Plaza de España.
So apparently, the count here in Castilleja de Guzmán thought he’d get this guy to do his gardens. It’s a wonder that he supposedly ran out of money.
We had a little private tour throughout the area, with a guide from the city as this whole thing was donated to the University of Seville back in the day.
I wish I had better pictures, but I don’t. When you’re in a very wooded park in the middle of a sunny day, the light creates havoc and mayhem with below-average camera skills. Ah well!
I really like how, at the edge of the park, you can look over the rolling hills outside of town – much of which is a protected area these days – and imagine that you’re back in the old days, looking out of your fancy gardens and into the world.
It really doesn’t feel like you’re in the suburbs if you ignore the buildings that are just beyond the nature.
Unfortunately, a few loose screws decided they’d sneak into the gardens the week before we were there, getting their vandalism on and knocking over a bunch of pottery in the park. Thanks, jerks!
It’ll probably either never be fixed or not be fixed for ages, since the university doesn’t really spend money or time out there.
Anyway, it was a nice couple of hours, walking around the park, even if it doesn’t get as much love as it should these days. It was a nice respite from the city, to come and walk around a place we previously knew nothing about.
Afterwards, we headed around the corner and dined and drank outside at a very good restaurant called Momentos.
This guy was eyeing us the whole time as well. He was huge, and possibly thinking about robbing us of our lunch. Not sure, but he was nice enough to pose for Ang’s photos.
While it was sad to see so much of the great space at the palace and gardens in disrepair, and it felt more than a little neglected, it was still a good, mildly learned, and relaxing day in the burbs with friends. Right on!
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Have you ever been to Castilleja de Guzmán? If so, what’d you think? If not, what say ye? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!