Scribbler in Seville

Mosaic owls and pink flamingos

Flamingos on the lake at Cañada de los Pajaros. Under those wings are bright pink patches, so when they flap them, you get flashes of pure brilliance.

As part of my plan to get the family out of the house on Sundays, to avoid driving each other mad or watching so much TV we become zombies, we’ve made two visits to nearby places of interest – last week and today.

Cañada de los Pajaros means Gully of the Birds. It's more of lake. Poetic licence, I suppose.

The first was to Cañada de los Pajaros, a bird sanctuary just south of Seville. Now I’m no twitcher, but it’s like flowers – if they’re brightly coloured, or cute, or unusual-looking, then I’m interested.

On our arrival, we were a bit horrified to find that the entrance fee had gone up from the very reasonable 1.50 euros quoted in a (OK, rather out-of-date) brochure for Seville province, to 10 euros. On the website, it avoided any mention of pricing. Not surprising, as it would put most people off.

But on the upside, everyone else clearly agreed (one couple with a baby turned tail when they saw the tariff), so we had the place to ourselves. There’s a lake with lots of flamingos, storks and various ducks. In enclosures (OK, cages) there were ravens, with their glossy, black feathers, which made me think of the Tower of London.

A stork - you often see them sitting on their nests atop chimneys or electricity pylons.

The sanctuary is privately owned, and runs various breeding programmes, including one for the crested coot. In terms of colour, the underside of the flamingos wings were a candy floss pink, and here are some of the other eye-catchingly brilliant feathered attractions. We were able to feed them, too – one of my reasons for going to the Cañada was for the kids to be up close to nature, <a href="“>one of the things I miss about England, which is packed with farms and farm parks and zoos where children can feed animals.

Feed the birds, tuppence (actually, 1.50 euro) a bag...

We had a lovely walk around the lake, although admittedly this is not the best time of year to see it, as much of it has dried up due to lack of rain. Spring is a good time, for floral colour too. There’s a restaurant with a lake next to it (more of a puddle at the moment), so you can have your lunch with a view of birds through the walls of glass.

Today’s outing was more cultural and historic – Italica, the Roman city near Seville. It’s in a town called Santiponce, most of which is built over the old part of Italica (vetus urbs) – you can see how some houses are higher than others when you drive through it – so what you visit is the new part (novus urbs). The Roman emperors Hadrian and Trajan were both born here – and have various streets and hotels named after them in Seville, whose name then was Hispalis. Andalucia roughly province in Roman times was named Baetica, and its archaeological highlights today include the seaside town of Baelo Claudia.

Italica's amphitheatre, which seated 25,000. The ditch in the middle is where they kept the wild animals (lions, bears, wolves) before they were released to fight the gladiators

The site boasts a spectacular amphitheatre – the third-largest in the Roman Empire, as well as temples, baths and houses; the theatre is located in the town of Santiponce. Much of it has been restored, or at least shored up, by ugly modern brick or cement. For me, the best part of any visit to Italica are the mosaics. I love Roman mosaics, as seen in Seville’s new Antiquarium Roman museum, under the Mushrooms (Metropol Parasol).

And here they have some truly marvellous mosaics. One of the amazing thing about these 2000-year-old works of art is how well preserved they are – the colours are still bright, and the birds are easily recognised today. I love that feeling of continuity.

Here are some Roman birds – see if you can guess what they are.

OK, that’s today’s A Post a Day (I’m doing a blog post every day for October, which will vary somewhat in length and quality, I fear). Don’t forget to check out my fellow blogger Digamama‘s post for today too. Hers is about potties, but as always she makes it stylish, sharp and witty.

9 thoughts on “Mosaic owls and pink flamingos

  1. Bibsey Mama

    Great post. I went to see the amphitheater and the old Roman city a couple of years ago. The mosaics are amazing. I was quite pregnant at the time, and had be walking round Seville all morning, so I was quite knackered by the time we got there. Fascinating place.

    1. Fiona Flores Watson

      Thanks, Bibsey. I’m impressed you went to Italica and Seville all in the same day when you were pregnant! Italica is not the easiest going underfoot, with all those wobbly bits of Roman paving, although walking along a Roman road is, in itself, pretty cool. Me and my son pretended to be driving chariots along it when we were there yesterday (he did a project on the Romans last year at school, so he’s an expert now, obviously). Next time you’re there, try that with your little ‘un.

      1. Bibsey Mama

        Don’t be impressed. I have a very Gung-ho Aunt who lives in Seville. She and my uncle (Spanish) led me around for the day. I had a great time but fell into bed the minute we got home.

        1. Fiona Flores Watson

          Next time you’re here visiting your Gung-ho aunt (is she an AWC member, by any chance?) you will have to let me know so we can meet for a coffee or frozen yoghurt – we are so achingly hip here in Seville.

  2. azahar

    10 euros?? Yikes.

    Did you know that they are doing theme dinners at Italica now? You can go for a private tour and “eat like the Romans”.

    I haven’t been there in ages. Must go again.

    1. Fiona Flores Watson

      I think they’ve been doing those Roman dinners for a while, I remember something about them in Tu Guia when I used to translate it a few years ago. At least Italica is free – we’ll back again soon!

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