One of the very few silver linings to emerge from the cloud of Covid-19 has been our urge to spring-clean. Or indeed, summer-clean, autumn-clean and winter-clean to boot. With repeated lockdowns and unexpected time at home on our hands, we have sorted out and decluttered. Household tasks left neglected have been given new attention. Walls in need of re-painting have been given fresh coats. Gardens have been weeded, lofts cleared.
But over in Andalusia – and in the notable case of one Seville tapas bar – this reenergising process has gone much further than filling a few boxes for charity donation and kerbside recycling. It has led to a fabulous rediscovery – and a journey back into the 12th century.
Like much of western Europe, Spain’s fourth biggest city spent most of last year tied up in various levels of closure – strict enough that, come July, the Cerveceria Giralda decided to undertake a spot of renovation. Of course, the heat of the Andalusian sun tends to stem the flow of people into central Seville in high summer in the best of years – but with the added effect of the pandemic, here was a chance to undertake some extra house-keeping.
What should have been a gentle sprucing up turned into a sizeable excavation.
The tapas bar has been at its address on Calle Mateos Gago for just short of a century – it opened its doors in 1923. But its foundations are burrowed into a much earlier period – the time of Al-Andalus, when the majority of what is now Spain and Portugal was under Moorish rule. This era stretched from 711, when Umayyad warriors began crossing the Strait of Gibraltar from north Africa, to 1492, when Granada was the final Emirate to fall to the Spanish crown. Seville checked out a little earlier – it was taken by Ferdinand III of Castile on November 23 1248 – but much of its centre was laid out in those five centuries.