James Bond´s Havana is in Spain

Remember those gorgeous Havana beach scenes in the recent James Bond film Die Anther Day? And where Mr. Bond first sees the flawless Halle Berry walking out of the ocean? Well, those famous “Havana” scenes were actually filmed in the equally famous (and beautiful) Cadíz of Southern Spain.

The Bond movie didn’t have to go too far to make Cadíz look and feel like Havana, Cuba. The similarities of Havana and Cadíz don’t begin and end with those few scenes. In fact, Cadíz is known as “Little Havana.” And as you walk through Havana, there is a strong sense of Andalucian influence in the architecture, style and overall feel of the city. The plazas, the streets and cathedrals all have a hint of Spain, especially the historic cities like Seville and Cadíz.

A beach in Havana

But how did Havana, Cuba end up being a sister city to this quintessential Andalucian town over 4,000 miles away?

Cadíz was an important link between Europe and The New World, with ships of Christopher Columbus and other explorers sailing from there. There became a continuous flow of traffic between the two cities in the 1700s when the Spanish sailed routes between Cadíz, Havana and Puerto Rico. During this time of Cadíz’s “Golden Century” and the growth of overseas trade, the Spanish style and influence was easily transferred to one of their most valuable ports in Havana.

La Caleta beach in Cadíz

Beyond its influence abroad, the city of Cadíz is said to be the oldest continually inhabited city in Spain. The buzzing, beautiful plazas are an important part of the old town, but the beaches are what really make this city stand out. La playa de la Caleta and street above, which greatly resemble parts of Havana, was used for some of the Cuban scenes in the Bond movie.

As if the seductive beauty of the beaches wasn’t enough, there is a very palpable laid-back, carefree attitude about the city that makes it even more welcoming. You might even find Mr. Bond lounging around sipping one of those “shaken, not stirred” martinis he prefers…

References: University of Barcelona Language and Culture, Al Andalus Spanish School Photo Credit: allmoviephoto.com

This post was originally published on Andalucia Inside.

Where the new meets the old: Seville’s Plaza de la Encarnación

It’s hard to imagine what Plaza de la Encarnación would’ve looked like years ago when there weren’t six giant mushroom shaped parasols rising above the busy plaza, before it became home to the largest wooden structure in the world.

Plaza de la Encarnación was the setting of a food market (the same one there today in fact) but in 1973 when their facilities needed improvement and there was talk of incorporating an underground parking space into the same area, the stalls were knocked down. An above ground parking lot temporarily inhabited the plaza until a clear building plan was made to integrate a new market, underground parking and Roman ruins, which had been discovered in the 1990s. This ancient Roman colony was said to consist of “structures including two Late Antique houses with courtyards, a possible church, and other houses or structures in the vicinity of a later Islamic house.” The structure was designed in 2007 by German architect Jürgen Mayer H and construction began soon after.

It’s easy to tilt your head and imagine you’re seeing a large honeycombed spaceship descending upon Sevilla, but the structure actually includes four useable levels. The first level (below ground) was designed so you can walk around the excavated Roman ruins and the second street-level view includes a large farmer’s market along with a couple cafes. The third level, a raised platform below the structure, is a beautiful open space where you can really take in the massive size of the structure. The fourth level is my favorite. On the very top of the Metropol Parasol they have created a large panoramic deck to see the unforgettable views over the ancient city center.

Although this plaza has been open since March 27, 2011, opinions still remain divided about the structure. As someone who has no roots in Seville, I tend to have a little different perspective.

The Metropol Parasol is a (large) hint of the new in a city that steadfastly and so beautifully preserves the traditional. To some it looks out of place, a towering behemoth of light wood next to the muted Medieval tones of the cathedrals, cobblestone streets and apartment buildings. But to me, this modern structure represents that young, vibrant, you-can’t-quite-place-it feel of Seville.

For a city that has seen the Phoenicians, the Roman Empire, the Arabs and all the diverse history since, it easily preserves all that traditional quality and feel, without being, well, boring. There is a deep history here that I can’t fathom having grown up in the U.S. Visions of a 7-year-old me running through Colonial Williamsburg in a mop cap and pinafore thinking I was in really old, ancient times comes to mind…But now I’m walking over Roman ruins every day.

Plaza de la Encarnación is hugged by the old and traditional, but confidently represents that fresh, dynamic feel of Sevilla that you’ll never forget.

This article was originally published on Andalucia Inside.

References:Arup.comsouthampton.ac.ukdesignbuild-network.com, Photo Credit: Overhours.com