I love to visit smaller places that are not very far from a city yet far enough to have its own calm and charm. Ideally located to suit all tastes in holidays Lebrija is one such pretty town only 75 KMs from Seville in the lower basin of the Guadalquivir River. Just relax and take in the traditional Spanish way of life or pay a day’s visit, you’ll remember it for long.
The Mayor’s office building.
Church of Santa María de la Oliva and a jet passes by.
This pretty walled town enjoys panoramic views over the surrounding vineyards. The most important point of the town is the Santa Maria de Oliva church which was built as a mosque and later converted into a church by Alfonso X. Some original Islamic features have survived till date. The city’s architecture reflects the Moorish influence in Mozarabic temples, in the Church of Santa María de la Oliva and in the ruins of a Moorish castle.
Ruby and diamond studded cross made of gold in Santa María de la Oliva church.
The town was first called Nebrixa by the Romans, Nebrisa by the Arabs, and later Nebrija, or Lebrija, by the Spaniards, who reconquered it. Lebrija is the birthplace of the scholar Elio Antonio de Nebrija, author of the first Castilian Spanish grammar.
Lebrija is one of the most important towns when it comes to Flamenco. Caracolá, one of the major flamenco festivals in Spain is held here every year in July and many artists related to this dance form are also born here.
A cross made of red roses, enclosed in glass.
We were late by a few days to witness the Cruces de Mayo (Holy Crosses of May), a popular festival in Lebrija. It is held during the first two weekends of May and is a community activity where each neighborhood raises a cross, mostly building them from scratch using flowers, forged iron or wood. Dancing and singing activities, especially a local form called Sevillanas, start around these crosses in the town. Of course, the delicious food accompanies as well.
In all my visits to Spain I’ve noticed that flowers have much importance here and people love to play with them in any form. Oh! How can I ever forget the beautiful Girona!! And the Jewish patio and the amazing lady who cooks with flowers and … the list goes on.
During this festival also, womenfolk use them to decorate their houses and also to put in their hair. So it’s not surprising that it’s also called a ‘women’s festival’. 🙂
Lebrija: What a pretty little town with Lavender trees all around.
Being a small town, it has its own advantages. The guide told me, there was no plaza in those days and just a town hall at the center of it which divided the old and new parts of Lebrija. It was also the entrance to the village and it was said to be the center of the sun and everything revolved around it. No wonder, it became a meeting place for people of Lebrija.
A cobbled street in Lebrija.
The Mayor Maria Jose Fernández.
The highlight of Lebrija was meeting the Mayor Maria Jose Fernández, the first woman Mayor of Spain. Such a humble and smart woman! Her office was housed in a beautiful building with a small clock tower to itself. She chatted with us for half an hour and told us about Lebrija and its future plans.
The Mayor in her office.
I couldn’t imagine when she said that only 30 years back the whole area was a marshy land. This land was cultivated and cotton was produced. This cotton came out to be of high quality with the first produce itself. Do you believe that a major chunk of this produce is exported to India? Other agricultural produce are tomatoes and rice. While travelling from Seville you can see rice paddies and cotton fields.
The Guest book in her office.
The media from the local TV channel.
The media people from the local TV Lebrija.tv had also come to the office of the Mayor and started shooting us during our chat. After that, they videographed us throughout our visit to the town. We were informed that the news would appear that night on the local channel. That’s how I was featured on Lebrija.tv . The news was about ‘A group of journalists working in Indian media yesterday met Lebrija. They were received by the mayor and later visited the most emblematic places of the city’. Here’s the link.
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