A pedestrian plaza in Seville filled with cars

A pedestrian plaza in Seville filled with cars
A pedestrian plaza in Seville filled with cars

Blocked access, vans in double rows, cars reversing and even the danger of being run over. What I’m telling you doesn’t happen in one of those great avenues of cinematic cities. It happens every day – especially weekdays – in the heart of Seville, in an area that has been remodeled urbanistically and gained (supposedly) for the enjoyment of the citizen. The pedestrianized Magdalena Square suffers from a kind of traffic cholesterol at rush hour. Yes, it may sound like oxymoronbut what I am telling you happens every day at the confluence of this renovated enclave with the Rioja streetone of the main arteries of the Old Town of Seville.

Let’s remember. The redevelopment of this square became one of the most significant projects of the second term of Juan Espadasthe former socialist mayor who these days is enduring on the roof of the Andalusian PSOE this authentic storm that has been raised Pedro Sanchez with the Catalan amnesty. As Bernard and Aline, the handsome man from Moncloa manages alone to take whatever comes his way and remain unbeatable. Let’s see what degree of resistance the covers of the once all-powerful Andalusian socialism offer when such a storm passes. Either it stays standing or it falls down like that palm tree in Pino Montano, an incident narrated by the speaker most viralized (what an ugly word) in recent times.

What I was going for. The reform of the Plaza de la Magdalena was accompanied – something not unusual in this city – by an important controversy. For many (not without reason) it meant leaving it in private hands in exchange for facing its remodeling. A new owner as a symbol of one of the most widespread power groups in Seville in recent decades: a hotel which would be made with two buildings, the old Corte Inglés dedicated to home decoration and the previous BBVA building. The Radisson chain would be in charge of its management.

The square was officially inaugurated in autumn 2021, but months before, one of its sides was already occupied by the nightstands of the hospitality establishments that house the hotel. Perfect metaphor for today’s Seville, where public space is at the mercy of the tourist business and bars.

An improved landscape

Not everything has been bad since then. It must be recognized that it is an enclave (where the Magdalena parish once stood) much more walkable than before, with one of the most well-kept flowerbeds and with a variety of vegetation that is unusual in this Seville dedicated body and soul to a globalized and impersonal urbanism. In that sense, you can buy part of the speech defended at the time by the City Council, when it had to face criticism for the “privatization” of the square.

But that argument falls apart to a large extent when observing (and suffering) the reality of day to day life. Traffic hasn’t disappeared. It is true that vehicles do not circulate in the quantity that they did before, but those that still reach the mouth of Rioja do so, hindering pedestrian traffic. And a lot.

Everything is due to the services required by the two hotel buildings and the businesses they include. Loading and unloading of goods is continuous. At almost all hours of the day. These are vans that have few parking spaces. They do it even in double lines and in the area closest to what was once the BBVA office. Over there overlap with the VTC requested by Radisson guests. The strip of the square that connects O’Donnell with Rioja is blocked, as well as the beginning of this street. Up to seven vehicles have been counted at certain times, which must be avoided with the utmost concern. The poor visibility of drivers has been on the verge of hitting a pedestrian in front of them on numerous occasions (with the consequent brawl and expletives between those affected).

To all this we must add the difficulty that such accumulation causes for users of the underground parking located at the beginning of Rioja, who have permission to circulate through this section of the square. In short, a true pifostio that perpetuates in the area’s regulars the feeling of hotel appropriation of the square.

“The square for its owners,” more than one neighbor can be heard saying, who regrets that the City Council has not yet regulated the hours for loading and unloading in this enclave, as is the case a few meters further on, on San Pablo Street, where El Corte Inglés is located. The suppliers of these department stores arrive at said street after ten at night, once the establishment has closed. And despite using heavy trailers, due to the time at which they access the center, they hardly interrupt circulation or endanger pedestrians.

But there is still one more counterpart that the residents of the area have endured since the Plaza de la Magdalena passed “into new hands”: the evening soundtrack of the weekends from one of the hotel terraces. Not even the most mortifying of cilices (forgive this dramatic attack) provokes greater penance than the group of pseudo-singers who, in the middle of the afternoon, cover (so to speak) in flamenco (all diminutives imply a degradation) classic Spanish pop songs.

Authentic torture for the ears that sneaks into homes, stores, offices and even the busy Church of the Holy Angel, a temple always full of faithful. His prior Juan Dobado You already know what the music of hell sounds like on this blocked and noisy Rioja street. It is up to the municipalities to remedy it.

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