Seville Snapshots: Plaza de España

My first visit to Plaza de España was on my day of arrival to Seville after studying in Valladolid. I sat on the tiled bench of the province and wrote my observations of the city that I would later reside in and call home. Those reflections are lost in a mountain of possessions in Chicago, but the city left enough of an impression on me to call me back two years later.

I took my grandma to Plaza de España on our first day in Seville, fresh off the plane. The day was sweltering for mid September, and we mostly hung to the colonnades and in the mist of the enormous fountain in the middle of the half-moon  square crowning the María Luisa Park. I used to argue it was the most beautiful building in the city.

But five years later as a semi-jaded expat, it’s hard to see this beautiful neo-mudejár palace as anything but a place where the government has wasted far too many hours of my life. Hidden beneath the brick and marble are government offices, including police headquarters, military outposts and the dreaded Oficina de Extranjeros – the foreigner’s office.

Rolling out of bed to get my Número de Identificación de Extranjeros meant rolling out of bed at 5:30 a.m., just as day was breaking. I waited for a number until 8am, then wasn’t seen until 11a.m. Doing anything within that slack little office means rethinking your willingness to stay in Spain, but there are ways to make the experience more pleasant. The best one? Walking out into the sunshine after being in a windowless office for hours and seeing the south tower reflected in the moat of a place witness to the Iberoamerican Fair, several marches and demonstrations, and even the filming of The Dictator.

Thanks to my pal, Jeremy Bassetti, for the gorgeous photo! Follow him at:

Photo © A Painter of Modern Life (

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. I guess Puerto Rico inherited its frustrating turno system from Spain. I have spent far too many days waiting for my turn, at doctor’s offices, government buildings, utilities companies, you name it. It takes a certain mindset to survive in Latino countries.

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