THIS IS THE SEVILLA OF JAVIER FALCÓN
Words and photos: Fiona Flores Watson, of Scribbler in Seville.
As cities to set novels in go, Seville ranks pretty high. It’s got extraordinary festivals, many historic corners, and is stunningly beautiful. The new drama series Falcón, adapted from Robert Wilson’s novels The Blind Man of Seville (episodes 1 and 2) and The Silent and the Damned (episodes 3 and 4), which starts on Sky Atlantic next Thursday 15 November at 10.00pm (UK time), shows a darker, less well-known side to the city. Here we follow in the footsteps of intense, tortured protagonist Javier Falcón around his Seville: authentic spots, little-visited by the tourist hordes.
Starting out in the Triana area of Seville, known for its ceramic tiles, bullfighters and flamenco stars, on Calle Betis you´ll find Taberna La Albariza. This restaurant is where Chief Inspector (Homicide Division) Javier Falcon meets his late father’s art dealer, Ramon Salgado in The Blind Man of Seville. La Albariza is famous for its jamón ibérico and tortillitas de camarones, and the outside tables have a wonderful view of Triana Bridge, though due to its location the restaurant gets very busy and standards can vary. Calle Betis is packed with bars and is a popular night-time venue.
Crossing the Triana bridge back to the main part of the city, stop to admire the view, which is one of the city’s finest: to your right are the coloured houses along Calle Betis, overlooking the river Guadalquivir; to your left, you can see the Torre del Oro on the river, the Giralda tower, and the Maestranza with its curved white facade.
Once you’ve reached the other side of the bridge, head for Calle Bailen. The house the writer had in mind as Falcon’s when he wrote the novels is number 28 – the detective’s address is given in the book as Calle Bailen. The casa señorial (mansion) is set back from the road, near the Hotel Colon – look out for the huge wooden door with brass studs and a grand facade, with orange trees in front of it. From the street outside, you can see the red awnings of bullfighters’ preferred accommodation when they’re here to perform at the Maestranza. (Another house was used for filming Falcón’s in the series.)
Nearby is Plaza del Museo, home to Museo de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum). Falcon spies on his ex-wife Inma and the youthful judge Javier Calderon here in The Blind Man of Seville, before the lovers go back to Calderon’s apartment in Calle San Vicente. It’s a large, shady square, with palms and exotic trees, rosebeds and marble benches - a good place to stop and sit down, especially on a hot day. Look out for the statue of Murillo, the Sevillano painter, in the centre. The museum, a former convent, houses one of Spain’s fines art collections – if you like religious art, you´ll be in heaven. Famous Seville artists whose work you can see include Bartolome, Valdes Leal and Zurbaran, as well as Murillo.
With the museum behind you, head left into Calle San Vicente, where Judge Calderon lives. You’ll pass a church on the right with a spectacular stone Gothic archway and a tall brick Mudejar tower – a curious architectural mish-mash which is common in Seville, with its multiple layers of history.
Walking away from the river, you come into San Lorenzo district. This has many grand mansions – many Sevillanos keep their front doors open, so you can look through iron grilles into their lush green patios.
Many scenes of Falcón – especially exteriors of Falcón’s and Salgado’s houses – were shot on and near Calle Hernan Cortes behind Plaza San Lorenzo. In The Silent and the Damned, Falcon and Consuelo meet at a bar called Casa Ricardo on this street.
This is a traditional Sevillano bar, with shelves against the wall outside so you can eat and drink on the street; typical dishes include croquetas de jamon, solomillo al whisky, and flamenquines. The walls of Casa Ricardo are completely covered with photos depicting every aspect of Semana Santa (Holy Week) – pasos (floats), costaleros (men who carry the floats), nazarenos (hooded figures in processions)…
If the decor of Casa Ricardo piques your interest in Seville’s favourite religious festival, which attract millions of visitors every year, go round the corner to Plaza San Lorenzo. In the basilica at the far corner you’ll find one of the city’s most revered statues of Jesus, focus of intense attention and adoration on the madrugá (late night on Thursday) of Semana Santa. Dressed in purple velvet robes embroidered with gold, and carrying a cross, Jesus del Gran Poder(All-powerful Jesus) takes centre stage in this unusual round church. Climb the stairs behind the statue – Catholics kiss or touch the wooden heel of Jesus through an opening in the glass case, for good luck.
Next to San Lorenzo is the Alameda district, and its heart is the Alameda de Hercules. This broad avenue was a dangerous hang-out for prostitutes and drug pushers when Wilson wrote the book 12 years ago. In The Blind Man of Seville, Falcon goes here to look for a witness – Eloisa Gomez. The area has, says Wilson, “gone through a transformation” – it is now the heart of bohemian Sevilla, with countless terrace cafes and bars, art galleries and a buzzing atmosphere.
Credit: Flickr/Alejandro Flores
For more information about the series see Sky Atlantic.
Watch a trailer of Falcón.
See all of Books4Spain’s books about Seville here