The joy of (window) shopping in Andalusia

Posted on February 14, 2014 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

The reason why I don't write much about shopping in London is partly because I don't enjoy it these days and do most of my shopping online. I avoid Oxford street and Tottenham Court Road like the plague, and I find shopping in central London extremely uninspiring. Specialists and independent shops are hard to find and even areas like Notting Hill and Islington are becoming more mainstream, and so we are left with Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Stoke Newington, Brixton, Dalston or Lamb Conduit Street for something different.

High streets in London or Britain are now dominated by chains (with a few exceptions), they are becoming homogeneous with no distinctive characters nor individuality. And we wonder why the British high streets are dying whilst e-commerce is booming? A friend from abroad visited London last summer and we went to Richmond for the day... I was horrified by its high street because despite the historical facade, the shops are no different from the ones in Westfield or Tunbridge Wells. Do the public want the same shops in every city and town? I doubt it.



Top left: Ale hop shop; Top right: Design in Andalusia products; Bottom left: Maspapeles stationery shop: Bottom right: Camden shop in Seville


In Andalusia, however, I was thrilled to see traditional and specialist shops next to secondhand or trendy designer boutiques. Yes, there are some chained shops and touristy souvenirs but they are not in every corner, independent/specialists shops co-exist with chained ones and the balance is just right. There are shops selling flamenco outfits, fans, fabrics, crafts, hair accessories, hats and ceramics etc. Also, the art of visual merchandising is celebrated here, even a hardware store would take the time to make their window display 'appealing' to passerby. If only shops in the U.K. could understand the impact of display aesthetics on their shops, then perhaps our high streets could still be 'saved'.


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Top left and midde: La Libelula; Top right and 2nd row right: Maria Gavira; Bottom left: A shopping street in Granada; Bottom right: A espadrille/ shoe shop in Cordoba


Here are some shops that I stumbled upon during my trip, as a bigger city, Seville offers a lot more in terms of shopping but the other two cities also offer some traditional and specialists shops:


La Libelula (Calle Cuna, 45, Alfalfa) - A multi-storey fashion and home furnishings shop with an airy courtyard, florist, exhibition area and cafe. The shop stocks from many new/ up and coming Spanish designers, so it is a good place to check out the names from the local fashion scene.

Wabi Sabi shop and gallery (Viriato, 9, La Macarena) - Located north of the city centre, although the shop uses the Japanese term, 'wabi sabi' ( aesthetics or beauty that is imperfect or impermanent), its shop theme is not actually Japanese. It is a lifestyle shop that specialises in contemporary art and design, covering fashion, home furnishings, recycled antique furniture, books, art and crafts, and it also has an online shop, gallery and workshop space for various events to take place.

Maria Gavira (Calle Mateos Gago 29, Santa Cruz) - I came across this small fashion/ accessories shop in Santa Cruz and was greeted by the lovely owner, Maria. She doesn't speak much English, but we ended up communicating in French ( it turns out that my rustic French can be useful in certain circumstances). Maria uses textiles to create beautiful fashion accessories and home furnishings ( you can see her handmade shower caps and decorations in the photos above), but she also stocks an interesting range from other craftsmen and fashion brands. After making my purchase, Maria was keen to recommend some tapas and flamenco places and she marked them all down for me on my map! Her hospitality really touched me, but best of all, she is a passionate designer/maker and I felt like we bonded very quickly. This proves that language and culture is never a barrier when you share similar values and passion.



Top left, right and 2nd row middle: Galerias Madrid; 2nd row left: Raquel Terán; 3rd row: Ashop near Plaza de Jesús de la Pasión selling hair accessories for Catholics; 4th row right: Traditional fans at Dizal; Last row right: Enrique Sanchis


Galerias Madrid (Calle Cuna, 42, Alfalfa) - If you love fabric, you will love this multi-storey store that sells fabrics and textiles for upholstery and apparel including all the trimmings for a flamenco dress!

Raquel Terán (Calle Francos, 6, Alfalfa) - if you are looking for flamboyant, vintage-like and feminine flamenco fashion, you will it here! The style is rich, colourful and full of trimmings, and they even have a children's collection.

Dizal (Calle Sierpes 48, Alfalfa) - Traditional fans can be found here and at Diza (no.75) at affordable prices.

Maspapeles (Calle Zaragoza, 17) - A stationery shop that sells a range of quality notebooks, pens, wrapping paper and boxes etc.

Enrique Sanchis (Calle Sierpes 19, Alfalfa) - It's hard to miss this century-old watchmaker's shop front ( see photo above), it is especially known for its array of antique timepieces.


Ceramics and tiles

The district of Triana has been producing azulejos (ceramic tiles) since Roman times and it is named after the Roman Emperor Trajanus. The area was once full of ceramic workshops and potteries, unfortunately as the trade diminishes, workshops are now hard to find, and only a handful of ceramic or souvenir shops are left. However, a new Centro Ceramica Triana (ceramic musuem) is due to open soon after much delay.


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Main: Ceramica Santa Ana; 2nd row left: Ceramica La Aliaza; 2nd row middle: Emilio García Ortiz; Second row right and bottom row: Populart


Ceramica Santa Ana (Calle San Jorge, 31, Triana) - Sadly, I just found out that this famous ceramic shop has closed its doors ( I thought it was just closed on the day I visited), but the impressive facade is still worth the time if you happen to be in the area.

Populart ( Pasaje de Vila 4, Santa Cruz) - this wonderful Andalusian ceramic and tile shop is close to the Cathedral and sells a wide range of antique and contemporary tiles and potteries suitable for all budgets. A must-stop for all tile lovers!


Artisans and specialists


One of the most interesting and unique sight in Andalusia is that many craftsmen and artisans are happy to 'show-off' their skills and expertise publicly. Passerby can watch or peek into their open studio or workshop to see the artisans at work, which I think is a great ( and free) way to market themselves!

Ceramica Elhumo ( C/ Corregidor Luis de la Cerda 68) - Two local artists, Valle Sillero and Jesús Rey run a small studio/shop that allows passerby to admire their sculpting skills. They use a special Raku technique to make clocks, lamps, pots, human and animal figures, home decorations and paintings that are inspired by the local culture.

Sala El Potro (13 Plaza del Potro) - this small art gallery in the famous Plaza del Potro sells limited edition prints and original artwork by emerging and established Andalucian artists. The gallery also has an online shop for those who want your art to be delivered to your door without going all the way to Cordoba!


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Top row: Sombrerería Herederos de J Rusi; Bottom left: An artisan at work in his studio in Cordoba; Bottom middle: Ceramica elhumo


Sombrerería Herederos de J Rusi (Calle Conde de Cardenas 1) - Originally from Cordoba, the famous and award-winning Spanish hat-maker has a small and charming shop that keeps its family traditions and craftsmanship alive. Opened since 1903, it feels like little has changed over the years, I just love the rows of circular hat boxes neatly stacked on the shelves! Although I did not buy any hats, I felt good knowing that traditional and quality craftsmanship is still being appreciated in our disposable culture today.


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Daniel Gil de Avalle 



Daniel Gil de Avalle (Plaza del Realejo, 15) - A chance to see the guitarrero (guitar maker) at work through its large window at this longstanding music shop that specialises in handmade classical and flamenco guitars.


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Top left and middle: Artesano manuel morillo in Granada; Top right: a Marquetry shop inside the Alhambra; 2nd row left: traditional toys sold at the Palacio de Viana shop in Cordoba. Main: a local craft shop at Plaza de la Corredera in Cordoba.


Artesano Manuel Morillo (Calle Ánimas, 1) - Tarecea (marquetry) is a traditional craft originated from the Moors and is unique to Granada in Spain. Manuel Morillo Castillo is a craftsman who makes marquetry boxes, objects and chess sets, and you can watch him at work in his shop near Plaza Nueva. I bought a few boxes (under €10) as souvenir for friends and family and they all love the design and craftsmanship, and they look more expensive than what I paid for!


Vintage and collectibles

Throughout my trip I came across many vintage, retro and collectible shops which I didn't expect before the trip. From vintage stamps to dolls, toys and books, Andalusia is great for those who love everything nostalgic!


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3rd row left: Cuevas Juguetería Técnica; 4th row right: Le Secret de Carmen in Seville; 4th row left, middle and 5th row: El Laberino in Cordoba.



Le Secret de Carmen (Candilejo 8) - a small shop dedicated to Carmen! They sell antiquities, vintage articles, books, posters, CD and records around Carmen and Seville.

F. Cuevas Jugueteria tecnica (Plaza de San Francisco, 16) - this is no ordinary toy shop, it sells cars, trains and plane models, figurines, dolls and accessories, kitchenettes etc from all eras and for all ages. You can find antique and collectible toys that are geared towards adults who have a nostalgic streak, and unfortunately they also come with rather high price tags.


El Laberino (Ronda de Isasa 4) - I love secondhand bookshops, and so I was excited when I saw this spacious riverside bookshop. Apart from many Spanish classics, there are also vintage children’s books, magazines, printed matters and books in other languages.



This post was posted in Shopping, Shopping guide, Travel, Traditional arts & crafts, Andalusia, Visual merchandising and was tagged with shopping, fashion, traditional crafts, Shopping guide, seville, Andalusia, Cordoba, Granada, visual merchandising