You have just passed through the threshold of the Posada del Lucero, or Morning Star Inn, the oldest of its kind in Seville that conserves its original structure and function. Recently and carefully restored over a period of three years, it still welcomes the tired traveler with warmth and sustenance, just as it has for over four centuries.
Close your eyes for a moment and return to when time stopped here. Feel the pulse of life in the walls, the hive of stories that have brushed smooth its Tuscan and Cantañuelas style arches and columns. Sense the souls that have passed on, the beat of life they gave to the age-old masonry, the desires, the anguish, the pain and hopes that have been housed in its courtyards and under its roof, the very same desires, anguish, pain and hopes that have charged its silver-plated name with poetry. You’ve entered a place steeped in history.
Feast your eyes on a place that’s had the same function, without interruption, for over 400 years. You’re a 21st century guest, but just one of legions who have found rest behind these walls. Prepare yourself to enjoy the hospitality within. So many travelers have arrived from faraway lands, so many Sevillians have found repose and sustenance here, before carrying on with their tasks and chores.
The Seville of ancient days was a city full of life, its streets arteries through which streams of travelers from all parts of the world passed, drawn by the whiff of business born up by the discovery of the New World. El Rio Grande, o Guadalquivir, had always blessed these fertile plains, surrounding it like a silver ribbon, or like a dove’s collar, according to Ibn Hazm, the Arabic poet, but now it was also laden with gold brought from beyond the seas, and so thousands of men turned up on the city’s river banks to see if any part of its riches might end up lining their pockets.
Merchants, moneychangers, sailors, slaves, servants, artisans, tradesmen, clergymen off to evangelize, artists who’d come to adorn the hundreds of convents and monasteries that were founded or being refurbished, having become the mother houses of religious orders recently formed on the other side of the Atlantic. Rogues, rascals, conmen and thieves also rendezvoused here, in the city of blue skies and lime-painted walls. The city had become both port and gateway to the Indies, the very center and scepter of the civilized world.
The great din and racket, an infinite melting pot of opposites, of light and shadow, of wealth and misery, of nobility and cunning, of saintliness and vice, of gold and copper, of pleasure and pain… the famed Posada, where you now stand and which welcomes you, was for many long years and centuries the very threshold of such contradictory yet life-giving activity.
Between these rough-hewn columns, you can hear the echo of voices past, of corsairs and muleteers, of voyagers and Indians, of monks and masters, of thieves, squires, servants, marriage brokers and lovers’ go-betweens, of famed characters and renowned artists, of rich men, lords, cardsharps and saints.
If you touch the cold stone of the patio’s columns, you might feel the warmth of kisses stolen by couples seeking refuge beneath the patio’s arches at dawn, when only dim candlelight exposed their trysts and fed the trembling but bright flame of their love. You might also feel the warmth of the blood spilled and splattered during drunken tavern brawls, the long nights of party and song and burning jealousy and mad love, and the flash of daggers pointed and aimed in the relentless light of the moon.
Mules, horses, oxen, donkeys… beasts and mounts of all kinds passed though the high gate, as tired as their riders and masters, their hooves resonating against the cobbles, finally able to take rest in the dusty stables, redolent of oats and hay, after long journeys across vast, fertile plains, and dry, red earth and wheat fields brilliant under a ruthless Andalusian sun, arriving from Córdoba, Carmona, Écija or Alcalá del Rio..., olive groves and rambling ranch lands having bid them welcome and then farewell along the way, rushing streams urging them on in the last miles before the city walls. Off in the distance, like an arrow rising up from the plain, the slender tower of the Giralda greeted them from afar, the bells of angelus sounding, calling the city-dwellers to matins or vespers. Imagine the joy surging up in the hearts of travelers, knowing they were near to the fantastic city of light, with its longed-for myrtle, orange and palm trees swaying on the banks, the sonorous rustle harmonizing with the flow and lapping of the Guadalquivir.
You too, traveler, have come from afar, to rest and find shelter in these storied walls of plaster, clay and stone, to live an adventure in a city sought out by travelers since time immemorial, constructed of Roman marble, adorned by fine Arabic lusterware, Renaissance courtyards, baroque palaces, gothic cathedrals and Moorish chapels, the brick the color of a blushing maiden’s skin. Melancholic fountains trickle amidst myrtles and cypresses, courtyards and alleyways emanate the perfume of geraniums and spearmint, and all-but-forgotten convents of past grandeur ring their bronze bells, having once heralded the arrival of emperors and kings.
Welcome to Seville! Welcome to Hotel Posada del Lucero!