We are now going to talk about one of the most charming squares in Seville, the “Plaza de Doña Elvira”. To learn more about the Santa Cruz neighborhood, we suggest you to book our Free Tour of Santa Cruz. This square was created in the 19th century during the french invasion, who wanted open spaces to avoid local ambushes. In this square was located the most important “Corral de Comedias” in the city, the “Corral de Doña Elvira”.
Her name, Doña Elvira, has its origin in the fact that she was the daughter of Don Pedro López de Ayala, who received from King Enrique III the old Jewish “aljama” and properties after the attacks on them in 1391.
Later, the Dukes of Gelves, descendants of Elvira López de Ayala, built here the corral of comedies that they called Doña Elvira.
At this point it is interesting to talk about a well-known legend in the city in relation to this square. As we have said, this square is named after the Corral de Comedias of the descendants of Doña Elvira López de Ayala. More than three centuries later, another relevant person for the city would be placed here, Don Miguel de Mañara. This Miguel de Mañara founded the Hospital de la Caridad, which was a place dedicated to helping the sick people of the city. He is considered one of most important Sevillians, giving to the city, not only his charity work, but also a church that is a jewel of Sevillian Baroque. Already in the 19th century, a campaign was started to beatify this Miguel de Mañara. At the same time, another campaign was started by the anticlericals of the time in order to discredit him. At that time, there was a writer in the city, José Zorrilla, who listened to these rumors and used them as a basis to write his Don Juan Tenorio book. It was said that Miguel de Mañara was a young man with a bad life, who was challenged to seduce a nun, who was said to be Doña Elvira. He fell then in love with her. While he was in this square, where Doña Elvira was supposed to live, it is said that he saw his own funeral, which made him change his life and give himself to the Christian life. Miguel de Mañara would be Don Juan Tenorio and Doña Elvira would be Doña Inés. We also know that this legend gave name to three streets in this area: Death Street, current Susona Street, Coffin Street, current Life Street, and Scythe Street, current Glory Street. The names were changed in an attempt to improve the neighborhood.
Don Juan, therefore, would be based on the legends created to disrepute Miguel de Mañara that arose in the 19th century by the anticlerical sectors of the city.