Before visiting my son in Spain last month I had read about the city of Sevilla's cryptic official symbol, which dates to the 13th century. I was delighted on my first morning there to come across the lovely calligraphic (and I think, letterpress) rendition above. And as promised in the guidebooks, it was everywhere.
On Christopher Columbus' tomb in the cathedral:
At the Plaza de España:
On the sidewalks:
On the utility trucks:
And just about everywhere you look, in some delightful rendition.
So what does it mean? The symbol's history involves Alfonso the Wise (the "Scholar King") and Sevilla's singular loyalty to him in the face of his son Sancho's attempted overthrow. What seems to be an "8" is a representation of a skein of wool, or madeja. The play on words is a contraction of "No me ha dejado", or "She [Seville] has not abandoned me." When spoken, the "me ha" typically is run together, making "NO-m[eh]adeja-DO". A little confusing, but charming nonetheless! For the full story, click here and scroll down to "Motto".