People You'll See in the Streets of Seville


Walking through the center of Sevilla gives you the opportunity to see a lot of different people. Aside from the average city-dweller, there are types you'll become accustomed to seeing the longer you live in Seville. The folks range from entertaining to dangerous, amusing to annoying and useful to useless.

I've tried not to pass too much judgment on the various types, but some you need to be warned about. As well, I've tried not to offend anyone with my descriptions, keeping them as neutral as possible considering the circumstances. The types you'll see:


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Lottery tickets

Lottery ticket salesmen (ONCE)

During the day you can't move through the center or sit in a bar too long before seeing one of these folks. On Tetuan or Sierpes you're bound to hear their sales pitch - "el diecenueve! el diecenueve!" or whatever number they have - as they sell their daily tickets. ONCE was initially set-up to help the blind and others with disabilities. While still serving that purpose it's grown into a giant corporation, holding significant shares in several radio and television stations, as well as other businesses.

Oompa Loompa

Oompa Loompas the little orange men...

As with the above, you can't pass through the center late at night without seeing the "little orange men" cleaning the streets. Some of them are big, too. But with their orange suits and brooms they have a striking resemblance to the guys from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Not every city in Spain has Oompa Loompas: some cities have another color for their suits.

Living Statues

Living Statue on Calle Tetuan These are often seen in the main shopping district where there is good foot traffic. Sometimes they pop up at Feria or other places. Most of these folks, like the silver-painted cowboy who is a common site these days, go to elaborate lengths for their costumes. They stand completely still until you throw some change in the hat in front of them, which provokes some kind of movement. My brother-in-law noticed a fellow throw 1 centimo in the hat, for which he got a response of a middle finger from the statue.


Not too many around but from time to time I an older fellow with a little hair, a red nose and all the paint. Working with dogs, musical instruments or balloons; often times in tandem and sometimes solo I've seen these guys close to La Campana, looking for children with parents willing to part with a little change.

Dancing Dogs

I don't know whether to laugh or cry for the little dogs, but it seems like they're having fun. Generally you'll see an older fellow playing a trumpet while dogs in dirty flamenco dresses dance around on two feet in circles. A woman is there with them only for the purpose of asking for money. These folks don't show up often in the center, and recently the dogs have turned into one dog, and the flamenco dress is no longer there. In fact, instead of dancing they simply pull the one dog up by his leash and he stands there on two feet.

Musicians: talented groups

These can be quite good, from a 4 piece string band, to the commonly found Ecuadorian flute band. Sometimes in Plaza Salvador on Sunday's you'll see a wired group, playing covers of Jarabe de Palo and other groups. Most often you'll find them in the main shopping district of Sierpes and Tetuan, where you'll see groups of people who have stopped to listen. If you stop you should throw them some change, but it's not obligatory.

Musicians: The less talented groups

These are people who rarely produce a crowd, rather people try and make their way around the front person with a basket or hat asking for money. Showing up anywhere from Sierpes and Tetuan or some of the smaller shopping streets towards the Alfalfa.

Musicians: Solo performers

There's a great variety of these people: guitar, violin, horn, accordion, keyboard, even a fellow recently with a didgeridoo. The same as they are everywhere - with a hat or instrument case in front for you to throw money in as you walk by. The quality of the performance tends to vary more than the groups above.

Musicians: Restaurant "performers"

These are separated from the above two, and may really belong in the "Just cash, thanks" category below. But they do try and perform. Often the worst musicians of the bunch I've covered and generally guitar players (sometimes with only 3 strings). They play a song, or two if you're unlucky, next to an outside cafe or restaurant and then go table to table asking for money. A few variation son the types are women (or a woman) who sings and dances a little flamenco, or the guys who simply clap while singing off-key.

Spontaneous Street Vendors

Street vendor You'll see these on Calles Tetuan and Sierpes or next to Nervión Plaza. They lay out a blanket and sell crafts and clothing from Latin America or Africa, as well as pirated CD's and DVD's. Most often immigrants here illegally, but not always. You'll see them quickly pick up their merchandise and run off once the police are near.

Flower vendors

Roses and jasmine are the most likely types, these flower-pushers enter into bars or hit the outdoor cafes. If you're sitting with your girlfriend they'll hit you up first, but don't shy away from the groups.

Chestnut Roasters

During the winter time there's nothing like chestnuts roasting on an open fire. roasting chestnutsThese are sold from carts where they roast the chestnuts in front of you and then wrap up a bunch in a paper cone for you to munch in the street.

Shoe Shine

Whether you have a pair of tennis shoes are a nice pair of loafers they may be sitting ducks. Around the center from time to time these guys are looking


Generally older men with a few cartons of cigarettes in a bag, they're most often selling Winston cigarettes from Morocco, where the tobacco is said to be better than the Spanish variety. Many times they refer to it as American tobacco. You'll hear their calls from the street: "Ween-stone, Ween-stone".

Chucheria Carrito

Chucheria They are always around, but even more so during Semana Santa, late at night near an outdoor bar or in a plaza during a weekend day. They typically sell candy, chips, soda and a few games for the kids.


You may notice some fellow near El Corte Inglés selling what looks like a bunch of twigs bundled up. This is regaliz the natural licorice. You can chew on the stick to produce the same flavor as the candy.

Los Gorrillas (Street Parkers)

Not gorillas, but gorrillas, these are the people likely without a job who help anyone driving by to park their car. They're very territorial - they don't just decide to set up shop on any old street. Whether or not you need a parking space they'll point one out as you pass by. If you choose to park you are choosing their service and their help. Expect a problem if you don't offer them some change, but you don't have to offer them much. Better to pay once you park rather than risk a problem.


My personal favorite is the knife-sharpener who roams the streets maybe once a week. Pushing a moto and playing a few notes on a small flute-like instrument as his call to the people who may need his services. Restaurants and or individuals who need their kitchen knives sharpened come out to the street. The fellow has a grinding wheel attached to his moto which spins faster as he revs up the engine. He'll do the work right there in the street.

Chatarero (junk vendors)

Hauling little carts through the streets with mostly junk but a few possible antiques you can chose to sell or buy something as they pass buy. You'll hear their shouts of se compra y se vende muebles antiguos!

Incienso (Incense)

Most often I see a fellow near Plaza Salvador or close to Sierpes, but they pop up everywhere in the center. The main thing you can buy is the incense they use during Semana Santa or in the churches. They burn it in a little clay pot and you'll no doubt smell it in the streets before you see the vendor.


As you leave the center and make your way out of town (or into the neighborhoods further out) you may see a fellow or two selling travel packs of tissues at a stop light. I've never figured this one out, but apparently they do some business as they've been doing it for years now. Once you stop they'll walk up and down the lane of parked cars. They aren't doing a hard sell - if you don't need them they keep going to the next car.

Gitanas at the Cathedral

Gitana near the Cathedral Ok, this I think is the worst bunch. They prey on tourists and aren't looking for petty change. Recently they've been on Avenida de constitución between the Cathedral and Archivo de Indias. They'll try and hand you a twig of Rosemary - DO NOT TAKE IT! Once you've accepted something they'll try to read your palm. Seems cute, doesn't it? It is until they ask you for 30 or 40 Euros! They may ask for a little less but they may also ask for more. This is no "change in your pocket" type of transaction. And if you say you don't have anything they'll get upset, maybe ask you to go to the ATM and withdraw the money. You'll have a very hard time getting away from the situation once you've accepted anything from them, so just keep walking by and don't even make eye contact.

Charity Change Can Shakers

There are some legitimate ones out there asking for money for a real charity. Others are so aggressive that you know something's wrong. They may try to put a sticker on you (much like the "I gave blood today" ones you'll see in the U.S.) before you donate any money. They may put themselves in front of you and where you want to go. Others simply won't leave you alone until you make it clear you don't have any money or chose not to "donate" to their cause. They are almost always moving around Puerta de Jerez as you make your way to the Torre del Oro. If not there you'll find them near the Cathedral on the Avenida de constitución side.

Church Beggars

Entering in most churches (aside from the Cathedral) there may be a man or woman standing next to the door. A lot of times they'll hold the door open for you as you go in, and when you come out hit you up for money. They aren't aggressive and they do hold the door open for you. I see the same guy every day who works two churches down the street from our house.

Street Beggars

These range from the average person roaming in a street and asking each person for money to the folks that put themselves in the middle of the street on a piece of cardboard with a box for you to throw money into. Some will plead for money while others may remain silent. Some are very worthy of a little change while others you'll need to judge for yourself.

Table Beggars

Hitting up the tables of outdoor restaurants and cafes they simply move from table to table asking for a bit of change. It may take a few times of you saying no to get them to go away.

Romanian Lighter Scams

One of the worst scams of the bunch, I think. Did you know that there are 50-100 folks in Sevilla with "4 brothers and sisters in Romania who don't have enough to eat, someone in the hospital, no place to live, and..." Well, I won't go into it too much but before the story starts to hit your soft side know that these folks all have the same exact message printed out which they hand to you. They go into bars and restaurants and leave the note and a small lighter on your table. Then they come back and ask for money. As with others in this category it may take a few times of you saying no to get rid of them.


These people could go under the solo musicians category but I don't think they're putting much into their musical skills. These aren't the flowered dress variety you may see in other parts. I hate to say it but most of these folks are just downright dirty - looks like they haven't showered in weeks or months. Usually accompanied by a pack of un bathed dogs you tend to see them in groups. Often times harmless, while in the streets they may play the recorder while another asks for money.

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Editor: Jeff Spielvogel
© 2004 JS