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She has not abandoned me…

NO8DO Drain Cover

Five symbols squeeze together, like children trying to fit into one photograph.


It’s written on unfurling flags and bullfighting programmes, embossed on drain covers and printed on parking fines.

This year’s Feria entrance, a candy pink behemoth iced with light bulbs, revealed the same five merry marks, crushed together so hard that number 8 popped out at the top

NO8DO, the motto of Seville. What’s it all about?

NO8DO, the motto of Seville. What’s it all about?

NO8DO Lightbulbs

The key to the puzzle lies in the central number eight, said to resemble a skein of yarn (and yes, I had to look up “skein” – it’s a loose coil of yarn or wool, the sort my grandmother used to buy for her knitting.)

The Spanish word for this is madeja, so the sentence becomes no madeja do, which makes as much sense as standing in front of a charging bull, until you realise that it sounds like no me ha dejado. She has not abandoned me.

It makes as much sense as standing in front of a charging bull

In the city that inspired Carmen, the feisty temptress who drove policemen to murderous jealousy, it’s easy to imagine NO8DO as the result of a passionate love affair. Yet, it’s more complicated than that: a family betrayal underpins the story.

NO8DO Flag

Back in the 13th century, King Alfonso X The Wise struggled to fend off an attack by his own son, Sancho. In a bitter battle for the throne, Seville stayed loyal and Alfonso rewarded Europe’s hottest city with a slogan to celebrate its fidelity.

It’s more complicated than that…

Seven hundred years later, Seville still remembers. Every day, everywhere.

NO8DO. She has not abandoned me.

NO8DO Feria Entrance

NO8DO – Town Hall Notice

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12 Responses to She has not abandoned me…

  1. Eli June 10, 2010 at 8:31 am #

    That’s crazy. Like an inside joke for the whole city. Not a joke, really, but a little secret. I like it. Especially how they incoded it into a five character symbol that looks like something completely different on the surface.

  2. ciki June 11, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    wow, i hope on my hubby’s death bed he will say that of me! ;) (and i of him! – just change the gender)

  3. Abi June 14, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    I like that description, Eli. An inside joke for the whole city – and for those who visited and loved it. See this update to see what I mean!

    ciki – ah!

  4. Shannon OD June 17, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    That is just too neat that the whole city is in on this private (and yet not private) story, I imagine that is fosters a deeper sense of community for those in the know – too cool! :-)

    • Gayla~ December 3, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      I agree. Definitely a deeper sense of community and ‘unity’ for those that understood the meaning. Great ‘gift’ to the townfolk :-)

  5. Abi June 29, 2010 at 11:37 am #

    I think it’s fair to say that the people of Seville are proud of their city – this is a nice way of showing it.

  6. Connie Bowman October 25, 2010 at 10:17 pm #

    I was just in Sevilla and was told by someone that lives there that it means, “God has not abandoned me.” “No me ha dejado Dios.”

    • Abi November 3, 2010 at 10:29 am #

      Interesting… That doesn’t seem to fit with the symbol for wool, though. Ah, unless that symbol is supposed to be infinity? Hm…

  7. Emilia Rollan November 27, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    ¡Enhorabuena! Es una muy buena descripción del significado del lema de Sevilla. Es cierto, fue otorgado a la ciudad por el rey Alfonso X El Sabio. Este rey era famoso por su afición a los acertijos, de ahí que usase uno para agradecer la lealtad de la ciudad.

    Hay un libro bastante bueno sobre las leyendas de Sevilla: “Leyendas y tradiciones sevillanas” de José María de Mena, ahí se explica, entre otras, la historia del “no madeja do”.

    Gracias por compartir a mi ciudad con el mundo :)

    • Abi December 6, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

      De nada! Me gusta mucho Sevilla :-)

  8. sofie November 14, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    Interesting! I’d never heard of that sentence…

    • Abi December 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

      You can’t miss it once you’re in Seville. It’s everywhere…