Osuna is a small white town in the province of Sevilla in Andalucía. It’s about 40 minutes north of Olvera with the same Spanish charm I love about southern Spain. It has about 18,000 people. You can get there by bus, train, or car.
Why We Went To Osuna
I have to admit, Osuna wasn’t on my list of places in Spain to see, but when I heard Game of Thrones was filming in Osuna, it immediately jumped to the top of my list! We had visa appointments in Cádiz on Friday morning so we caught a bus there Thursday night and picked up our visas Friday morning. Then, we went to the train station and found out that the earliest train to Osuna wasn’t until 6:30 p.m.! So we did the next best thing and caught a 2.5-hour bus.
The whole bus ride I was searching for a place we could stay for the weekend (buses don’t run on Saturdays)…there were no hotels with availability! I guess we weren’t the only ones trying to see the popular tv show filming. I found an Airbnb we could stay in with a Spanish guy and his Austrian girlfriend and was about to confirm this when I got an email from Hotel Esmeralda saying they had availability for only 80€ per night! Of course we had to stay two nights because we could only catch a bus back on Sunday, but it was a fair and decent price to pay to try to spy on some pre-season filming.
We arrived in Osuna around 4:30 p.m., found our hotel, checked in, and got settled. We wanted to make the most out of the day so we immediately went back out to explore. What a beautiful town! It was bigger than Olvera so we had a lot of ground to cover to get comfortable with our weekend getaway town. Osuna boasts many incredible baroque palaces, mansions, and churches dating back to the 16th-18th century. We found the famous bull ring which was pretty big for such a small town. Anibal Gonzalez designed it in 1904 and it seats 6,500 people. It’s open daily for tours from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., closes for siesta, and reopens back up from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
The bull ring was the scene of Daznak’s Pit in Meereen, and we saw hints of this filming. However, since it was late on Friday (and apparently Emilia Clark’s birthday, which we’d find out later – see my blog post on hanging out with her that night), the filming had ended and we were free to walk around and explore. We decided to grab an early dinner (by Spanish standards) on the way back to the hotel. Around 7:00 p.m. we grabbed tapas and drinks at one of the cute local restaurants, eating dinner outside in the street to add to the ambience. Local Spanish kids were running around dressed up in Game of Thrones costumes to celebrate the occasion.
After dinner, we were walking home and saw lots of people crowded outside Casa Curro, another local Spanish bar. It turned out, the cast and crew were celebrating Emilia Clarke’s birthday in there that night. We managed to sneak into the party by speaking English and pretending like we belonged. For a more in-depth account of the rest of the night, read on here. It was a long night that ended around 4:00 a.m., but it was well worth the lack of sleep and hangover!
Saturday was our day to really explore Osuna and see the city. We had all day to see the sights! It was a beautiful October day so we wandered around the streets, shopped at some of the local stores, and went back to Casa Curro for lunch. The owner remembered us and came over to give us a personalized greeting and make sure we had fun the previous night. We felt famous after only about 15 hours in the town and have made new friends! When siesta hit and everything closed up, we wandered to the Plaza Mayor, found the train station, and took a trip down some side streets to really enjoy the white town.
When we needed a rest, we decided to go back to Hotel Esmeralda and check out the rooftop pool. It was just what the doctor ordered for some rest and relaxation during siesta! Luckily, I brought my bathing suit and a beach towel because we had planned to go to Cádiz anyway, so I laid out in a chair while James splashed around in the pool. The hotel was high enough that the view overlooked the entire town with a backdrop of the Sierra de Cádiz. Osuna really is in the middle of fields and nothingness!
After some time in the sun, a nap, and a shower, siesta was over and we headed back out for dinner. We ended up on the main street of Osuna at one of the many restaurants offering outside seating on the sidewalk to enjoy the views and passersby. There was a soccer game on, so just about the entire town was out and about (the Spanish feel about fútbol the way Americans feel about football). No sooner did we sit down than did we see about 20 guys from the Game of Thrones crew sitting behind us! Again, it felt great to have so many friends in a new town only a day into being there.
We were talking on Facebook to a few other English auxiliares that were in town; two lived in Osuna and were teaching English at the local schools there, and one other had caught a blablacar from her town to come see the Game of Thrones festivities in Osuna. They met us at the restaurant and we all got to know each other. Liz and Jake were from New Mexico (not Mexico, but New Mexico – inside joke) and had just graduated college and were taking a year before graduate school and work to teach English in Osuna.
Kim-Ling was from Australia, teaching English in Pozoblanco and waiting for her husband, Guy, to join her on her Spanish adventure. That day we made lifelong friends that we will continue to keep in touch with because we realized that other people who do this program are just like us: happy, friendly, free-spirited, adventure-seeking people. We all really got along! This was just the first adventure of many that will include our new friends.
After dinner, Liz and Jake took us around Osuna to show us the town. They showed us the Hotel Palacio Marques de Gomera where the Game of Thrones cast was staying. It’s one of the most upscale hotels in Osuna but hidden down a small side street. Ironically, the street’s name was Calle San Pedro, the same street we live on in Olvera! It’s a magnificent 18-century palace with a baroque façade and grand stone entrance. The rooms have antique furniture and vaulted ceilings with wooden beams. Prices are all over the place for this hotel; sometimes, it’s 800€ a night! Other times, it’s 80€ a night. If you get the chance, I’d recommend it for 80€ a night!
The other high-end hotel in Osuna is Hospederia del Monasterio with a walled terrace and rooftop swimming pool. It has 16th century stone walls, rooftop restaurant near the pool, and a view of the Colegiata.
Liz and Jake pointed out the University to us from afar. It’s on a hilltop overlooking Osuna and you can see it from almost every point of Osuna. It dates back to 1548. It looks more like a castle than a university but it’s still in use today. The 16th century Colegiata de Santa Maria de la Asunción is just in front of the University and contains the fine art collected by the Dukes of Osuna.
Liz and Jake also told us about the town’s museums, churches, palaces, and monuments. The Canteras is an archaeological site and former quarry where people quarried much of the golden sandstone used for Osuna’s buildings since pre-Roman times. There’s an archaeological museum, religious artifact museum, Iglesia de Santo Domingo church, and Palacio de Cabildo Colegial which looks like La Giralda in Sevilla
Saturday was a fun-filled day complete with a hangover from Friday night, so Saturday night was an early night for us. Sunday we woke up and checked out of the hotel, but decided to meet up with our new auxiliar friends for lunch before our train home. Since Game of Thrones was filming at the bull ring again (after taking Saturday off to nurse hangovers as well), we decided to have lunch at the restaurant just outside the bull ring. It was a perfect end to a perfect weekend, then we were off to the train.
While we were walking to the train station, James got a text from his new friend Jaime that he met Friday night. Jaime was in charge of the pyrotechnics for (spoiler alert) the dragon scenes, so he sent a picture to James of all the fire in the sandy bull pit arena. There was so much fire we couldn’t even tell what was going on though! James decided to run back to say bye to him; Jaime was another good friend James met and this wouldn’t be the last time we saw him either!
The story doesn’t end here. Since the train is easier than the bus, we decided to take the train back to Setenil instead. James worked in Setenil so we figured we could easily catch a bus or a ride back to Olvera. Little did we know that the Setenil train station was in the middle of literally nowhere. There were no cars, buildings, or people around, so we got out of the train in Setenil and it looked like an old Western ghost town. There was us and a stray dog running around.
After about 10 minutes, a conductor finally showed up, but he spoke no English at all. We managed to communicate with him enough to tell him our situation and he gave us a phone number of a taxi company, which also spoke no English. Somehow, we managed to tell the taxi company where we were and someone came and picked us up and we made our way back to Olvera late Sunday night (after leaving Osuna at 1:00 p.m.!) All in all, Osuna was a great weekend getaway and a lovely place to visit, whether Game of Thrones is there or not!