All over Seville you can spot the curious cipher, NO 8 DO. Sometimes it's conspicuous, on a police car for instance; but more often then not, it's less so, as on a bike rack. The above photo appeared on a park railing.
The symbol stems from the 11th century, when the Catholics launched a reconquista in an attempt to take southern Spain back from the Moors. When the war went on for too long, as they sometimes do, King Alfonso struck a truce with the Moors, which angered his son Sancho, who, in a typical bout of father/son one-upmanship, attempted a rebellion against his father, but the Sevillian people ignored Sancho's little tantrum and stayed loyal to Alfonso, which is when he uttered the now-iconic phrase, "me han dejado," or "you have not deserted me." The phrase morphed from its medieval iteration to no madeja do, "madeja" meaning wool in Spanish, which led to the compact emblem NO 8 DO, with the 8 serving as symbol for twisted wool.
I don't quite get it all either, it's so much like a game of telephone gone terribly awry. But I thought it would be a fitting story to tell, given that we "desert" Seville for Madrid tomorrow, and then on Saturday, to New York. I was going to weave it all together into a nice, succinct history lesson-cum-farewell, but we can all see how I've failed miserably at that attempt, so I instead will leave you with this: