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'Mucho arte': Why do Andalusians say they have a lot of 'art'?

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'Mucho arte': Why do Andalusians say they have a lot of 'art'?
A man smokes while drinking beer with friends at the terrace of a bar in Sevilla on August 13, 2020. Photo: CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP.

If you live in Spain's Andalusia region, you might have heard locals refer to themselves as having 'mucho arte' (literally, a lot of art). What do they actually mean by this and what does it say about the character of Andalusian people?


If you live in or have visited Spain's southern region of Andalusia, you may well have heard locals describing someone (or themselves) as having mucho arte.

Famous for their dialect (as well as the sometimes rather indecipherable accent), andaluces have a wide range of words and phrases that you rarely hear elsewhere in the country.

READ ALSO: A handy guide to understanding Spain's regional accents

Notable examples include ¡No ni ná! (used disbelievingly to mean something along the lines of 'of course'), quillo/a (or illo/a) to address someone, or todo flama (a Sevillano version of todo bien, meaning all good or everything's OK/fine).

So what exactly does mucho arte mean? Or as many Andalusians say, musho arte with a 'sh' sound.

How can a person have a lot of art? Are the Andalusian people known as art collectors? Not exactly.

In Andalusia, a person that tiene arte (has art) is someone known to have a lot of charisma, a good sense of humour and generally considered lively and fun to be around.

In English we might say someone is a 'good laugh' or a ‘hoot’. And if you've spent time in Andalusia, you probably know that this is a stereotype that generally holds up.


Andaluces are known for their easy going, hedonistic nature and good sense of humour. They enjoy socialising on an almost daily basis, spending the evenings with friends and family outdoors as they sip on cold beers, rebujitos or tintos de verano in a bar terrace to cool down after a sizzling day.

In this sense, the concept of having mucho arte describes the Andalusian character itself, something that is as big a part of the region's cultural identity as Semana Santa, Flamenco dancing or Cruzcampo beer.

READ ALSO: The good, the bad and the ugly: What are the regional stereotypes across Spain?

Everyone in Andalusia, even those who aren't actual artists, have plenty of 'art'. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)


Outside of Andalusia having arte is generally used to say that someone has a special ability to do something, a sort of flair or guile. For example, if someone is a really good cook, you could say ,tienes arte cocinando, literally meaning 'you have art at cooking'.

In Andalusia it can also be used to describe someone who is talented as well - a skilled Spanish guitarist or flamenco dancer will likely be told ¡Olé, que arte! (Bravo, what skill!) by his or her audience - but in this region of 8.4 million people pretty much everyone has arte because of that quintessentially Andalusian way of living life.  


This stereotype is nothing new. In fact, over the centuries many foreigners have observed that one of the most typical things about Andalusia is the open, charismatic and passionate character of its people, with their sense of humour, their lively conversation, and their laid back philosophy that allows them to go through life seemingly stress-free - and with musho arte, of course.

During the times of the Moorish conquest, geographer and scholar Muhammad Ibn Abi Bakr al-Zuhrî wrote the following about Sevillanos in the 12th century: "Its inhabitants are amiable, elegant, cheeky, insolent and distinguished.''

If you visit Seville or Granada today, you’ll likely still come across a few locals like this.

READ MORE: Why do people from Granada have a reputation for being moody?

After the Reconquista, 17th century historian Ahmad al-Maqqari also said that ''the inhabitants of al-Andalus have a way of joking in their conversation, of saying things with a certain gentleness and of giving such spontaneous replies that they reduce you to silence'.

Is it any wonder that Andalusians are as proud of their mucho arte ways as of as their architecture, culture, history and gastronomy? It runs in their blood.

READ ALSO: Why are Spaniards so 'loud'?


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