More beautiful destinations in Seville, Spain.
Plaza de España
This bombastic plaza in the Parque de María Luisa was the most grandiose of the building projects completed for the 1929 Exposición Iberoamericana. A huge brick-and-tile confection, it’s all very over the top, but it’s undeniably impressive with its fountains, mini-canals and Venetian-style bridges. A series of gaudy tile pictures depict maps and historical scenes from each Spanish province.
You can hire row boats to ply the canals for €6 (for 35 minutes).
Museo de Bellas Artes
Housed in the beautiful former Convento de la Merced, Seville’s Fine Arts Museum provides an elegant showcase for a comprehensive collection of Spanish and Sevillan paintings and sculptures. Works date from the 15th to 20th centuries, but the onus is very much on brooding religious paintings from the city’s 17th-century Siglo de Oro (Golden Age).
Works are displayed in chronological order, with the Golden Age masterpieces clustered in salas V to X. The most visually arresting room is the convent’s former church (sala V), hung with paintings by masters of the Sevillan baroque, above all Murillo. His Inmaculada concepción grande (1650) at the head of the church displays all the curving, twisting movement so central to baroque art. Other artists represented include Pacheco (teacher and father-in-law of Velázquez), Juan de Valdés Leal, Zurbarán (look for his deeply sombre Cristo crucificado, c 1630–35) and sculptor Juan Martínez Montañés.
Also of note is El Greco’s portrait of his son Jorge Manuel (c 1600–05), Velázquez’s Cabeza de apóstol (1620), and a portrait by Goya in sala XI.
Archivo de Indias
Occupying a former merchant’s exchange on the western side of Plaza del Triunfo, the Archivo de Indias provides a fascinating insight into Spain’s colonial history. The archive, established in 1785 to house documents and maps relating to Spain’s American empire, is vast, boasting 7km of shelves, 43,000 documents, and 80 million pages dating from 1492 to the end of the empire in the 19th century. Most documents are filed away but you can examine some fascinating letters and hand-drawn maps.
Information panels (mostly in Spanish) and a short film tell the full story of the building, itself an impressive sight, and recount the history of the archive. The Renaissance building was extensively refurbished in 2005.
Casa de Pilatos
The haunting Casa de Pilatos, which is still occupied by the ducal Medinaceli family, is one of the city’s most glorious mansions. Originally dating to the late 15th century, it incorporates a wonderful mixture of Mudéjar, Gothic and Renaissance decor, with some beautiful tile work and artesonados (ceilings of interlaced beams with decorative insertions). The overall effect is like a mini-Alcázar.
The staircase to the upper floor has the building’s finest tiles, and a great golden artesonado dome above. Visits to the upper floor, still partly inhabited by the Medinacelis, are guided. Of interest are several centuries’ worth of Medinaceli portraits and a small Goya bullfighting painting.
Hope you enjoy your time in Spain!
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