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Posts tagged ‘museum’

Seville | Triana Ceramics Museum

ceramics museum (1)award-winning interior design by AF6 Arquitectos

The Triana district of Seville has long been famous, among other reasons, as an important pottery and ceramics producing area (the Plaza España was designed partly as a showcase for Triana ceramics). However, although you can still find pottery shops, and even a few small scale workshops, in the Alfarería (a place where pottery is made or sold) neighbourhood behind the market, the industry is sadly not what it once was, and it’s perhaps a sign of the times that one of its most famous landmarks has recently opened as a museum.

The Ceramica Santa Ana, on the corner of San Jorge and Callao streets, has one of the most famous frontages in Seville (decoration and signage in ceramic tile, of course), and still functions as a shop and showroom, and the Centro Ceramica de Triana (the museum) can be found in the building next door, which used to be the Santa Ana pottery factory. It’s not much to look at from outside, but as soon as you walk past the reception area you realise that this is because everything faces inwards into the main courtyard – the principal production area of the factory. The exhibition areas are in the buildings overlooking the courtyard, which have a facing of randomly sized pottery tubes called a celosia, which provides shade for the interiors while still allowing light to enter. The installations, designed by Miguel Hernández Valencia and Esther López Martin of architects AF6, are a blend of traditional and modern, partly inspired by the objects that were left lying around when the factory closed.

ceramics museum (6)mural made from baked clay pieces found in the factory

Not surprisingly, given the availability of suitable clays in the immediate vicinity, the history of pottery making here goes back a long way, at least as far as the Romans. Indeed, two of Seville’s patron Saints, Justa and Rufina, martyred here in the 3rd century, are traditionally said to have been potters. Under the Moors new techniques were introduced, and the craft of making decorated tiles in particular reached its peak. Later Italian and Flemish styles flourished, but there was a gradual decline until the 19th century, when an English potter and trader named Charles Pickman opened a modern factory in the Cartuja. Other entrepreneurs followed suite, and the revived industry reached a new peak in the early 20th century. Failure to modernise, however, led to another decline and many of the local manufacturers went out of business in the 1960s and 1970s.

ceramics museum (2)restored 18th century hand-painted tile panel

The core of the new museum is still the old kilns, which are of various ages stretching back to at least the 16th century, the ponds for storing the wet clay, and mills and basins for pigments. Upstairs there is a temporary exhibition about the restoration work carried out by the museum, and two permanent exhibitions, one detailing the history of local pottery making and techniques, with collections of locally made pieces, and the other about the neighbourhood of Triana, its traditions, and its fierce sense of local pride. These make it an excellent area to rent an apartment and experience the real character of a local neighbourhood. Below you can watch a video showing the restauration of the museum.

Seville | Bullfighting

maestranza bullring sevilla

“Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honour.” Ernest Hemingway Death in the Afternoon 1932

After flamenco, watching a bullfight is seen as one of the top priorities for getting in touch with the local culture of Spain, and although it’s perhaps less central than it was even 50 years ago, in the south bullfighting is still both popular and big business, as well as a source of many iconic images. So whether you regard it as an inhumane bloodsport or a form of art, like Hemingway did, there remains a fascination with the matador standing alone in the ring in the glare of the late afternoon sun with his cape and sword, pitting his skill against the brute strength of the bull.

Official poster for 2013 featuring Juan Belmonte

Official poster for 2013 featuring famed Sevillano matador Juan Belmonte

Seville’s bullring (La Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla) is located next to the river in the Arenal neighbourhood. It’s the oldest in Spain, the first corrida having been held there in 1765, and the original model on which most later bullrings were based, with its carpet of yellow sand (albero) and circular tiered seating rising to an arched colonnade that protects the most expensive seats from the sun. When there are no bullfights you can still visit the arena and the bullfighting museum and experience its unique atmosphere for yourself.

The main bullfighting season is in April, during the Spring Fair. This year the daily corridas (the standard bullfight) run from April 10 to April 22, followed by a season of novilladas (fights featuring young bulls and novice bullfighters) on Sundays during May. There is also a short season in late September, during the Feria de San Miguel. Prices depend on the type of bullfight and on where you’re sitting relative to the arena and the sun (sol, sombra, or sol y sombra) and for corridas start from 13 euros (if you don’t mind sitting with the sun in your eyes) and go up to 155 euros ‘face value’ for the best seats.

For a great view of the bullring from across the river, stay in one of our apartments on Calle Betis.

Seville | Things to do When it Rains

Although Seville enjoys around 300 days of sunshine a year, from time to time, particularly in winter – for example, like this week – you can get relatively long spells of wet weather. But it would be a shame to let that spoil your holiday, so we’ve come up with a list of suggestions for things to do for those rare occasions when the sun isn’t shining.

rainy plazaPlaza de la Alfalfa

Go to the cinema
The Avenida 5 Cines complex in Calle Marques de Paradas shows current movies in original versions. Curl up with your favourite stars and never mind the weather. Check the programme here (it changes every Friday).

The Museum of Fine Arts
One of Spain’s most important art museums with works by all the Spanish old masters including local boys made good Velazquez and Murillo. It’s in a lovely old building that was once the convent of the Order of Merced Calzada de la Asunción. Well worth taking a couple of hours.

The Cathedral
The Cathedral is on your list anyway, and you don’t want to waste good sunshine time indoors, so visit it now. It’s the biggest Gothic cathedral, and third largest church, in the world, but it isn’t just big, it’s actually rather interesting, with the tomb of Christopher Columbus, lots of gold, and a stuffed crocodile.

eating in the rainGo Shopping
Another of those activities that normally keeps you indoors when you’d rather be outdoors. Take advantage of the fact that everyone else is still at home to shop in peace. You don’t even have to buy anything unless you really want to.

Tapas Bars
Find a nice cosy tapas bars and order up a round (or two) of food and drinks. Sit where you can watch the poor unfortunates outside hurrying past with their umbrellas, and feel suitably smug because you’re on holiday. Or put your own umbrella to good use like this fellow and defy the elements.

The Antiquarium and Encarnación Market
Going topside may not be so great in the rain (though there are some nice bars up there), but going down under the “mushrooms” in the Plaza de la Encarnación takes you to the Roman ruins and museum. Marvel at the mosaics, columns, walls and wells while listening to the rain on the roof. If you’re there in the morning you can also take a stroll through the Encarnación market on the main level. This will work up your appetite ready for lunch.

Stay at Home
It may be the last resort, but you’re staying in a warm, comfy veoapartment, and there’s something primevally satisfying about being indoors and listening to the rain outside. So grab a book and a glass of wine, turn on the telly and settle down for an hour or two. The sun will be out soon enough.