Contemporary Art, Plaza de España, Maria Luisa Park, Triana, and Hospital de la Caridad
October 31, 2019
During my last full day in Sevilla (Seville) I visited a small contemporary art gallery, Plaza España, María Luisa Park, the Triana District, and Hospital de la Caridad.
Contemporary Art at Hospital des los Venerables
A couple of days ago, in the afternoon, I visited Hospital des los Venerables. There, the woman at the admissions desk told me that an upstairs art gallery closed at 2:00 each day, but if I came back with my ticket I could get into the gallery for free another day. Today is another day.
It turns out this only-open-in-the-morning* gallery is a single, not terribly large room containing no more than a couple of dozen works of contemporary art, including drawings, paintings and posters.
Nice art. I was in and out in no more than 15 minutes. So, it was great gallery in my books.
* Morning seems to have a different meaning here. Signs in my hotel elevators warn that rush hour in the hotel breakfast room is between 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. As best I can tell, 2:00 p.m. would be an early lunch for locals. I see people eating what looks like lunch at outdoor tables at 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. This, I suppose, explains how they can eat dinner so late. Some restaurants don’t even open for dinner until 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. And many people (not me) go for dinner later than that.
Plaza de España
The oxymoron notwithstanding, Plaza de España is a semicircular square. Surrounding the square is a canal-like pool with bridges over it to the square.
A wide walkway surrounds the canal. Behind that, sits an imposing, attractive, horseshoe-shaped building. The building is constructed of reddish coloured bricks. Shortish (particularly shortish by Toronto skyscraper standards) towers punctuate each end of the horseshoe. Shorter towers dot the building between the two end towers.
The building was the Spanish pavilion at the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Niches at its base display decorative ceramic tiles representing cities from all of the provinces of Spain.
The square itself is probably normally quite attractive. Somewhere, I forget where, I saw a picture of it with a fountain shooting up. However, when I was there, they were setting up or dismantling (I’m not sure which) some sort of festival. Consequently, the fountain was off and a stage and some small tents, trucks, and equipment filled the square. As a friend of mine might say, “My mazel.”
María Luisa Park
Immediately beside Plaza España sits María Luisa Park (Parque de María Luisa). It’s a large, verdant park with lots of trees, bushes and water features. It’s perfect for a stroll and some slothful sitting. So that’s what I did.
The park also formed part of the grounds of the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929.
Triana is not a sight in Sevilla, as such, but rather a neighbourhood. It’s across the river from the historic centre of town.
Rick Steves’ Spain tour book describes Triana as once considered on the wrong side of the river, but now the colourful part of town, with a distinctive flavour. I had lunch and took a meandering walk through it today.
I did find it distinctive and, somewhat, colourful. Although, to be honest, I enjoyed Barrio Santa Cruz on the other side of the river more, and found Barrio Santa Cruz to be more colourful.
An enclosed market is almost the first building on the right when you cross over into Triana on the bridge over the Guadalquivir River (Rio Guadalquivir). (A partial ruin is between it and the river so, technically, it is the first full building.)
The market houses a variety of seafood, meat, and produce vendors, along with a collection of bars and small restaurants. It has a pleasantly gritty feel to it and was very lively when I was there.
The streets in Triana are generally wider than those in Barrio Santa Cruz. In Triana, as far as I saw, only one street barred cars. It is a main drag that’s restricted to pedestrians and bicycles. (Bicyclists get one lane in each direction down the middle of the road.)
The other streets that I walked along were fairly narrow by North American standards, but not as narrow as some of the streets in Barrio Santa Cruz—even some of the traffic-bearing streets in Barrio Santa Cruz. Traffic on them was very light when I was there.
All of the buildings in Triana are low-rise and many are, indeed, literally colourful.
One advantage Triana has over Barrio Santa Cruz is that it is mostly residential, with some not particularly high-end commercial establishments and no major tourist attractions. Hence, unlike Barrio Santa Cruz, it’s not overrun with tourists.
Triana: Former Ceramics District
Triana used to be famous for its ceramics. Most (all?) of the ceramics workshops are closed these days, but some ceramics stores remain. However, if you visit Triana and ceramics shopping interests you, watch the clock. Many of the ceramics and other shops in Triana close from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. (14:00 to 17:00), I assume for lunch. A couple of ceramics stores were open when I was there during that time, but some were closed.
Because I hate shopping, this was not a problem for me.
Hospital de la Caridad
Reputedly, Don Miguel Mañara was a 17th century playboy and general nogoodnik. To be clear, it was the playboy and general nogoodnik that is reputed. The 17th century part is not in question in the least.
However, Mañara was only a ne’er-do-well in the early part of his adulthood. Later on, he repented and decided that he didn’t want to go to hell. He apparently believed in such things.
To get in God’s good books, he founded a hospital for the poor and homeless of Sevilla. The building also included a church.
Past the admissions desk, I came to an austere, but charming courtyard, decorated with two statues in the centre and Dutch tile paintings on the walls.
To get into the church I had to step on Mañara’s gravestone. Mañara requested that he be buried in front of the church so everyone would have to walk on him when they entered. That’s a bit macabre and more than a bit demeaning, if you ask me. But, to each his own, as they say.
The church is gorgeous. The altarpiece is beautifully carved and largely gold coloured. On the walls hang a large painting by Juan de Valdés Leal, and several paintings by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.
Four of the Murillo paintings are reproductions. The others are originals. The reason for the reproductions is the originals of those four were, to use the audioguide’s word, looted from the church during the French conquest of Spain. Three of the originals now hang in national galleries, one in Ottawa, another in Washington, and the third in London. The fourth Murillo original hangs in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
According to Steves, Mañara fans request that anyone who beseeches the late Mañara to do something for them to let the fans know if the beseecher’s wish comes true. Apparently, the fans are rooting for Mañara to be made a saint. He needs to rack up a few miracles for that to happen. Um, ok.
Aside #1: I learned something by being in Sevilla on October 31. Some (many? most?) children here, and even some youth beyond what I’d classify as children, dress up in costumes for Halloween. This included an informal parade of at least a dozen costumed people roller skating in a bicycle path beside the sidewalk.
Until now, I honestly didn’t know if Halloween was just a North American thing. I still don’t know for certain if that’s the case elsewhere in Europe, but I don’t imagine Sevilla is unique in that regard.
Aside #2: It might simply be that my ears are not sufficiently attuned to such things, but it sounds to me like dogs bark in the same language here as in North America.
Did dogs adopt a canine version of the Esperanto that never caught on with humans? If so, how clever of them. It means that, in doggie restaurants, they don’t have to depend on dog food menus with translations below each item so they can point to what they want if their canine servers don’t bark their language.
Then again, unless I grew up with it, I’d likely be no better at learning Esperanto than I am at learning any other language. That is to say, embarrassingly horrible. Sorry I mentioned it.