A dream for art and architecture lovers in Seville
A historical Carthusian monastery featuring evidence of 19th century industrial architecture and that today hosts exhibitions of contemporary art? Yes! It is not a dream of an art and architecture lover. It is a reality and it is in Seville. Let us tell you more about it…
The banks of the Guadalquivir river have been famous for their clays throughout history. Actually, it’s known that the area where this magical building stands today was populated with numerous clay ovens during Muslim times.
After the Christian conquest of Seville in 1248, clay continued to be extracted from the caves of the area by Christian potters and a sculpture of the Virgin Mary was found by chance in one of those caves.
The sculpture was therefore named “The Virgin of the Caves” and a shrine was built at the very spot where it was found. Devotion for the image grew over the years with the belief of its miraculous powers and the first monks came to the area to support the devout and other pilgrims.
In 1400, a Monastery started to be built with the help of some noble families from Seville and by the end of the 15th century, Carthusian monks came to live in it.
The monastic life of this charterhouse inspired many of the works of Zurbarán, one of the most representative Spanish painters of the 17th century. Some of them can be seen in the museum of fine art of Seville.
The Monastery of Saint Mary of the Caves was a place of prayer and silence (only interrupted by the French invasion between 1810 and 1812) until 1836, when major convents and monasteries in Spain were abolished.
In 1839, a businessman from Liverpool bought the monastery to start there a ceramics factory.
19th century industrial clay ovens and chimneys were added to the the site providing it with the shape and lines it shows today. The factory became internationally renowned for the refinement of its ceramics and it functioned until 1982.
In 1997, the site became the Andalusian centre of Contemporary Art. A magical space filled with history and a fascinating mixture of architecture styles, where one can see both permanent and temporary art exhibitions.
The place is also the scenario for Seville’s most important contemporary pop music festival, called territorios, which takes place every year in May. Also, during the summer nights, contemporary pop music fills the gardens of the former monastery, with a program of concerts called nocturama.
We very much enjoy history, art, architecture and music so we are regular visitors to this hidden gem of Seville. If you would like to discover Seville with us, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be delighted to share our expertise and passion for the city with you and your party.