HISTORY AND SPACES
The Isla de la Cartuja had rich clay
deposits that the potters from the Triana district used for their pots
and tiles. Tradition has it that in one of the caves resulting from
clay extraction a figure of the Virgin was found that must have been
hidden there centuries before to prevent profanation by non-Christians.
A shrine was soon raised at the spot and devotion for the image grew
together with the belief in its miraculous powers. A community of Franciscan
tertiaries became established in the vicinity for the spiritual succour
of the devout and other pilgrims, but when Archbishop Gonzalo de Mena
founded the Monasterio de la Cartuja (the Carthusian Monastery)
in the year 1400, they were forced to move. When some monasteries were
sold in mid-19th century, Charles Pickman, an English businessman, purchased
the Cartuja and converted it into an internationally renowned
pottery factory. When Seville was chosen to hold the Universal Exhibition
of 1992, the Monastery was restored for use as a cultural centre.
1.- ENTRANCE GATEWAY AND
CAPILLA DE AFUERA (OUTER CHAPEL).
The architect Ambrosio de Figueroa (18th century) was involved in the
reconstruction of several parts of the building, including the entrance,
designed as a triumphal arch, and the single volume chapel with its
simple lines and its outstanding dome. This chapel and the adjoining
spaces were intended as a place where people from outside could meet
the monks, who were not neglectful of the needy coming to them.
2.- ATRIO E IGLESIA
(ATRIUM AND CHURCH).
The Atrium connects with the Prior's cell to the left, the Procuration
area to the right and, opposite, the façade of the church, with its
16th century tiled rose window. The 15th century church is in the Gothic
style, as denoted by its ribbed vaults, of which the apse is particularly
interesting. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the church was used
as a pottery warehouse. Today it has a double function as an exhibition
hall for contemporary art and also houses many types of cultural events.
A magnificent clock made by Brother Manuel Navarro and installed in
1817 can still be seen in the presbytery (altar zone).
3.- CAPILLA DE SANTA
ANA (SAINT ANNE'S CHAPEL).
Built in the 16th century, this chapel was originally located on the
outside, but the façade of the church was later moved forward to enclose
it. The body of Christopher Columbus lay in the crypt from 1509 to 1536,
and so it is also known as Capilla de Colón (Columbus Chapel).
A hundred years later, the masterpiece of Martínez Montañés, the Christ
of Clemency, now in Seville Cathedral, presided over it. Fortunately,
two pieces of tiling of worldwide historic importance are still conserved.
These are the panels of Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Matthias
made by Juan Bautista Pisano in 1523. Some other pieces of this interesting
series of the Twelve Apostles, can be seen in other museums and private
4.- CLAUSTRILLO (LITTLE
This is one of the best examples in Seville of Mudéjar architecture,
which is a combination of Christian and Muslim styles. When it was built
in the second half of the 15th century, its purpose was to connect the
already existing spaces, Despite its small size, the elegant proportions
create a composition of unique beauty. The materials used in its construction,
including roof tiles, glazed tiling in the galleries, red brick and
the white marble columns with bell-shaped capitals are equally interesting,
and show the influence of the Nasrids, the dynasty that built the Alhambra
5.- SALA CAPITULAR
This room, designed for the monks' more important meetings, was built
at the same time as the Claustrillo. The figurative decoration
of the vault predominates in the first part of this space. This is a
significant testimony of the first Gothic sculpture in Seville. The
room was ceded as a burial place for the Ribera family, patrons of the
Monasterio de la Cartuja. The vertical wall tombs of Pedro Enríquez
and Catalina de Ribera, made in the 16th century in Genoa by Aprile
de Carona and Pace Gazini respectively, are remarkable for the profusion
of their iconography and ornament. During the factory period the tombs
were relocated in the Iglesia de la Anunciación (the Annunciation
Church) and the Sala Capitular was used for carpentry. The tombs
were replaced here after the rehabilitation work prior to the Universal
Exhibition of 1992.
DE LA MAGDALENA (THE MAGDALENA'S CHAPEL).
This is the original nucleus of the Monastery. The flat cloister vaults
covering it and their irregular sizes make it special in the context
of Mudéjar buildings in Seville. The construction of the Refectory (nº
7) made it smaller and a square chapel was added to it, where the mortal
remains of the Monastery's founder, Archbishop Gonzalo de Mena, were
finally laid. The walls conserve a representation of the triple Saint
Anne (Saint Anne, Mother of the Virgin, holds Mary in her lap and she,
in turn, holds her Son, Jesus).
7.- REFECTORIO (REFECTORY).
This is where the Carthusian monks had their main meals. It was enlarged
and redecorated in 1588, although both the entrance to the Claustrillo
(nº 4) and the surroundings of the pulpit were maintained. The
latter was designed for a monk to read the Holy Scriptures while his
companions ate their meal. The quality of the geometrical carved wooden
ceiling is outstanding, as too are the tiled panels from the late 16th
and 17th centuries. The room once housed The Last Supper by Alonso
Vázquez, now in the Museo de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum)
The baroque plasterwork can still be seen that once framed one of Francisco
de Zurbarán's best series of paintings (17th century), now in the Museo
de Bellas Artes. In the early 19th century during the French occupation,
this unique space served as the garrison's butchery. Entrance is via
the De profundis chapel, where the monks stood vigil over the
9.- MEMORIAL DEL AGUA
The history of the Monasterio de la Cartuja is conditioned by
its proximity to the river and the almost annual floods. In tribute
to this, the architect José Ramón Sierra created this intervention in
1992, by submerging architectural fragments from the building itself
such as shafts, bases or capitals, thus conferring poetic expression
to the link between the place and the river.
The arrangement of the large cloisters is due to the monks' individual
cells. Remains of the original building are only conserved in the eastern
sector. Important modifications were carried out during the French invasion
and the time of the factory (19th and 20th centuries), when the cloister
practically disappeared. It was rebuilt for use as exhibition halls
during the recovery of the Cartuja for cultural purposes prior
to the Universal Exhibition of 1992. The British-style cone-shaped kilns
were installed in the first decade of the 20th century. With time, they
have become an emblematic icon of the monastery.
11.- GARDENS AND THEIR BUILDINGS.
In the first garden there is a chapel again dedicated to Saint Anne,
which held a Holy Family by Zurbarán (17th century). In the second garden
we find the 16th century Chapel of Saints Justa and Rufina, which was
modified in Pickman's time in the orientalist taste of 19th century
British garden pavilions.
12.- THE OMBU.
The ombu (Phytolacca dioica) is not really a tree, but a sort
of grass. It grows to great age, but since its trunk does not have annual
growth rings, its age cannot be exactly determined. Legend has it that
the ombu in the Cartuja was planted by Hernando Colón son of
the great Admiral Columbus. One of the features of the ombu is its immunity
to insects, as its sap is toxic. It grows very quickly to a height of
10 to 15 metres. Its wood is very soft, as it contains a large amount
of water, which is necessary to survive the long droughts common in
Argentina and Uruguay, where it comes from.
13.- ARCO DE LEGOS
The arch was given this name as it leads to the area where the lay brothers
of the Order lived. Apart from the duties of the Order, they also had
to attend the monks or priests, who were entirely dedicated to a life
of prayer and whose cells were arranged around the Claustrón
(nº 10). Today it marks the boundary between the offices and halls
of the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, on the left, and
the seat of the Instituto Andaluz de Patrimonio Histórico (Andalusian
Institute of the Historic Heritage) on the right.
14.- PUERTA DEL RÍO
In the mid-18th century, the Cartuja was severely damaged by
diverse natural disasters, which required the building of new structures,
such as the Capilla de Afuera (nº 1). The architect Ambrosio
de Figueroa directed this process using a style similar to the entrances
to country homes of the period. The ceramic finials and the panels of
reused diamond-shaped tiles give the doorway a very popular and delicate,