Tiles painted with a bull's head
Crafts,  Culture & tradition,  Photographing Public Art,  Seville

Gallery: Majolica, the ceramic tiles of Seville

Spain, along with its neighbour Portugal, is home to some of the most beautiful tilework in the world, and much of it originates in Seville. Or more accurately, in the Seville barrio of Triana.

Known as Majolica, or sometimes Talavera, after the ceramic centre of Talavera de la Reina in Castilla, these tiles have been produced in this country for hundred of years. Made initially for churches and palaces, the art later spread to homes, adorning floors and walls.

The tiles are enamelled with metallic and glass oxides. These help to protect the surfaces, making them durable and also glossy. There are two distinct styles. Some are covered in geometric designs, reminding me a little of patchwork; while others have paintings of figures, animals, flowers and leaves, etc.

The district known as ‘Triana’ was once home to famous tile workshops, some of which remain today, along with a ceramic museum. We didn’t visit this, but we did find loads of examples of majolica all over the city. Many are displayed as small panels on the walls of buildings, and it is these that I mainly want to focus on here.

Religious panels

These are among the most common designs. They can be found not only on churches but also private houses and commercial premises. Those in the gallery below were photographed mainly in the central Santa Cruz district and across the river in Triana.

Commemorative panels

These are found on buildings associated with a famous person. I was very taken with the ornate style when compared to our English Heritage blue plaques, wonderful as that scheme is. Most of my examples are from Triana.

Other tiles

To finish, here’s a somewhat random selection of other examples of tile work that appealed to me.

Round tile painted with a brightly coloured bird
Our souvenir of Seville

We also saw beautiful tiles in the Real Alcazar, but that deserves a post of its own! Meanwhile I’m sharing this selection for the Photographing Public Art challenge as all (bar one) of them can be easily seen as you walk the streets of Seville. The exception is the one in the Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija above, which was too pretty to leave out! I’ll share more about that palace in due course, I’m sure.

And of course after seeing all these tiles we had to buy one ourselves as a souvenir of our time in Seville. We came across a little shop in Santa Cruz selling ceramic tiles in all sizes, all made and painted by hand. Ceramicas Sevilla is a family-owned business established in 1952. We got a friendly welcome, a pretty tile and a lovely memory of our time in this beautiful city.

I visited Seville in November 2021

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