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.
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.
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.
To finish, here’s a somewhat random selection of other examples of tile work that appealed to me.
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
What a gorgeous collection of tiles and panels. They must add so much character to the streets and sidewalks. Maggie
Thanks Maggie, they do exactly that 🙂 I couldn’t stop photographing them!
Fabulous tiles, one can only imagine the time and expertise needed to create those beautiful pieces of art. The blue and white tribute tiles are so much better than the lifeless ones you see in most places.
Thank you Ruth 🙂 Yes, I loved the way those blue and white tiles included an image of the person, they really bring them to life as you say.
The tiles are just wonderful! I love the bright colours!
Thank you Anna 🙂 Have you been to Seville? If not, I think you would love it – if you ever get out of Australia again 🤗
No I haven’t been to Seville! It’s definitely a place I want to see! I was in southern Spain for the Marbella meet, whenever that was! Explored Granada, Ronda and a few other little places. I definitely want to see Seville and Cordoba!
Gosh, Marbella was before I ever went to a Euromeet so maybe around 2005? We didn’t get to Cordoba on this trip as we only had a few days and wanted to focus on Seville, but we hope to go back to see it soon!
Lol yes I was a VTer say back, like 2003. I think Marbella might of been 2005, my memory is hazy! Lol.
Seems about right. My first was Karlsruhe in 2007 and I know the previous year had been Santorini, but I’m not sure of the ones before that. I joined in 2005 but a bit later in the year – July or August I think 🙂
Love those bright colors! Your souvenir is beautiful and has a lot of personality.
Thanks Siobhan 🙂 That plate may be small but it brightens up our kitchen (along with the many other little souvenirs we have hanging there!)
Which one was the Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija? I liked the tiles in Portugal better than the ones in Spain, but I didn’t get to Seville on my first trip in 1964. I bought some tiles which I still have – I intended to mount them and use them as a hot plate, but I’ve never done it.
Bottom left in the last set Rosalie – if you hover over the images you should see the captions, or you can click on them for a better look. It’s a beautiful palace which I’ll post more about soon 🙂
I didn’t know I could see the captions that way. I thought it might be that one but due to the vines I thought it was outside and I thought the one in the Condesa’s Palacio would be inside.
It was in an internal courtyard, hence the vines 🙂
The moment I saw your title I already got excited… wonderful collection, Sarah!
Ah, thanks Teresa – I can just imagine that you would enjoy these!
Love the colour and life these works of art bring to city streets.
Thanks Lesley 🙂 Yes, I loved the colours and the interest they added to our walks, but they made us slower as I had to keep stopping to take photos!
They’re all works of art, Sarah, but my favorites are the “other ones” and the one you chose to take home.
Thanks Janet – I guess there’s more variety in that selection of ‘others’ 🙂
Very beautiful. I’m sure I would also enjoy seeing all of those artsy displays, as well as the surrounding buildings and walkways. The work they put into some of them!
They really brighten any walk around the city and yes, so much work has gone into them!
the eternal traveller
So beautiful. I like the one you chose to take home.
Thank you 😊😊
Even though they weren’t as ornate and decorative as the mosaics, I loved the commemorative panels and why the people were commemorated. As with statues, I find it noteworthy that so many fewer women receive recognition than men. These may be some of the most beautiful mosaics I’ve ever seen on the streets. It makes me so sad that in the US we do not always value how our towns look to visitors or even for ourselves. Visalia and Fresno and the freeways and highways around and between them are so poorly maintained, decorated and kept clean that I wanted to get out and scrub them down every time I drove somewhere. Seville, Spain is a beautiful place.
Thank you Marsha – yes, it struck me that there were relatively few women which is why I made a point of photographing and including this one 🙂 There were so many of these lovely mosaics! I took loads of photos but even so there are many more that I didn’t capture!
You could do a series like Manja did with her murals. Seville must be the most gorgeous city. We have a Seville in CA that is nothing but a few used mobile homes moved in for farm workers, a gas station, and a tiny K-8 elementary school. It sits along a country highway down the road from Yettem, an Armenian settlement, and across from a radio tower. They should change the name to something that doesn’t represent the beautiful town you’ve shown.
I’ll be posting more about Seville but some different aspects of the city – its stunning cathedral, for instance 🙂
I can’t wait! 🙂
What a great selection of photos of these wonderful majolica tiles. I’ve brought some home before now too. They’re hard to resist aren’t they? You’re already building up an amazing collection of galleries Sarah, and I know that there must be plenty more to come. Great stuff!
Thanks so much Malcolm 😊 Yes, it was hard to stick to just one small one to bring home but we had cabin bags only so had to be careful how much we bought!
Ahh, gorgeous all, especially your souvenir. I’d be reluctant to leave this city until I find them all. 🙂
Thanks Manja 🙂 I think you’d be there a very long time in that case!!
Martin C Fredricks IV
Lovely. Thank you for taking me there!
Thank you Martin, glad to have you along!
We loved Triana too, though like you we didn’t get to the museum. Did you by any chance go to Casa de Pilatos? Wonderful ceramics there, and a quiet refuge from the busyness of Seville.
No, we didn’t get there. So much to see, so little time! But I have to say we didn’t find the city excessively busy – maybe the combination of Covid and being quite late in the year meant there were fewer visitors.
We went at an allegedly quiet time. But that was pre-Covid …