Seville City - Convents & Monasteries

The Convents and Monasteries of Seville © MIchelle Chaplow
The Convents and Monasteries of Seville

Convents & Monasteries

Seville is a city rich with convents and monasteries. Groups of nuns scuttle down the streets going around their daily business and school girls, dressed in smart plaid skirts and shirts walk in single file throughout the city.

Although there is restricted entry to many of the convents, most are inhabited by closed religious orders. Many of the convents and monasteries are located in La Macarena in the north of the city and which is a characterful mix of decaying Baroque and Mudejar churches, old style neighbourhood tapas bars and washing filled back streets. Its name is thought to derive from the Roman goddess, Macaria, the daughter of the hero Hercules. La Macarena is a traditional district and the power of the church is still strong there.

The best way to enter is to walk north up Calle Feria to the Basilica de La Macarena, a cult-worship shrine to Seville's much-venerated Virgin de la Esperanz Macarena. Beside this modern church stands a restored entrance gate and remnants of defensive walls which enclosed the city during the Moorish era.

Among numerous churches and convents in this quarter, are the Monasterio de San Clemente, the Convento de Santa Paula and the Convento de Santa Clara. Elsewhere in Seville, the Monasterio de Santa Maria de Las Cuevas is well-worth a visit.

MONASTERIOR DE SAN CLEMENTE

Calle Santa Clara 91

The imposing ancient walls of this monastery shield a beautiful cloister with fruit trees and palms. This 13th century was restored for Expo 92 and some galleries and courtyards are open to the public. The church is also accessible and includes a fine example of Mudejar architecture with the finely carved ceiling and tile work dating from 1588. A Baroque main 'retablo' by Felipe de Rivas is also impressive, as well as the 18th century frescoes by Lucas Valdes.

Santa Paula Convents

CONVENTO DE SANTA PAULA

Calle Santa Paula 11

Convento de Santa Paula (c) Michelle ChaplowLooping down towards the river, you reach the Monasterio de Santa Clara, once part of the palace of Don Fadrique, brother of Alfonso X and with a Romanesque - Gothic tower dating from 1252. A couple of blocks away are the distinctive columns of the Alameda de Hercules.

This leads back towards the town centre, with two more churches worth a look on the way, the Renaissance chapel of the Universidad Antigua and Baroque San Salvador, the latter built on the site of Seville's first Friday mosque - part of whose minaret is incorporated in the tower.

CONVENTO DE SANTA CLARA

Calle Santa Clara 40.

This evocative building dates from the 13th century, however unfortunately only the tower of Don Fadrique can be visited these days. The hours are from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm and 17.30 pm to 19.30 pm.

MONASTERIO DE SANTA MARIA DE LAS CUEVAS

La Cartuja (Expo site)

This monastery has links with Christopher Columbus and was later used as ceramic factory. It has been beautifully restored and can be visited. It is also home to the CAAC, the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo (Andalucian Centre for Contemporary Art).