Seville is famous for its azulejos – ceramic tiles – and has been for many centuries, since Roman times. Now the tradition is celebrated in a new museum, which opened in July 2014, in an old tile factory in Triana, the historic district across the river from the centre which is so closely linked with this craft.
Centro Ceramica Triana is located in the old Ceramica Santa Ana factory close to the local market and Castillo San Jorge. The museum divided into three main areas: on the ground floor, you can see various kilns and learn about the raw materials, including mud from the riverbank and water from the river; on the first floor, there are examples of ceramics from Moorish times up to the 1950s; and on the same floor there’s a section on the neighbourhood of Triana itself, famous for its flamenco artists and festivals, as well as tile factories.
The museum uses audio-visual presentation to good effect, starting the visit off – and setting the museum into context - by showing old black-and-white footage of mud being shovelled and carried by mules; potters making pieces on their wheels; coloured pigment in jars; ceramics being painted by artisans. In one room panels explain the ceramic making process, using the four elements; earth (mud), water, fire and air.
Triana used to be home to Seville's famous tile workshops and potteries - almost any tile you see in Seville's churches, hotels, bars and private houses, as well as the splendiferous Plaza de España, will have been made here in Triana. The industry dates back to Roman times, using clay from La Cartuja, to the north of the area. A new museum, Çentro Ceramica Triana, which opened in July 2014, looks at the tradition of ceramics in the district. Countless artists, bullfighters and flamenco performers, both past and present, were born here - it was the old gitano (gypsy) quarter till the 1950s and is considered the spiritual heart of flamenco: you can experience some of the most authentic performances in the city here, in tiny, dark bars.
Upstairs, photographs of Triana in the 1950s and 60s show how many ceramics factories there were in the district, with many of the tall, industrial chimneys which can still be seen at La Cartuja, the ceramic factory founded by Englishman Charles Pickman in the 1800s. Learn about the factories which have closed, including Ceramica Santa Ana itself (though the company still has the shop with its famous façade next door, as well as one inside the museum itself).
Some pieces worth looking out for are the earliest ones – Moorish and Mudejar well-heads and small jars; white tiles with blue stars, dating from Renaissance times; and arista tiles made using an industrial process of wooden moulds. Also the Pisano works, by the 15th-century Florentine artist who came to live in Seville - large-scale pictures painted over panels of tiles - represent an important stage in the development of the tile industry in Seville. Some of the Pickman pieces, from La Cartuja, have great historic value too.
In the section on Triana, there’s an excellent video of abuelas (old ladies) talking about life growing up in a corral (shared courtyard), where was not much food but plenty of music, dancing and laughter. You can also listen to different types of flamenco music. If you want to explore the neighbourhood further, check out the excellent interactive maps showing Triana’s architectural highlights, corrales and ceramics workshops.
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.00-14.00 and 17.00-20.00, Sundays and holidays 10.00-15.00. Closed 1, 6 January, 25 December, Holy Thursday and Good Friday (Holy Week – Semana Santa).
how do I get there?
Centro Ceramica Triana, Calle Antillano Campos 14. Tel 954 342 737