HOSPITAL Y CAPILLA DE LA SANTA CARIDAD - HOLY CHARITY HOSPITAL AND CHAPEL
The Hospital de la Santa Caridad (Holy Charity Hospital) is a 15th century baroque charity hospital, home to the Hermandad de la Santa Caridad (Brotherhood of Holy Charity). Located at the southern end of the Atarazanas (Royal Shipyards) in the Arenal neighbourhood, it has some superb artworks by Golden Age painters such as Murillo, Zurbaran and Valdes Leal.
Originally founded to give a Christian burial to those who died by execution, or drowned in the river, under the auspices of Manuel Mañara, the notorious libertine who was the inspiration for the literary character Don Juan and later became a noted philanthropist, the hospital expanded its role as a hospice. Caring for the destitute, it looked after patients whom other hospitals wouldn't accept, such as beggars and the homeless, as well as providing food and shelter.
The most famous part of the hospital is its 17th century gilded chapel of San Jorge (St George), which was built under Mañara, who later became hermano mayor of the brotherhood.
The baroque chapel has artworks by Murillo, Valdes Leal, and Roldan. The facade was designed by Leonardo de Figueroa, who designed many of Seville's finest baroque churches, and features two carved figures: San Fernando, King of Castille and San Luis, King of France.
Two of the works by Valdes Leal are studies of death: Finis Gloriae Mundi (End of the world's glory) and In Ictu Oculi (In the blink of an eye) - the morbid theme is due to the plague of 1649 which devastated the city: the dichotomy of wealth and poverty, greed and charity are depicted (see below).
The Murillo paintings comissioned for this chapel continue the theme of charitable acts. Four of the six were stolen during the War of Independence and then sold, and are now in galleries such as the National Gallery in London, the National Gallery in Washington DC, and the Hermitage in St Petersburg. Today, replicas now hang in their place - look out for The return of the prodigal son and Abraham and the three angels.
Another notable painting is Zurbaran's Christ Crucified.
The statue of Santo Cristo de la Caridad is by Pedro Roldan, and the altarpieces by Roldan, Valdes Leal and Simon de Pineda.
The patio has a white and yellow arcade and split in half by a row of arches.
"The 17th century is the century of splendour and decadence, the sunrise and sunset... We are facing a century divided into two, which cracks when the ghost of the Black Death appears in 1649. Gold and silver from the Indies gave way to fear of death. Thus emerged the best artworks of the Baroque, an artistic movement linked to the Counter-Reformation and providing Seville with an artistic heritage difficult to be compared with in Europe. On one hand, luxury and ostentation. On the other, demographic and social economic crisis which made the city fall down into a state of depression which would take centuries to recover from. This is the 17th century all about. The century of Mañara, Velázquez, Martínez Montañés, Juan de Mesa, Alonso Cano, Pedro Roldán."
Calle Temprano 3, tel 954 223 232
10.30 -19.30 Monday to Saturday and 12.30-14.00 on Sunday.
Entry costs 8 euros for adults, 2.50 euros for children (under 7s are free). Audio guide costs 1 euro.
Free entrance 15.30-19.30 on Monday
During the summers of 2013, 2014 and 2015 more than 10.000 people visited the Hospital de la Caridad with Engranajes Culturales by candlelight.
With the doors closed and the way lit by candles, you can discover in this place the rites and secrets of one of the most important brotherhoods of the city of Sevilla.
Life and death are mixed together in the atmosphere that pervades the church, the visitor can admire important baroque works of art by candlelight, including those by Valdes Leal, Mañara, Murillo and Pedro Roldán.
Additionally the visitor can discover the tomb of Miguel Mañara, which is closed to the public during general day time visits.
50% of the ticket price is destined to charitable projects and to an elderly people's home in Seville supported by the Hospital de la Caridad.