While visiting the Andalusian capital Seville, a few hours should be dedicated to the Real Alcázar. This architectural and garden complex, built on a Roman and then Visigothic settlement, has been the residence of Muslim and Christian rulers and monarchs since the beginning of the 8th century. The gardens as well as the buildings of the Real Alcázar de Sevilla are marvellous. But there is more to see. Located next to the entrance of the site, there is a highly recommendable exhibition – the Triana ceramics and tile exhibition of the Carranza Collection.
The Carranza Collection is considered to be one of the most important ceramic and tile collections in Spain
One of the Most Important Ceramic Collections in Spain
Located at the former Admiral’s Rooms, this permanent exhibition should be part of every visit to the Real Alcázar. The Triana ceramics and tile exhibition is not too extensive, but offers extraordinary objects. The craft of tiles and ceramics is one of the most striking aspects of the Andalusian and Iberian culture. Anyone who does not have enough time to see the Triana Ceramic Museum (which also exhibits pieces from the Carranza Collection) will be able to get interesting insights into the subject.
The Carranza Collection belonged to Vicente Carranza Escudero. It is considered to be one of the most important ceramic and tile collections in Spain. The collector made significant donations to the Palacio de Santa Cruz de Toledo in 2001 and to the Museo Comarcal de Daimiel (Carranzas hometown) in 2005. The main part of the Carranza Collection was donated in Seville to be exhibited at the Reales Alcázares and at the Triana Ceramic Museum.
At the entrance of the exhibition there’s a bust of Miguel Ángel Carranza, the son of the collector
The Carranza Collection at the Real Alcázar
The inauguration of the exhibition at the Real Alcázar was delayed for years until December 2, 2010. On that day the three rooms of the exhibition were opened to the public. The pieces on display are dated between the 12th and 18th century. Following the explanatory texts in the exhibition, one has the impression that the objects have been chosen in a balanced way, valuing both their aesthetics and their exemplarity. Only ceramics of the 19th and 20th century are missing. There had been plans to add a 4th room to the exhibition, dedicated to this period. But until today the project seems to be completely abandoned.
On the way to the exhibition, visitors enter a corridor with large windows. There are display cabinets containing pieces of great size and beauty. The objects seem to be somewhat out of context, but are obviously intended to guide the visitor towards the exhibition rooms. At the entrance of the exhibition there’s a bust of Miguel Ángel Carranza, the son of the collector. He shared the passion of his father and would have inherited his collection, but passed away in 1995. The exhibition at the Real Alcázar is dedicated to him.
The craft of tiles and ceramics is one of the most striking aspects of the Andalusian and Iberian culture
Precious Objects in the Dark
The rooms of the exhibition are darkened. The only light there is the one that illuminates the objects. It’s all wrapped in a penumbra in which the pieces of the Carranza Collection seem to float. As the eyes become accustomed to the darkness, it is possible to appreciate the works, read the bilingual informative texts (in Spanish and English), and experience a great work of museographic composition.
The walls of the exhibition are covered by a continuous canvas, printed with motives taken from the pottery of Triana. Due to the careful illumination, this appears as an elegant detail and is not distracting from the exhibited pieces. In general, the exhibition is not overloaded with works: Every piece has its own place and therefore has the opportunity to draw the attention of the visitor individually.
The room at the centre of the exhibition shows an animation projected on the floor, accompanied by historic music. This adds a variety to the exhibition, taking advantage of the excellent acoustics of the room. Unfortunately the exhibition gives no information about this audio-visual installation so the visitors can’t learn more about the presented images and the music.
The time that one can devote to these rooms – between 10 minutes and half an hour – is really worth it. So in any case, if you go to Seville, do not miss either the Real Alcázar or this small ceramics and tile exhibition.
Azulejos y lozas de Triana en la Colección Carranza
Real Alcázar de Sevilla
Pictures: Angelika Schoder – Real Alcázar de Sevilla, 2016