When you visualize Seville, what comes to mind? Maybe you think of its historic sites such as the Alcazar or the countless Cathedrals. The bullfighting ring, or perhaps flamenco? The city’s constant blue skies and endless orange trees? There’s one part of Seville you’ll see anywhere you go, which seems to decorate any and every surface…the city’s tiles!
Seville is very well known for its artisan ceramics and pottery industry. The earliest pottery found in Seville dates from the Neolithic period, over 4000 years ago! Although it wasn’t until the Muslim era when Sevillian pottery gained it signature style. In Islam, they were prohibited from depicting living things, so they created the abstract geometric designs which are still common today.
The production center of the ceramics industry has always been in the neighborhood of Triana, pottery has been made there using local clay from the river at least since Roman times. The Spanish-Muslim ceramists contributed the glazing techniques to architecture, in facades, sunrooms, baseboards and ceilings.
Even Seville’s patron saints, Justina and Rufina were potters! Their status as Saints reflects on the importance of the industry in Sevilles history.
You can still find little ceramics shops dotted across the city and in Trianna, and a few artisans working using the traditional methods. Although the old wood-fired brick kilns have been replaced by electric kilns, the industry has declined and ceramics are no longer produced here on a large commercial scale.
Interested in learning more about the history of ceramics in Seville? You should visit the Centro Cerámica de Triana, which is a museum representing the history of the pottery tradition in Triana.
Why not try your hand at tile painting or pottery? We’ve made a list of our 3 recommendations for ceramics classes you join whilst in Seville!
Photographer & Content Writer: Mark Leahy