The Monastery of Cartuja, located in Seville on the right bank of the Guadalquivir river, remains a monument of art to this day after its dramatic history.
The history of Cartuja Monastery
It’s history begins during the Moorish times, where clay extracts were found in that area, known as Isla de La Cartuja. Potters dug up caves and created clay ovens to collect the clay and create pots. Therefore, it is said that in 1248 an image of the Virgin was found in these caves, which gave reason to construct a shrine on that land named the Chapel of Santa Maria De las Cuevas.
In 1399 Franciscans constructed a monastery on the location of the previous shrine, which later became home for Carthusian monks.
An interesting fact is that Christopher Columbus stayed in La Cartuja while he was planning his second voyage. This site, including the then-ruined monastery, was selected for Seville’s Expo 92 on Christopher Columbus’ 500th anniversary of his first voyage. At one point, Christopher Columbus’ remains were buried within the church for over 30 years.
In 1810, during the Napoleonic invasion of Spain, the monks were exiled out of the Monastery. It had to be used for the Emperor’s troops as barracks to train the military. The invasion left the buildings damaged, and in 1812 the troops had left. Once they had left, the monks returned to the monastery to continue their livelihood. Later on, around 1830, the religious icons were taken and the monastery was ordered to be shut.
In 1839, an English merchant by the name of Charles Pickman, bought the monastery. Until then, it was abandoned and damaged, and in 1841 the merchant restored it into a ceramic factory. The factory was used for creating tiles and porcelain. Some unique parts of Seville’s buildings were produced by that factory, including the cone-shaped bricks, chimneys and tiles which are still integral in the aesthetics of the monastery.
“Contemporary art center of Seville”
The factory operated until 1980, and since then it serves as the Museum of Contemporary Andalusian Art. Today, people are able to visit the exhibitions in the museum at a reasonable 3 euros for a complete visit. The museum itself is free to visit from Tuesday to Friday 19:00-21:00 and Saturdays from 11:00-21:00.