The Plaza de España in Seville is the most emblematic work of Aníbal González and of the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929.
Aníbal González Álvarez-Ossorio was born in Seville, on Calle Bustos Tavera on June 10, 1879.
Since he was little, he shows his ability to draw and his artistic character, which his mother will support, encouraging him to study Architecture.
In 1896, at the age of 19, he entered the School of Architecture in Madrid. The following year the also Sevillian, D. José Gómez Millán, with whom he befriended and who eventually became his brother-in-law, when Aníbal married Ana Gómez Millán, entered the same School.
Aníbal is a brilliant student and he is highly appreciated by both his teachers and his fellow students. In the Architecture School he learns about Modernism and Historicism , architectural currents in vogue at this time.
In June 1902 he ends his studies, becoming number 1 of his class
and receives a great tribute from his fellow students as a farewell.
He is a great lover of culture and a great bibliophile, something that will be reflected in his designs for the 1929 Exhibition, which usually includes ceramic book shelves, as if it were an outdoor library.
The Iberoamerican Exhibition
In 1910 the city of Seville began to organize the 1929 Exhibition.
The loss of the last colonies has plunged the country into a deep crisis, both economically and psychologically, so it was decided to organize an Exposition (called at first Hispanic-AmericanExposition) to revitalize the economy and try to keep a cultural and economic contact with the former colonies.
In 1911 Aníbal Gónzalez became the chief architect of the exhibition, after presenting his project to the city council.
The Plaza de España in Seville
The construction works began in 1914 and it took 15 years to complete it.
Both the Plaza (square) and the building are known as Plaza de España. It is the best example of Regionalism in Seville.
Aníbal González is inspired by the Renaissance, the Baroque and the Mudejar stiles and he managed to create an architecture full of color and joy.
The use of traditional materials such as bricks, ceramic, iron and wood will employ thousands of artisans, stimulating the development of decorative arts in the city.
The Plaza de España and its symbolic meaning
It is a huge semicircle of 50,000m2, ( 538.200 ft2) of which about 19,000 m2 (204.500 ft2)are built.
Oriented towards the West, towards the Guadalquivir River,it gives a warm welcome to the former colonies by embracing them in a symbolic hug. Between the two elegant 74-meter high towers (243 ft), representing the Catholic Monarchs, there is a distance of 170 meters (558 ft.).
A 515mts (1690 ft ) canal runs through the Plaza and it is saved by 4 bridges that represent the 4 kingdoms of Spain in the Middle Ages, Castilla, León, Navarra and Aragon.
Attached to the wall of the building are 48 sections, called alcoves or benches, corresponding to the 46 peninsular provinces that were then in Spain plus the Balearic and Canary Islands, placed in alphabetical order. Seville is represented in 8 canvases or ceramic panels, 2 per sector (there are 4). Each one of these benches is made up of:
– On the ground a ceramic map representing the corresponding province.
– The shelves on the sides were used to store books, guides, newspapers or brochures about that province,so you could seat on the benches and read. A team of women were in charge of keeping them in order.
– On the wall a ceramic panel representing a historical scene or an ancestral custom of the province of reference.
– Presiding over the space the shield of the province.
These ceramic panels are true works of art.
The Plaza de España in Seville during the Exhibition …..
The different spaces of the building during the Exhibiton were occupied by a series of sections such as
– An industrial school, which also exhibited the work of the students in carpentry, forge, etc.
– Cartographic and documentary exhibition of the Discovery and colonization of America that presented documents as important as the Capitulations of Santa Fe or the Diario de a Bordo de Colón.
– Reproduction of a typical Sevillian house, including actors disguised in traditional costumes
-Museum of bullfighting.
– A gigantic monumental map of the Iberian Peninsula.
– In the central building was the assembly hall.
– An exhibition of modern art.
– The reproduction of Isaac Peral’s submarine.
– A book museum including the reproduction of a 15th century printing press and costumed actors working with it.
Come and visit with Showme Sevilla the different sites of the Ibero-American Exhibition