Saturday, September 25

Aníbal González’s Seville: a route through its most emblematic buildings

He is known as “the architect of Seville”. Aníbal González did so many things in the capital of Seville, and some so important, that the nickname is more than deserved. Anyone who visits Seville will pass through a multitude of its buildings, sometimes without knowing it, and many others will specifically go looking for them because their beauty and originality have made them go down in history as a symbol of the city.

Aníbal González was born in Seville in 1876 and studied Architecture in Madrid. In his professional life he passed through different stages, focusing between 1909 and 1920 on historicism and, especially, on neo-Mudejar. It was also the main reference of local regionalist architecture. Brick, wrought iron, tiles … The elements are intermingled to achieve geometric shapes that carry a characteristic signature that is easy to distinguish. A genius who vindicated urban landscapes, who made historic Seville a historicist Seville and who, despite his success, ended his days mired in poverty only a few months after the inauguration of the greatest project of his life: the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929. Yes, the society fired Aníbal González en masse.

His work is so extensive that it seems infinite. He did pretty much everything. And not only in Seville, but also in other Andalusian and Extremaduran provinces or even in Madrid, where his hand can be seen in the extension of the Diario ABC building. He designed from large municipal buildings to warehouses, from chapels to residential buildings and from pavilions to squares. And that is if we do not also count the long list of projects that did not come to fruition.

For this reason, walking through Seville is walking through the work of Aníbal González. And as a sample, here we have some of its most representative buildings. Taking them into account in our visit will be the best tribute for this teacher Favorite Son of the city.

Aníbal González at the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929

González was the leading architect of the 1929 Seville Ibero-American Exposition, a celebration that changed the city forever. Anyone who goes to the María Luisa Park and its surroundings will see it with their own eyes, and also the most important buildings that he designed throughout his life.

This is for many the most beautiful and harmonious building in Seville. Symbol of the city, with permission from the Giralda, and a meeting point for locals and tourists. Between the exposed brick, the wooden coffered ceilings, its pond and the bluish ceramics, it reserves a space dedicated to each province. Today it is the headquarters of the Captaincy General and the delegation of the Central Government in Andalusia.

It is a postcard building, especially if we see it reflected in the pond that lies at its feet. During the exhibition it was the Ancient Art Pavilion and today it is the Museum of Popular Arts and Customs of Seville.

  • The Fine Arts Pavilion

Right in front of the Mudejar Pavilion is the Pabellón de Bellas Artes, also known as the Renaissance Palace, and although its Neo-Plateresque style is totally different, it is also the work of Aníbal González. Today it is the Archaeological Museum of Seville.

Closing the Plaza de América and flanked by the previous two, the Royal Pavilion rises. It follows neo-Gothic lines, making a nod to the classic styles of the city with numerous ornaments carved in brick, and today it houses municipal offices.

Aníbal González as an architect of the city

Although González’s participation at the head of the Ibero-American Exhibition of 29 was crucial for the history of Seville, his legacy throughout the city is enormous. We do not want to stop citing some of his most emblematic contributions that we will also find on the most tourist routes that run through the city.

It is located in Altozano, next to the Triana Market. It is made of brick and ceramic from Triana, with a dome in which the coat of arms of Carmen is represented. Anyone who crosses the Triana Bridge will come across it and its glass gate, a detail that allows permanent worship.

  • Building for Manuel Nogueira

In the center, on the corner of the intersection of Santa María de Gracia and Martín Villa streets, next to La Campana, you will find one of the best examples of neo-Mudejar style domestic architecture in Seville. In fact, it was Aníbal González’s first neo-Mudejar building, which was a turning point in his career.

It is on Calle Mateos Gago, in the historic center of Seville. It is inspired by the Casa de las Conchas in Salamanca but, in this case, the shells on its façade are not shells, but medallions with human, animal or plant figures.

Casa Laureano Montoto is a magnificent example of Aníbal González’s modernist style. It is located on Calle Alfonso XII, it was finished in 1906 and draws attention for its brick facade with curved stone balconies. It is richly decorated with mythological figures, dragons and naturalistic elements.

  • Álvaro Dávila House, Marquis of Villamarta

Another building that is impossible to miss, given its location on Avenida de la Constitución in front of the Seville Cathedral, is Álvaro Dávila’s house. It is on the corner of Calle García de Vinuesa and is another great example of Sevillian regionalism with its brick, its forge and its polychrome ceramics. As a curiosity, the thin polygonal staircase that seems to fit in at its outer vertex is striking.

What could be and what is not

Aníbal González designed a large number of buildings that, for one reason or another, were never realized. In this case it is interesting to mention the Basilica of the Immaculate Miraculous, a religious building that tried to compete with the very cathedral of Seville with two high towers 100 meters high. In 1913 the first stone was laid, with the presence even of King Alfonso XIII, but its construction stopped when González died. Since then, its plant in the shape of a Latin cross has remained standing.

And between what was there and what is no longer there are also noteworthy buildings. One of the most regretted disappearances is that of the Café Paris building. It was on the corner of Plaza de la Campana and Calle O’Donell and was the work of Aníbal González’s modernist period. It became popular as a meeting place for the upper middle class and the bourgeoisie, as well as bullfighters and artists, but it was demolished in the 70s of the 20th century, a victim of the modernization effort of the time.

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