Postcard from Valencia, Spain: Philips lightbulb only hint of ‘secret’ garden of tiles beyond

An over-the-top flashy exterior of a former home now the National Museum of Ceramics and Decorative Arts commands the attention of most visitors in the historic center of Valencia. Almost the only thing attracting one’s attention to a smaller house museum on a busy street above the Turia Park is this old tile advertisement. But this, the House Museum José Benlliure, we enjoyed so much more.

The first floor of the former home provides insight to period furnishings, with the upper floors featuring paintings by José Benlliure y Gil (1858-1937) and his son. While the art is worthwhile on its own, the more intriguing spaces are found out the back door.

Benlliure designed the garden upon his return from Rome in 1912. The intimate retreat is filled with tile murals he collected and a colorful series he commissioned depicting regional costumes and agricultural products – mainly oranges and grapes.

At the rear of the garden is the artist’s former art studio and office, wonderfully cluttered and personal. A pure pleasure to explore.

Having the house mostly to ourselves, we felt as though we stumbled into a secret garden of Spanish tilework.