Postcard from Sevilla, Spain: The celebrated potters of Triana

“Saints Justa and Rufina” (detail above) by Francisco de Goya hangs in the Cathedral of Seville.

The most revered potters of Seville made their living in the area known as Triana in the third century – Santa Justa and Santa Rufina. During a festival, the sisters purportedly refused to sell any of their wares for use in pagan celebrations. In anger, those who had been refused service broke all of the pair’s ceramics. And, in the spirit of an eye for an eye, the sisters retaliated by smashing a statue of Venus.

The city’s prefect imprisoned the sisters and demanded they renounce their Christian beliefs. They refused, so their deprivation of food and water and various stages of torture began. Barefoot marches, the rack, hooks. Their faith remained steadfast.

Justa finally starved to death, and still Rufina refused to surrender to the prefect’s demands. Rufina was cast into the public amphitheater with a lion, but the fierce lion supposedly demurred attacking and purred at her instead. The frustrated prefect finally resorted to beheading, a method that proved effective at ending Rufina’s life.

With clay from nearby Isla de Cartuja, the Triana neighborhood on the left bank of the river remained Seville’s center for ceramics and azulejos for centuries. In 2014, the former Ceramica Santa Ana factory reopened as the Centro Ceramica Triana. The museum traces the regional history of tiles from the earliest known examples through the 20th-century.

 

Postcard from Valencia, Spain: Clouds of incense fill Church of the Patriarch

Swirling clouds of incense blurred the ceiling frescoes and dome of the Church of the Patriarch when we finally managed to coordinate our arrival as a mass ended. The church is associated with a seminary still active, and the monks residing there are known for their daily Gregorian chants, which we missed.

The church and cloisters were founded by San Juan de Ribera in the XVI century. Juan de Ribera was born in Seville in 1532 and educated in Salamanca. He became archbishop of Valencia, leading to his establishment of the Royal Seminary.

Today a large portion of the cloisters is filled with a rich collection of art, including work by Valencian-born Renaissance painter, Juan de Juanes  (1523-1579) (love that name).

One of my favorite things about the church and chapel is the juxtaposition of cheerful bright tilework with the serious religious frescoes, accented by a sprinkling of chubby cherubs. And, of course, Saint Anthony, the patron saint of our hometown, seems to follow us everywhere we travel.

Postcard from Valencia, Spain: Just waiting on a train

This day probably did not differ from any other time he sat in this spot waiting for a train, a time or two too many to comprehend why the beauty of the details surrounding him magnetically attracts the camera lenses of tourists.

Orange blossoms and oranges dominate the interior mosaics and ceramic designs and the exterior trim of the 1917 Estacion del Norte of Valencia.

The station abuts the convex exterior of the Plaza de Toros next door. The bullring dates from 1859, and, yes, it still is used for its original purpose.

It’s a long way to travel, but frustrated fans from Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia, where bullfighting is banned, must appreciate the convenience of the station to the bullring. Spain is one of the few countries still permitting the sport with outcomes possibly fatal for the matadors and never positive for the bulls.