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Charterhouse of Santa Maria de las Cuevas - Expo Sevilla 1992

Charterhouse of Santa Maria de las Cuevas at the Exhibition Expo Sevilla 1992
© Jean-Michel Colin

The symbolic heart of the Universal Exhibition was formed by the Cartuja (1400), which gives its name to this space between the branches of the Guadalquivir and which was home to Columbus, the 19th century earthenware factory with its slender chimneys, and the Royal Pavilion for Expo'92. A process of both innovation and preservation of tradition.

The Carthusian monastery of Santa Maria de las Cuevas is characterised by a walled enclosure, rich in income from its patrons and the wise exploitation of its fertile lands, it encouraged the development of art and enriched itself with chapels, cloisters, patios, ceramics, while it periodically fought against the floods of the river.

The chapel on the west wall, rebuilt after the Lisbon earthquake in 1755, is now the Royal Pavilion. At that time the kings stayed in the Celda Prioral, a Sevillian house-palace of the 16th-17th century. In the church (Gothic, 15th century), the chapel of Santa Ana housed the ashes of Christopher Columbus, who found support, friendship and a place of trust in the Cartuja where he could deposit his belongings. Around the small Mudejar cloister, on the south side of the church, is the refectory (15th century), with the Italian marble sepulchres of the Ribera family, patrons of the monastery. Three cells of the Great Cloister can still be seen. Here the visitor could find one of the thematic exhibitions of Expo'92: Art and Culture around 1492.

The monastery came to own up to 800 hectares of land. The first steam-powered agricultural machines were built here. And here the industrial revolution took shape again as a symbol of La Cartuja, when it was applied to the manufacture of fine earthenware by the Englishman Charles Pickman in 1839. The exhibition The Mediterranean Landscape is being held in one of these halls for the duration of Expo'92. Its kilns and chimneys are not just industrial archaeology and a beautiful landscape reference, but the memory of a factory that won several medals at international exhibitions thanks to the excellent porcelain that is still made there today. Of the 120,000 m2 that make up the conventual and manufacturing enclosure, the majority was given over to vegetable gardens and plots of land, from which trees such as the ombu under which Columbus is said to have tried his hand, as well as norias, recreational pavilions and a viewpoint facing the city (1636), are preserved.

In this enclosure, which until recently was abandoned, a new building was erected: the 15th century pavilion. The whole complex was restored and enriched for Expo'92 as the symbolic centre of this space, whose future was dedicated to research and advanced technology, which La Cartuja was to become from 1993 onwards

© Official Guide Expo'92