Hospital de la Caridad

Hospital de la Caridad (7)

The Hospital de la Caridad, founded by Miguel de Mañara, is really worth visiting during your time in Seville because it houses one of the best collections of paintings in the city. This building, completed in 1670, is still used to treat patients, and at the same time is a home for the elderly.

Miguel de Mañara was elected Brother Superior of the Santa Caridad Brotherhood, which has existed in Seville since the middle of the 16th century. Among their missions was the task of burying the executed, those who had drowned in the river, and those whose bodies were never claimed. Mañara spearheaded this remarkable building project, whose interior was decorated by the most prestigious Sevillian artists of the time.

Start at the main entrance, where you will find a statue of the benefactor, Miguel de Mañara, and a façade adorned with tiles that represent St. George, St. James, Faith, Hope and Charity, a clear example of Sevillian baroque. 

Once inside, you’ll note that the building is organised around two square courtyards. At the centre of the courtyards are two marble fountains with statues representing Charity and Mercy. These two courtyards, the work of Leonardo de Figueroa, are decorated with lovely Dutch tiles from the 18th century that depict a succession of biblical scenes. 

You should also visit the hospital’s church. This unassuming chapel is home to original canvases by 17th century artists, despite the fact that during the Napoleonic invasion of 1810, Marshal Soult made off with some of the best pieces once found here, which can now be seen in museums in various countries. However, don’t miss out on the paintings on the side walls, created by Juan de Valdés Leal, entitled “En un abrir y cerrar de ojos,” [In the blink of an eye] describing how death arrives, and “El final de las glorias terrenales.”[End of all earthly glories] These works are eye-catching for their spectacular nature and dark, dramatic realism.

If you pay close attention to the large altarpiece, one of the most striking examples of Spanish sculpture, you can make out a series of paintings by Murillo that belong to his “Misericordia” series. 

Another of Murillo’s works of art can be found on the right wall of the church, as well as “El retablo de San José,” [St. Joseph’s Altarpiece] by Bernardo Simón de Pineda. Moreover, the pulpit contains a sculpture that symbolises Charity, a work by Pedro Roldán. 

On the left-hand side of the church are stairs leading up to a crypt where Miguel de Mañara is buried.

Additionally, in one of the small inner courtyards, there are rosebushes planted by Mañara in 1671 that have miraculously have remained intact. And as you leave, be sure to look at the little 17th century water trough that was built here to provide thirsty dogs with a place to drink. 

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