The Plaza de España in Seville rises majestically at one end of the María Luisa Park, constituting a beautiful space in the city and one of its essential visits, despite being less than a century old. Its construction began in 1914 with the aim of serving as the central area for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It is the most monumental work of the brilliant architect Aníbal González, who directed his works until 1926, and is probably the most outstanding example of regionalism.
The building is the largest of those built in Seville during the 20th century and is built in a style reminiscent of the Renaissance and Baroque. It takes place around a large semi-elliptical plaza, with more than 30,000 m2 of surface, symbolizing the embrace of Spain to the Ibero-American peoples.
It consists of a central building from which the two arcaded wings that delimit the square start, with two beautiful neo-baroque towers 74 meters high at each end. The construction of these towers was very controversial at the time, since from some sectors they were considered excessively high and it was believed that they could compete with the Giralda in its dominance over the landscape of the city.
In the central part of each of the wings there are two buildings that balance their great length and give the whole a great harmony despite its enormous dimensions. The rest of the building is covered by a porticoed gallery, with semicircular arches supported by paired marble columns, which give the complex a Renaissance air.
The square is crossed on its edge by a channel of 515 meters, navigable with small pleasure boats. It is crossed by four bridges with rich ceramic decoration, which are named after the four historical kingdoms that made up Spain: Castilla, León, Aragón and Navarra.
The building was built mainly in exposed brick and shows like no other the trait of regionalist architecture that makes it turn to local industries and crafts for decoration. In this way, in it we can admire wonderful examples of sculpture, glazed ceramics, carpentry or forging. It must be remembered that the Ibero-American Exhibition as a whole represented a notable boost for these traditional Sevillian sectors, as they needed a huge production to deal with the construction and ornamentation of the numerous pavilions that made up the exhibition.
The plinths of the square are crossed by a series of 48 benches, each one dedicated to a Spanish province, with ceramic representations of its territory on the ground and a relevant historical scene alluding to it on the wall. The province of Seville does not appear, which is represented in different ceramic panels that show scenes from its history in the spaces that separate the sections of provincial banks. Nor do we find the provinces of Las Palmas and Tenerife, but rather the whole of the archipelago such as the Canary Islands, since at the time the building was designed, it had not yet been divided into two provinces.
In the spandrels of the arches of the porticoed gallery there are 48 medallions with the busts of illustrious figures in the history of Spain. A total of 52 appear, since the Pinzón brothers share a medallion, on the one hand, and Fray Luis de León and Fray Luis de Granada, on the other, who appear labeled as “Los dos Luises”. In total there are 50 men and only two women: Isabel la Católica and Santa Teresa de Ávila.
These medallions are the work of the sculptor Pedro Navía, author of most of the sculptural decoration in the square. He is also responsible for elements such as the coats of arms of Seville that are located on the doors of Aragon and Navarra, the 24 imperial coats of arms of Carlos V that appear distributed on the façade or the four heralds that are located on one of the cornices of the central body , representing the ancient peninsular kingdoms.
At present, the headquarters of the Captaincy General of Seville and various dependencies of the State Administration in the City are located in the Plaza de España. The beauty and originality of the set has made it the setting for numerous international film productions, such as "Lawrence of Arabia" or Episode II of "Star Wars". Not surprisingly, in 2017 it was declared a Treasury of Film Culture by the European Film Academy (EFA).
In conclusion, we can say that the Plaza de España is the most precious gift of the many that Aníbal González left in Seville. With his work, this architect contributed to the beautification of the city like no other. As a token of appreciation, a monument was erected in his honor right in front of this square in 2011. The sculpture that represents him seems to contemplate in wonder, like just another visitor, the majestic beauty of his work.