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Special summer stories: The history of Aníbal González (part 3)

03 Aug 2020

Last week we talked about some of González’s most prestigious projects throughout Seville, all over the city we find his architectonic signature. But let us conclude with Aníbal González most brilliant piece of art, with which he culminated his work for the Ibero American World Exposition. This week we talk about the Plaza de España and the end of Aníbal González.

Aníbal’s Plaza de España up to this day could be called the most exquisite open air monument to visit in Seville. The square is a 46 square meter piece of art, combining the geography of Spain and the theme of the Ibero American Exposition. The open structure creating half a circle represents the theme of the world exposition in which the ‘’New World’’ was invited to be ‘welcomed in Spain again’. The square opens up to the central lane to welcome the visitors of the expo centre. González divided the square in a vast inner circle and a thinner outer circle divided by a canal, accessible through four different bridges. These bridges created partly with handcrafted ceramics show us the history of Spain, referring to the four traditional kingdoms of Spain: Aragon, Castille, Leon and Navarra. In the outer circle the visitor of the expo was offered a total exhibition of the country of Spain itself where we find 48 different handcrafted ceramic pieces of art showing the different provinces of 20th century Spain. The idea in itself was to use the benches, equipped with a ceramic map, image and bookshelves to read about the different regions of Spain and thus promotion of the country. These benches were topped by white columns supporting the upper façade where we find the most important historical figures of Spain. However, the inside of the building is never really considered when we talk about its splendour, and that surprises when you see what’s behind the red walls of the central building. González created a marvellous theatre of the inside topped with a coloured glass ceiling representing the four kingdoms of Spain. it is hardly seen by people, cause its entrance is very limited and just limited events are held inside.

On the square we now find an immense fountain reminiscing about more difficult times for González during this seemingly great period. We have to imagine the period in which González worked was a difficult time of international conflicts and economic decline and so González on various occasions found himself in difficult situations. Although the people loved him as their own local architect, on political level life was different. A vast part of the set up of the expo was done during the rule of dictator Miguel Primo de Riveira, who with the time became more inpatient with the financial and time problems of the board of the exposition. It was this moment that González wanted to start the creation if his idea to make the Plaza de España a site on which also big events and sport matches could be held. But when Primo de Rivera moved forward an own representative of the government to work in the expo board, things changed. This former general José Cruz Conde immediately changed course and fired all important people on the board, mainly Sevillians. González and Cruz Conde did not agree in terms of building the Plaza de España and eventually Aníbal González resigned in 1926 for the behaviour of Cruz Conde. After this the sports venue was moved to the new neighbourhood of Heliopolis where up to date the football stadium of Betis Sevilla, Benito Villamarín, stands. Cruz Conde created a big fountain on the square with which he broke with the idea of González.

Three weeks after the start of the Ibero American Exposition, Aníbal González died, not being able to fully enjoy his ‘own’ expo. González had a prestigious career, made difficult by political motives. The people of Seville always loved him and so thousands of people attended his funeral. The love for González is symbolised since 2010 by his statue who still looks over his own square, la Plaza de España, looking past the fountain.

Want to visit the Plaza de España? We offer daily tours so you can visit the square!
https://atdspain.com/en/service/daily-bike-tour-sevilla