On Inés’ recommendation, I visited another potential site for the 2018 REEP McLAREN Scholarship – Monasterio de nuestra Señora Santa Maria de las Cuevas. Better known as ‘la Cartuja’, this fascinating monastery began its life in Moorish times, when caves were dug in the area to extract clay to make pots. When an image of the Virgin was discovered here in 1248, a shrine was erected and named Virgen de la Cuevas (Virgin of the Caves). Rebuilt as a monastery in the 15th century, it was here that Christopher Columbus stayed to worship and plan his second voyage to the new world. During Spain’s Napoleonic invasion the monastery was abandoned, remaining so until the English merchant, Charles Pickman bought it and converted it into a ceramic-tile and porcelain factory. Pickman won many international prizes for his ceramics in the 19th-20th centuries and his designs are still held in great esteem today. Today, the monastery is home to Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo (CAAC).
What a fascinating history and what a clever use of space too! Who would have thought that a tile factory could sit so attractively inside the buildings and patios of an old monastery!