Active Project

Monastery of Santa Paula

Seville, Spain

Background

The Monastery of Santa Paula in Seville was established in 1473 by Doña Ana de Santillana for nuns of the cloistered Order of Saint Jerome (also known as Hieronymites). The religious complex includes a church, built from 1483 to 1489, and an adjoining sixteenth-century cloister that was expanded significantly during the seventeenth century. From the street level, a modest brick doorway leads to a landscaped atrium in front of the church. The predominant feature in the atrium is the entryway to the church, an imposing brick-and-tile structure built by sculptor Pedro Millán and Francisco Niculoso Pisano in 1504. Known as the Niculoso Pisano Portal, its unique design combines Gothic and Mudéjar style with Renaissance elements.

How We Helped

World Monuments Fund and WMF Spain are collaborating with the Instituto Andaluz de Patrimonio Histórico on the conservation of the Niculoso Pisano Portal. The brick, especially in the lower portion of the portal, is severely deteriorated, presenting almost total loss in some cases, as well as powdering, cracks, and biological growth. The tiled upper section is affected by dirt, guano deposits, detachment and lacunae, salt efflorescence, and failing mortar. The two-year project will consist of preliminary studies and documentation of the portal’s existing conditions, followed by the development and implementation of conservation techniques based on the previous studies.

Why It Matters

Located in the historic neighborhood of San Julián in Seville, Santa Paula was the first monastery in Seville to be designated as a historic monument. The cloistered nuns have occupied the site continuously for over five centuries. Today, the monastery continues to have an active presence in the community; several spaces within the complex have been adapted into a museum that houses a permanent art collection, allowing visitors to enter the otherwise enclosed convent. Santa Paula is also known for the nuns’ confections—including marmalades, candies, and madeleine cakes—that are sold at the site. The conservation of the Niculoso Pisano Portal is a first step toward the preservation and maintenance of this historic complex.

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