The Palace of San Telmo started in 1682 as a school for the orphaned children of sailors. Today it is the home of the Junta de Andalucia, the governing body in Andalusia. The palace has Baroque architecture and has a rectangular plan with several interior courtyards, towers on the four corners, and a beautiful chapel. There are extensive gardens at the back of the palace. Leonardo de Figueroa built the chapel and it has an early 17th century statue of Nuestra Señora del Buen Aire. The chapel has a wonderful main altar that is gilded. Above there are beautiful paintings on the ceiling. The chapel is the best thing to see in the palace.
The principal façade has a Churrigueresque design, and this was created in 1754 by Matias and Antonio Matias, the son and grandson of Leonardo de Figueroa. There are three columns on each side of the door. Above the door there is a balcony that is supported by Atlantes that look like Indians from America. There are 12 female figures that are allegorical and represent the sciences and the nautical arts. On top there is the figure of San Telmo, who is the patron saint of sailors, and beside this figure are figures of San Fernando and San Hermenegildo, who are the patron saints of Seville. The façade on Calle Palos de la Frontera (across from the Hotel Alfonso XIII) has sculptures of twelve illustrious Sevillans.
The building became the home of the Dukes of Montpensier in 1849. The Duchess of Montpensier was Maria Luisa Fernanda, the younger sister of Queen Isabel II. Her husband was the Duke, named Antoine, the youngest son of King Louis Philippe. He was always plotting to depose Queen Isabel. Their daughter was the Infanta Luisa Fernanda, who inherited the palace and later willed it to the Archdiocese of Seville, which turned it into a seminary.
Later the building was sold to the Junta de Andalucia in 1989. On the second floor there are three salons used by the Montpensiers when they lived in the palace. The rest of the palace (except for the chapel) has been turned into a minimalist style office building that has little of interest to those who like art and history. Only the beautiful chapel is worth seeing in the interior of the palace.
There are guided tours in Spanish that start at 5 pm, but one has to call ahead to make a reservation. The phone no. is 955-001-010.
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