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Maria Luisa Park
The Maria Luisa Park is the largest park in Seville and one of the most beautiful in Europe. It has a very interesting history.
Maria Luisa Fernanda was the younger sister of Queen Isabella II during the 19th century. She lived between 1832 and 1897. She was the youngest daughter of King Ferdinand VII of Spain.
Isabella II married Fernando I, her first cousin, who was supposedly gay. King Louis Phillipe of France had a plan to get the Spanish throne for his grandchildren. He married his youngest son Antoine (1824-1890), the Duke of Montpensier, to Maria Luisa Fernanda. He thought that Isabella II would have no children, so the Spanish throne would pass to her younger sister Maria Luisa Fernanda. He was wrong and Isabella II did have children (many think by a man other than her husband), so Maria Luisa Fernanda did not inherit the Spanish throne.
Maria Luisa Fernanda and Antoine had nine children. Later she and her husband, the Duke of Montpensier moved to Seville and lived in the Palace of San Telmo in the year 1848, after the French Revolution of 1848. The Duke would plot against Isabella II, his sister- in-law. When Isabella II was exiled in 1868, Maria Luisa Fernanda and her family had to follow her in exile. After her husband died in 1890, Maria Luisa Fernanda returned to Seville. Her daughter Mercedes married Alfonso XII, the son of Isabel II and became queen consort.
It was in the gardens of the Palace of San Telmo that King Alfonso XII declared his love for Maria de las Mercedes and had their love affair.
In 1893 Maria Luisa Fernanda left half of her gardens of her Palace of San Telmo to the city of Seville. After Maria Luisa Fernanda died in 1897, she was buried at El Escorial. However, the city of Seville did not take the gardens under their management until the Iberoamerican Exhibition of 1929.
Before the 1929 Iberoamerican Exposition, the city of Seville hired the famous French landscape architect Nicolas Forestier to redesign the gardens, now named after Maria Luisa Fernanda. Forestier was the landscape architect who designed the Bois de Boulogne in Paris.
The Plaza de España is one of the park’s most popular attractions and was the centerpiece of the expo. The architect was Anibal Gonzalez, from Seville, and it is a mixture of Art Deco and Mudejar. There is a moat that has four bridges across it. The palace has two large towers and there are sections with benches with beautiful tile work (azulejos) that represent each of the provinces of Spain. In the center of the plaza is a very large and beautiful fountain. The Spanish like to be photographed at the benches of their provinces.
At another end of the park is the Plaza de America, which is also called the Plaza de las Palomas (Plaza of the Doves) because of the many doves that live there. It has many fountains, ponds, and gardens. There is a beautiful Mudejar building called the Pabellon Mudejar, which contains the Museum of Popular Arts and Customs. Across from it is a neo-Renaissance building, which now contains the Archaeological Museum, famous for its Roman statues and remains from Italica, the museum being one of the best in the country. The museum also has the Phoenician statue of Astarte-Tanit, the virgin goddess. The plaza’s gardens have palm trees and roses.
For the expo, there was a building constructed for every country in the Americas. Many of these buildings are now museums or consulates. One of the most famous is the building of Guatemala, beside the Avenida de las Palmeras.
The park has a plaza dedicated to the poet Gustovo Adolfo Becquer. There is a statue of him done by the sculptor Coullaut Valera. The poet wrote about themes of love. The park has many orange trees, palm trees, elms, and Mediterranean pine trees. There are also many ponds and the people of Seville enjoy this park everyday. They like to browse here with their families or go jogging for exercise.
Many of the historical facts in this report are taken from articles from Wikipedia.