Stupendously Spanish: Seville’s Plaza de España

Larger Than Life: Art that inspires us through the ages
March 1, 2021 Updated: March 1, 2021

From around 1910 to 1929, the Spanish city of Seville made preparations to host the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. The aim of the exposition was to demonstrate Spain’s cultural and socioeconomic wealth to the world. 

All countries that exhibited at the exposition had historical links to Spain, such as the United States, Portugal, and Latin American countries such as Brazil, Mexico, and Cuba, to name a few. And of course, Spain’s provinces were represented. 

One of the architectural gems from that time is the Plaza de España or Spain Square. Designed by Spanish architect Aníbal González, the spectacular square covers a monumental 59,800 square yards and encompasses a mixture of architectural styles, including Art Deco, Spanish Renaissance Revival, Spanish Baroque Revival, and Neo-Mudéjar, a type of Moorish Revival architecture. 

Every inch of the square’s immense architecture announces Spain. Alongside the semicircular building runs a canal that can be crossed by four bridges, representing the ancient Spanish kingdoms of León, Castile, Aragon, and Navarre. Alcoves and benches covered in colorful ceramic tiles display scenes from Spain’s 49 provinces. And notable Spaniards seem to peer out from the walls, where they are depicted on medallions. 

The porticoed gallery with a coffered ceiling graciously introduces visitors to the building from the vast, open square.  

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Boat rides can take passengers down the nearly 570-yard canal that flows along the Plaza de España. (S-Studio/Shutterstock.com)
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An aerial view of a section of the Plaza de España shows its dynamic semicircular design. (World Nomac/Shutterstock.com)
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Four bridges cross the canal of the Plaza de España, and each bridge represents an ancient Spanish kingdom. (magic26/Shutterstock.com)
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A detail of the ceramic tiles on a bridge. (MarkLG/Shutterstock.com)
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Colorful ceramic tiles show the 49 provinces of Spain. (Tupungato/Shutterstock.com)
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A decorative tile marks the 1929 exposition that was held at the Plaza de España. (Gzzz/CC-BY-SA-3.0)
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Notable Spaniards peer out from medallions on the building. This image shows San Fernando who was king of Castile from 1217, king of León from 1230, and king of Galicia from 1231. Fernando was canonized in the 17th century. (Hans C. Schrodter/Shutterstock.com)
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Flamenco dancers in Seville’s Plaza de España. Flamenco is the traditional dance of the autonomous community of Andalusia in southern Spain. Seville is Andalusia’s capital. (leonov.o/Shutterstock.com)
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The elegant portico gallery with its coffered ceiling. (Anibal Trejo/Shutterstock.com)
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A nighttime shot of the Plaza de España highlights the beautiful contrasts between the brickwork and the blue tiles. (Sergey Ashmarin/CC-BY-SA-3.0)